CBS, Disney, Fox, and Time Warner are the easy answers — and the ones that many financial types believe are eyeing the independent programming network companies following Comcast’s $45.2B agreement to buy Time Warner Cable. But Bernstein Research’s Todd Juenger takes the conversation a step further today with an intriguing report that suggests several less obvious potential buyers for AMC Networks, Scripps or Starz. Distributors including DirecTV, Dish Network, Charter, AT&T and Verizon might want to take a page from Comcast’s playbook when it bought NBCUniversal. DirecTV doesn’t offer broadband, so it has “additional motivation to take some action to future-proof the business,” possibly by offering exclusive access to certain networks, Juenger says. Charter and Dish are long shots: Charter probably could only afford AMC. And Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen seems intent on acquiring airwave spectrum, although “nobody really knows Mr. Ergen’s potential plans, and they could change.” AT&T and Verizon’s corporate cultures are “a step (or three) further removed from the content business.” Yet here, too, they might take a leap since “their historical core businesses are not exactly growing, and they could amass the financial resources.”
Related: What A Comcast-TWC Could Mean For Hollywood
Read More »
In this week’s podcast, Deadline’s executive editor David Lieberman and host David Bloom look at the big Dish-Disney deal and what it might mean for other media companies and even a possible sports-free online pay-TV service. They also discuss Disney’s continuing headaches with its Interactive unit, whether FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s new rules for local broadcast alliances go far enough and look at the speculation about Carmike, the big exhibitor whose strong quarter fueled speculation that it will be a fat takeover target.
Deadline Big Media podcast 75 (.MP3 version)
Deadline Big Media podcast 75 (.M4A version)
Read More »
Today’s announcement and other financial moves reportedly in the works for the gaming-oriented online service underscore how hard it is for channels to make money at YouTube. Machinima – which describes itself as “the number one global video entertainment network for young males” — says today that the layoffs, hitting 30% of the workforce, are part of its “restructuring in and around its sales organization” as it leans on its “longstanding partnership with YouTube to drive media sales.” But it also comes as it lines up $18M in funding from a group led by Warner Bros, website Re/code reports, citing “people familiar with the transaction.” Last week The Wall Street Journal reported that Warner Bros was mulling the possibility of investing as much as $15M in the online video operation. The numbers are a far cry from the amounts approaching $70M that Machinima was said to be hoping to secure last year. One of the problems for YouTube services like Machinima is that Google takes about 45% of the ad revenue it sells, as well as much of the inventory. Read More »
The roughly 700 layoffs have been widely anticipated for the operation, Disney‘s only money-losing division in the fiscal year that ended in September. With the cuts, Disney Interactive will trim by half the number of games it … Read More »
Don’t trust people when they tell you how much time they spend watching video on their smartphones and tablets. The ratings company learned that lesson the hard way after it changed the way it measures average monthly viewing from surveys to actual observations. The old numbers were off by a factor of — wait for it — 538%, TV station trade group TVB points out this morning. Using surveys, Nielsen‘s widely followed quarterly Cross-Platform Report last year put the monthly mobile video viewing average in Q4 at 5 hours and 23 minutes. But the new report, out yesterday, quietly restated that to just 1 hour — growing to 1 hour and 23 minutes a month in the last three months of 2013. “This disparity is an important reminder of the dangers inherent in trusting consumers’ claimed behavior and calls into question many recent studies that have proclaimed the demise of traditional media based on self-reported approximations of time spent with digital devices,” TVB Chief Research Officer Stacey Lynn Schulman says. Read More »
The exhibition chain’s stock is up about 7.7% so far today, and hit a 52-week high of $32.60, as its stronger-than-expected Q4 earnings delighted investors — and revived speculation that it might soon be ripe for a takeover. Some analysts say … Read More »
The No. 2 cable company is seeing the “best subscriber performance in the residential side that we’ve had in a 5 year period,” with total relationships up by 75,000 in the first two months of this year, CFO Artie Minson told the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference today. … Read More »
Fox‘s Deputy COO particularly likes the fact that Dish Network agreed to disable the ad-zapping function in its Hopper DVRs for the first three days after it records an ABC show. “Protecting certain windows is important” — especially the three-day period that’s most important for TV ad sales — James Murdoch told the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference today. As part of the deal Disney dropped out of the suit that Fox and other broadcasters filed against Dish, which charged that its DVR’s capability to automatically skip past ads in recordings of their shows infringed on copyrights and violated contracts. Murdoch shied from discussing Disney’s changes in depth, but said that “overall it looks like it’s a positive step forward. But it’s a step.” He also left a lot of wiggle room in his response to a question about Comcast’s $45.2B agreement to buy Time Warner Cable. “You can clearly see the rationale…But this one we have to watch very closely.” He suspects “there’ll be more to come” as regulators and others investigate how much clout Comcast would have over broadband access and pricing. Read More »
The CBS chief describes Dish Network and Disney’s new programming agreement as “a win-win for both companies.” But it’s still “not quite enough for us,” Les Moonves told the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference today. He likes the fact that Dish chairman Charlie Ergen curtailed the ability of his Hopper DVR to automatically zap ads on ABC shows; the new deal will delay that until three days after a show airs. (CBS and other broadcasters sued Dish saying that the Hopper infringed on their copyrights and violated programming contracts. Dish says the Hopper simply automates the ad skipping that DVR viewers already do with their remote controls.) Moonves also doesn’t mind the terms in the deal with Disney that would enable Dish to carry its channels on an Internet pay TV service, also known as over-the-top. “Everybody’s talking about over the top,” he says. “We’re talking about it with many of the [pay TV distributors] we’re in business with….The current ecosystem works very well, but a new way to get paid for your linear content is a good thing if it’s done appropriately.” He adds that consumers will probably see a online pay TV service “in concert with our partners.” That could include Dish: Moonves says that “our deal with Charlie is up at the end of this year. It’ll be an interesting conversation, as they always are with Charlie.”
Related: Les Moonves Vows To Drop Dish If It Keeps Pushing Ad-Zapping DVR
Read More »
The change will take place in 2015 and will help to solidify the relationship between Univision and Bounce, which describes itself as the first broadcast TV network for African Americans. In addition to the new carriage arrangement, Bounce renewed its deal … Read More »
It’s hard to imagine NPR without the distinctive baritone voice of Carl Kasell. But we’ll soon have to: The public radio service says that this spring he will retire from his duties as the Official Judge and Scorekeeper … Read More »
Verizon’s already talking to content creators about ways to enable subscribers to access video content nationally. “You could do a wireless over-the-top” — the jargon term for an Internet pay TV service — CEO Lowell McAdam told attendees at the Morgan Stanley … Read More »
Is this announcement designed to help Comcast polish its image as a good corporate citizen while it lobbies the government to approve its $45.2B acquisition of Time Warner Cable? Of course. But it’s still noteworthy considering how big the company is, … Read More »
It’s definitely a set-back for those who fantasized about such a service based on what we know from the wide-ranging program carriage agreement the companies announced last night. Many industry watchers thought that someone might be able … Read More »
The companies finally put a date on the agreement made in December for the No. 2 cable operator to offer the premium service which has been struggling to expand its distribution. Time Warner Cable will help to generate some buzz by offering its digital video customers a three-month free trial of Epix, Epix 2, Epix 3, and Epix Drive-in. Epix will be available in standard and high definition, while Epix Drive-In will be only in SD. In addition to the linear channels, TWC will offer Epix programming on VOD and will stream content to the service’s app. “This is yet another way of showing that we appreciate our customers’ loyalty and are consistently working hard to provide even more value to their service,” says TWC’s Jeffrey Hirsch. The cable company is eager to slow, and possibly reverse, the decline in its video subscriptions. Meanwhile Epix — owned by Viacom, Lionsgate and MGM — sees the deal as an opportunity to build momentum for additional deals, possibly including with Comcast, which plans to buy TWC, and DirecTV. Read More »
UPDATE, 5:20 PM: The companies have officially announced a “wide-ranging” deal, which “will result in dismissal of all pending litigation between the two companies, including disputes over PrimeTime Anytime and AutoHop.” The agreement calls for Dish to disable AutoHop functionality for ABC content within the C3 ratings window. The pact also for the first time allows Dish customers to access Disney’s authenticated live and VOD products. The full release is below the original story.
PREVIOUS, 3:59 PM: They both made big concessions as part of a new — and long-awaited — program carriage deal that Dish Network cut with Disney, The Wall Street Journal reports. It says that Dish Network has agreed to disable the Hopper DVR’s “Auto Hop” feature for ABC shows for the first three days after they air. Disney, in return, will drop out of broadcasters’ suit against Dish. They’ve said that the DVR’s feature that automatically jumps past ads on some recorded shows infringes on their copyrights and violates carriage contracts. Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen has steadfastly cast himself as a champion for his customers’ interests, saying that Hopper simply automates what DVR owners already can do with their remote controls. Now that Dish and Disney have agreed to allow ad zapping after three days, we’ll have to see whether other broadcasters can accept similar terms. CBS chief Les Moonves said in November that he’s “very flexible. We’re willing to negotiate.” Last month Ergen said that he was “cautiously optimisic” about striking a deal with Disney, in part because CEO Bob Iger — who’s also a member of Apple’s board – “has looked at [terms] in ways that others have not.” Read More »
Netflix had to make its potentially game-changing new deal to pay Comcast for improved service over its broadband lines because “there were some choke points around peak usage times,” the streaming service’s CFO David Wells said today at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference. That should ease now that the agreement — which eliminates intermediaries handling Netflix traffic to Comcast — will “shore up the long-term subscriber experience.” Some investors are concerned that the arrangement might become costly. But Wells says not to worry: the additional outlays won’t change its forecast for fatter profit margins in its U.S. streaming business this year. The amount Netflix will pay Comcast “was incremental, but not to the point where we’re changing that.” Nor is he concerned that other broadband providers will now insist on large payments to improve Netflix transmissions. Others “could” ask for a similar deal, and the company is “somewhat caught in the middle” because it wants to ensure “a long-term subscriber experience” that will require more bandwidth as it offers more HD and, soon, 4K transmissions. Still, “not all ISPs are created equal,” Wells says, and “we’re not going to be interested in doing anything that will meaningfully change the economics.” Read More »
The big boys came out today on the side of the broadcasters in their upcoming appearance in front of the Supreme Court in the Aereo case. The solicitor general’s office put the Obama administration solidly in the anti-Aereo camp with a 40-page amicus brief (read it here) filed with the SCOTUS today. The broadcasters say that Aereo infringes on their copyrights by streaming their over-the-air signals without licenses or compensation. Aereo says that it simply leases out antennas and technology that consumers can already use to watch broadcast TV for free.
Aereo Supreme Court Arguments Set For Late April
Would The Supreme Court Upend The TV Business If It Sides With Aereo?
“The proper resolution of this dispute is straightforward,” the brief states. “Unlike a purveyor of home antennas, or the lessor of hilltop space on which individual consumers may erect their own antennas … respondent does not simply provide access to equipment or other property that facilitates customers’ reception of broadcast signals. Rather, respondent operates an integrated system—i.e., a ‘device or process’—whose functioning depends on its customers’ shared use of common facilities. The fact that as part of that system respondent uses unique copies and many individual transmissions does not alter the conclusion that it is retransmitting broadcast content ‘to the public.’ Like its competitors, respondent therefore must obtain licenses to perform the copyrighted content on which its business relies. That conclusion, however, should not call into question the legitimacy of businesses that use the Internet to provide new ways for consumers to store, hear, and view their own lawfully acquired copies of copyrighted works.”
FilmOn X Loses Bid To Join Aereo Supreme Court Case
Cablevision Opposes Aereo And Broadcasters At Supreme Court
The high court agreed in January to hear the case, and briefs from the broadcasters were due on February 24 and today. Aereo must submit its response to the petitioner’s brief by March 26 and send in an amicus curiae brief of its own by April 2. Read More »