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Rupert Murdoch Tweets: He Won’t Bid For Tribune

By | Friday July 18, 2014 @ 7:22am PDT

Rupert Murdoch Tweets: He Won’t Bid For TribuneLooks like Rupert Murdoch can’t acquire everything he wants. “Sorry can’t buy Trib group or LA Times — cross-ownership laws from another age still in place,” he tweeted overnight.  He salivated over Tribune‘s papers which include the Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, as well as the Los Angeles Times. The parent company has wanted to sell them, and now plans to spin them off in a separate entity that will be publicly traded beginning August 4.

Murdoch still has plenty to keep him busy: Fox disclosed this week that it made an $80B offer for Time Warner, which the company rejected. And News Corp — Murdoch’s publishing company — is eyeing Time Inc, the publishing company that Time Warner just spun off. Read More »

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Will Anyone Besides Rupert Murdoch Take A Run At Time Warner?

By | Thursday July 17, 2014 @ 3:49pm PDT

Will Anyone Besides Rupert Murdoch Take A Run At Time Warner?It’s a foregone conclusion now that something big will happen with Time Warner. Its stock wouldn’t be up 20% since yesterday morning — when Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch‘s $80B June offer came to light – if investors thought that Time Warner’s rejection of it was the last word on the matter. Indeed, the stock closed today at $86.12, which means a lot of people are betting that Fox or someone else will top the $85 a share stock-and-cash proposal that Time Warner shunned.

But here’s the problem: Some of Wall Street’s top analysts don’t know who has the desire and wherewithal to wage a bidding war with Fox. If Time Warner seriously wants to escape Murdoch’s embrace, it might have to make a deal of its own — perhaps to buy CBS. Even if it did, “Time Warner would still have to make the argument that more value would be created by merging with CBS than by accepting Fox’s tender offer,” Bernstein Research’s Todd Juenger says.

What about other usual suspects who might covet Time Warner? Comcast and AT&T are out of the running as they pursue their acquisition deals with, respectively, Time Warner Cable and DirecTV. Here are others that might conceivably kick the tires:

Disney: Hard to find anyone who thinks the company will jump in. Disney doesn’t need a big deal, especially with a “clear strategy that should play out over the last two years of Bob Iger’s contract,” MoffettNathanson Research’s Michael Nathanson says. The CEO likes properties that appeal to targeted audiences that he can coax to attend Disney … Read More »

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Google Q2 Revenues Grow But Earnings Miss Expectations As Expenses Rise

By | Thursday July 17, 2014 @ 1:26pm PDT

Google Q2 Revenues Grow But Earnings Miss Expectations As Expenses RiseGoogle announced its mixed Q2 results tonight along with news that its longtime Chief Business Officer, Nikesh Arora, plans to leave to become CEO of SoftBank Internet and Media. He’ll be replaced by Omid Kordestani, one of Google’s founders.

Net income for the quarter came in at $3.42B, +6% vs the period last year, on revenues of $16.0B, +21.7%. The top line beat analysts’ consensus forecast of $15.6B. But earnings at $6.08 a share, not including one-time expenses, fell short of the Street’s prediction of $6.25.

Paid clicks on Google ads increased 25% vs last year. But the cost per click fell 6%. Also, traffic-acquisition costs increased 9.3%, to $3.3B while other costs rose 29.4% to $2.82B.

Google execs usually offer little color about the quarter in their earnings releases, and this time was no exception. “We are moving forward with great product momentum and are excited to continue providing amazing user experiences, with a view to the long term,” CFO Patrick Pichette says.

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Copyright Office Rejects Aereo’s Request To Be Classified As A Cable Company

By | Thursday July 17, 2014 @ 7:37am PDT

Copyright Office Rejects Aereo’s Request To Be Classified As A Cable CompanyThis is a setback for Aereo‘s effort to carry broadcasters’ programming for relatively low fees. The U.S. Copyright Office says it “does not believe Aereo qualifies” for a designation as a cable service, which would enable the streaming service to have what’s known as a compulsory license to offer broadcast signals with fees set by the government. Internet transmissions of over-the-air TV “fall outside the scope” of the copyright rules that apply to cable companies; they just apply to services “regulated as cable systems by the FCC,” the arm of the Library of Congress said in a letter sent to Aereo yesterday.

Last month the U.S. Supreme Court said that Aereo can’t stream broadcast signals without payment because it seemed to resemble a cable distributor — which would be legally bound to pay to retransmit local TV stations. Even so, the Copyright Office says that “We do not see anything in the Supreme Court’s recent decision…that would alter” its view that the rules just apply to companies that the FCC deems to be cable systems. That could backfire on Aereo: FCC-designated cable companies are governed by communications laws that require them to negotiate fees directly with broadcasters. Read More »

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Microsoft To Cut Up To 18,000 Jobs This Year As It Focuses On Mobile And Cloud Computing

By | Thursday July 17, 2014 @ 6:31am PDT

Microsoft To Cut Up To 18,000 Jobs This Year As It Focuses On Mobile And Cloud ComputingMicrosoft shares opened +3.2% this morning after the company disclosed that it will cut its workforce by about 14% –far more than many analysts anticipated. The layoffs will hit hardest at the Nokia Devices and Services phone handset business, acquired in April. “We are moving now to start reducing the first 13,000 positions, and the vast majority of employees whose jobs will be eliminated will be notified over the next six months,” CEO Satya Nadella says in a company wide email. Microsoft expects the restructuring to result in as much as $1.6B in pre-tax charges over the next four quarters. That will include as much as $800M for severance and related benefit costs, and up to $800M in asset-related charges.

The company’s biggest layoff since 2009 reflects Nadella’s plan to shift Microsoft’s focus away from its longtime strength in PC software toward other areas that show more promise. “Our passion is to enable people to thrive in this mobile-first and cloud-first world,” he told employees last week.

The CEO said today that Microsoft will offer severance and job transition help to those axed. Everyone “can expect to be treated with the respect they deserve for their contributions to this company.”

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Fox-Time Warner News Colors Senate Committee Look At Online Video; Netflix’s Reed Hastings Declines Invite

By | Wednesday July 16, 2014 @ 2:25pm PDT

Fox-Time Warner News Colors Senate Committee Look At Online Video; Netflix’s Reed Hastings Declines Invite“We’re in an arms race,” Public Knowledge CEO Gene Kimmelman told the Senate Commerce Committee at a hearing to explore the prospects for broadband video. It’s “no surprise, content companies bulk up” as Fox wants to do with its $80B bid for Time Warner, which was rejected by the company but disclosed today. Following Comcast’s deal to buy Time Warner Cable, and AT&T’s with DirecTV, “consumers are between a rock and a hard place….They started the ball rolling and as we’ve seen from today’s stories, we don’t know where it’s going to end.”

Representatives from Comcast and AT&T indirectly debated with execs from Dish Network, the WGA, and Kimmelman over whether online video providers have to fear mergers or need strong net neutrality rules. Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W Va) ended the proceedings by arguing for municipal broadband to provide a low-cost option for poor residents. He also said that he invited Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, who declined to show. “I can’t figure [it] out because I’m trying to help them, I think. But he didn’t want to be here.”

Dish says that later this year it plans to introduce a low-priced online video service that will include live streams of ESPN, and could be threatened by the union of the two largest cable companies. “Comcast doesn’t necessarily want us to succeed because we’re competitors,” says the satellite company’s Deputy General Counsel Jeffrey Blum. “We are very concerned that a combined Comcast and Time Warner Cable will have an incentive and ability to stifle our service.” Read More »

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Do RealD’s Executive Departures Reflect 3D Fatigue?

By | Wednesday July 16, 2014 @ 12:51pm PDT

Do RealD’s Executive Departures Reflect 3D Fatigue?RealD has lost some top execs recently — and it may not be entirely coincidental. Yesterday was the last day for COO and General Counsel Craig Gatarz. He was right behind SVP Marketing and Communications Rick Heineman, who quietly left in June. CEO Michael Lewis says that they “have been valuable members of the RealD executive team” and that he wishes them “luck in their new endeavors.”  Gatarz, he adds, has a “true passion… for early stage companies so we are supportive of his desire to return to these roots.”

That likely isn’t the end: I hear that another senior exec is preparing to bolt.

Company morale took a hit in March with the retirement of Joe Peixoto, who was RealD’s President of Worldwide Cinema. The former top exec at United Cinemas International and Canada’s Famous Players chain helped to introduce RealD’s 3D technology with Disney’s Chicken Little, and drove many of the company’s deals with exhibition chains. Read More »

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Media Merger Mania: Fox’s Bid For Time Warner Is Just The Beginning (Video)

Media Merger Mania: Fox’s Bid For Time Warner Is Just The Beginning (Video)Rupert Murdoch’s $80B offer for Time Warner makes two things clear: The much anticipated round of content company merger mania is here — and likely will include Time Warner even though it rejected the proposal from Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox. And virtually no deal idea is too big or outlandish. One major question at this point is whether a large digital company such as Google will seize the opportunity to buy a major content company. Giants such as Fox and Time Warner want to defend the pay TV status quo — the lucrative bundle that requires subscribers to buy channels they don’t watch. If they become more powerful, then it could slow efforts by Internet companies to claim a piece of the giant ad pie that goes to TV.

Content company stock prices today reflect their new popularity. In addition to Time Warner (+15.6% at mid-day) we see Discovery +6.6%, Viacom +4.3%, Lionsgate +3.7%, AMC Networks +3.4%, and Scripps Networks +3.4%. “The urgency to find a ‘dance partner” will increase across the sector,” Bernstein Research’s Todd Juenger says. “Nobody wants to be the company that gets left out of the consolidation wave, and companies would rather control their own destinies.” What’s more, every investment banker in the world now smells opportunities to collect millions in fees if they can propose and facilitate deals.

Time Warner has two things that make it especially attractive. Read More »

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UPDATE: Time Warner Shares Soar On Reports Of $80B Offer By Rupert Murdoch

By | Wednesday July 16, 2014 @ 6:46am PDT

UPDATE: Time Warner Shares Soar On Reports Of $80B Offer By Rupert MurdochUPDATE. 6:46 AM: Time Warner confirms that it rejected 21st Century Fox‘s acquisition offer saying its board concluded that remaining independent “will create significantly more value for the Company and its stockholders and is superior to any proposal that Twenty-First Century Fox is in a position to offer.” Fox said it would pay $32.42 in cash plus 1.531 of its own non-voting shares for each Time Warner share. Directors don’t like the plan, in part because it involves “significant risk and uncertainty as to the valuation of Twenty-First Century Fox’s non-voting stock and Twenty-First Century Fox’s ability to govern and manage a combination of the size and scale of Twenty-First Century Fox and Time Warner.” The board also notes that there would be “considerable strategic, operational, and regulatory risks” to a deal.

21stcenturyfox1__131014203730-275x122PREVIOUS, 4:39 AM: Time Warner’s up nearly 20% in pre-market trading after The New York Times and CNBC reported that the media giant recently rejected an $80B takeover proposal by Rupert Murdoch‘s 21st Century Fox. The bid could “put Time Warner in play and might again ignite a reshaping of the media industry,” the Times says. Fox COO Chase Carey met with Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes in early June offering $85 a share — 40% of it in cash — a 25% premium at the time. The proposal said that the combined companies could save at least $1B by TimeWarnerlogoblueeliminating duplication. Fox, which owns Fox News, offered to sell CNN to avoid antitrust problems, and indicated that it would maintain Time Warner’s studio and cable network operations, as well as most of its best execs, according to the reports. The Time Warner board seriously considered the proposal but rejected it, in part because the offer included nonvoting shares. Nonetheless, “Rupert Murdoch is ‘determined’ to buy Time Warner,” CNBC reports, citing unnamed sources. Murdoch is said to have enlisted Goldman Sachs and Centerview Partners to advise him while Time Warner has Citigroup.

Fox says that it “can confirm that we made a formal proposal to Time Warner last month to combine the two companies. The Time Warner Board of Directors declined to pursue our proposal. We are not currently in any discussions with Time Warner.” Read More »

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UPDATE: Yahoo Shares Slip As Investors Focus On Weak Q2 Ad Sales

By | Tuesday July 15, 2014 @ 1:16pm PDT

UPDATE: Yahoo Shares Slip As Investors Focus On Weak Q2 Ad SalesUPDATE: The relief over the Alibaba news didn’t last long. Yahoo shares are now down 2.4% following management’s call with analysts who mostly focused on the company’s lousy Q2 results — and execs ratcheted back their Q3 guidance. CEO Marissa Mayer said it will take “multiple years” to turn things around, although she called the Q2 numbers a “short term set back.” CFO Ken Goldman says that “clear we need to operate with a greater sense of urgency” as he projected that Q3 numbers will look a lot like Q2′s.

PREVIOUS, 1:16 PM: Yahoo only has to sell 140M of its Alibaba shares after the Chinese e-retailer goes public, down from their previous agreement that required Yahoo to unload 208M shares. That led to a 2.5% jump in Yahoo’s stock price in early post market trading — not bad considering what looks at first glance to be tepid financial results in Q2. Yahoo generated $272.6M in net income, -18.6% vs the period last year, on revenues of $1.04B (not including traffic acquisition costs), -2.9%. The top line is a hair lower than analysts expected. Net earnings at 37 cents a share were a penny light of the consensus forecast.

The Q2 results will do little to assuage investors who are wondering when CEO Marissa Mayer — who’s been at the company for two years — will show solid improvements at Yahoo’s core ad-supported businesses. The stock is down nearly 12% so far in 2014 as people lose patience, and fear what will happen now that it has to reduce its 24% stake in Alibaba, which is seen as a success.
Read More »

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FCC Extends Net Neutrality Comment Period After “Overwhelming Surge” Of Responses Crash Its Site

By | Tuesday July 15, 2014 @ 11:03am PDT

FCC Extends Net Neutrality Comment Period After “Overwhelming Surge” Of Responses Crash Its SiteToday was supposed to be the deadline for people to respond to the FCC’s proposed open Internet rules — the ones that HBO’s John Oliver famously lambasted last month. But the agency extended the comment period to midnight on Friday after “an overwhelming surge in traffic on our website” made it “difficult for many people to file comments” on the FCC’s electronic filing system, it says today. “Please be assured that the Commission is aware of these issues and is committed to making sure that everyone trying to submit comments will have their views entered into the record,” the agency says, adding that people also can contribute to the public record by emailing their views to openinternet@fcc.gov.

The public response could be unusually important to the proceedings because the commission itself is so divided on a key question: Should it reclassify the Internet as a kind of telecom service, which the FCC can clearly regulate, or keep it defined as an information service, which requires the agency to take a lighter touch? In January, the U.S. Court of Appeals in DC remanded the net neutrality rules the FCC adopted in 2010 saying that they overreached the agency’s authority over an information service. Two of the Democratic commissioners are open to reclassifying the Internet. But the two GOP members strongly oppose that. Chairman Tom Wheeler steered a middle course. He proposed extensive changes without reclassifying the Web — but said that he considers it an option.

Open Internet advocates say that … Read More »

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Comcast And The Customer Rep From Hell

By | Tuesday July 15, 2014 @ 10:18am PDT

Comcast And The Customer Rep From HellComcast execs had better take the recording below seriously, because in the last few hours it has become an Internet phenomenon — an example of almost everything that many consumers hate about the cable-broadband giant and its bureaucracy. It was made last week by tech journalist Ryan Block after his wife called Comcast to cancel their broadband service (they wanted to switch providers) and were transferred to a customer retention rep who refused to comply and hectored them with patronizing talking points. The recording starts about 10 minutes into the conversation, Block writes, after the Comcast rep “continued aggressively repeating his questions, despite the answers given, to the point where my wife became so visibly upset she handed me the phone.”

Comcast says it’s “embarrassed by the way our employee spoke with Mr. Block and [is] contacting him to personally apologize.” But the company adds that the rep was an outlier: His hectoring questions and refusal to simply cancel the service were “not consistent with how we train our customer service representatives. We are investigating this situation and will take quick action. While the overwhelming majority of our employees work very hard to do the right thing every day, we are using this very unfortunate experience to reinforce how important it is to always treat our customers with the utmost respect.” Read More »

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UPDATE: Herb Allen’s Sun Valley Retreat – Recap

UPDATE: Herb Allen’s Sun Valley Retreat – RecapUPDATED, Monday, 4:56 PM: Saturday’s panel with Secretary of State John Kerry and interviewer Charlie Rose went off without a hitch after some technical problems the previous day, but listening about the conflicts in the Middle East was not as interesting to moguls (‘what else is new, it’s a mess over there’) as the panel that featured billionaire investor Warren Buffet and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, according to some in attendance. Bezos, whose company Amazon has become a powerhouse in publishing and is creating its own content now, told the group gathered that the Amazon business model in publishing and creating content is here to stay. While the panels are always greatly attended, some of those who sat through the first few said they were a bit dry and boring, but “Buffet is always interesting to listen to,” said one attendee. Jeffrey_Katzenberg_118299588Said another, “All the networking is really done in the first day … unless you’re Jeffrey Katzenberg lining up meetings every hour.” Added another, “He sits there and does one meeting after another … he must have had like 20 meetings.” Yes, DreamWorks Animation’s Katzenberg was doing his ‘speed-dating’ meetings near the duck pond as usual which had some entertainment moguls laughing and others rolling their eyes (‘He has like what? One movie in the marketplace?’ Does he know how silly it looks?).

On Saturday, too, were presentations from the younger entreprenuers of Lookout, Xapo and Lending Club, which another attendee said he thought was fantastic (‘The guy from Lookout looked like he was 16 years old’). Also interesting to one attendee was the education panel with Eva Sarah Moskowitz, CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools and Kaya Henderson who is the D.C. school superintendent. “They were really good together and kept everyone’s interest.” That panel took place last Thursday.

The five-day Sun Valley retreat wrapped up last night with the annual dinner hosted by Herb Allen, whose aserbic wit and self-deprecating humor was enjoy by all. In reference to the panel earlier in the week that featured producer Brian Grazer and TWC’s Harvey Weinstein talking about the creative process, one attendee noted that “Brian really hit the mark on it. He was pitch perfect. If he did that same speech in showbiz circles it might not resonate but it did with most of people who were not in the business.’” One of the things that they both suggested was to listen to the voices in your head and get in touch with your instinct, which Allen use as a set up for a joke at the Sunday night dinner: “I have the voices in my head. I just don’t know what to do with them yet.” Until next year …

3RD UPDATE, FRIDAY, 2:50 PM: People actually enjoyed the Michael Bloomberg panel today at the H2013-07-11t154703z_2111664344_gm1e97b1tzw01_rtrmadp_3_sunvalley-conference_Fotorerb Allen Sun Valley conference as the 72-year-old answered questions from journalist Willow Bay, wife of Disney’s Robert Iger. The former mayor of New York whose fight for reasonable gun laws is well-documented, spoke about his philanthropy efforts and giving back to society. Through Bloomberg Philanthropies, the billionaire does just that in the areas of education, the arts, gun issues, governance and public health. He spoke about how dysfunctional the current U.S. system is politically and otherwise to get things done — no doubt as he personally saw what happened behind the scenes in Washington D.C. as politicians in the pocket of the NRA stymied efforts to get background checks on gun sales passed. Leave it to a politician — an orator and a former Eagle scout (hey, it’s no small task) — to wake up the moguls.

The second panel, which was supposed to feature Charlie Rose interviewing Secretary of State John Kerry piped in live from Afghanistan, went awry as the video feed didn’t work (they tried for about 15 minutes to get it up and running to no avail). That conversation, which was expected to be about how heavily the U.S. should be involved in the current explosive situation in the Middle East, will now take place tomorrow after journalist Becky Quick interviews Warren Buffet and Jeff Bezos.

So they are attempting to fix the video feed for tomorrow, but let’s face it, if it doesn’t work, we doubt anyone will be upset as Kerry drones … on and on. Speaking of drones, there has been some attempt to make sure that drones don’t fly over the conference taking pictures, according to Bloomberg News. Ahhh, technology … the age of the paparazzi drone? If people are still awake after Kerry and Rose, a number of younger entrepreneurs will have their turn at bat.

Most all we spoke with don’t expect any major deals to go down at this conference. That Read More »

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Hearst Launches Subscription VOD Streaming Service: CosmoBody

By | Monday July 14, 2014 @ 4:13pm PDT

Hearst Launches Subscription VOD Streaming Service: CosmoBodyThe $9.95 a month service (with a 10-day free trial), kicks off tomorrow — and may be most noteworthy as the first of several planned specialty video offerings from Hearst Digital Studios. “The CosmoBody channel is part of a larger umbrella strategy around the Cosmo brand, and an excellent template for how Hearst Magazines and the Studios will work together going forward,” says Hearst Magazines President David Carey. Other SVOD ventures will come from within Hearst, and with outside partners, and are designed to be available to subscribers “on any platform or device, at any time, anywhere in the world,” says Hearst Digital’s Neeraj Khemlani, who’s also co-president of Hearst Entertainment & Syndication.

The former Yahoo News exec describes CosmoBody as a “Netflix for fitness and lifestyle content.” It will feature workout videos, dating advice, and food and fashion information. Programming will come from Mark Burnett’s VIMBY studios (a partnership with Hearst), and will be updated daily. CosmoBody will feature eight trainers ( Jennifer Johnson, Astrid Swan McGuire, Adam Rosante, Ary Nunez, Don Saladino, Tara Stiles, Katia Pryce,  and Rique Uresti), and food blogger Camille Becerra. Programming titles include Wowza Wedding Body, Sexier by Saturday, and Revenge Body.

Hearst hopes to make CosmoBody available to TV streaming devices such as Roku and Apple TV by mid-September.

Hearst has a lot riding on the initiative. The premium SVOD strategy sets the publisher apart from others that have tried to adapt to digital media by selling ads for text or a combination of text and video, or put their packages behind pay walls. … Read More »

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Court OKs TV Streaming From Dish Network’s Hopper DVR

By | Monday July 14, 2014 @ 3:01pm PDT

Court OKs TV Streaming From Dish Network’s Hopper DVRFox once again failed to persuade a court to stop the No. 2 satellite company from helping its subscribers stream TV shows from their home DVRs.  The U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld a 2013 District Court decision that rejected Fox’s motion for a preliminary injunction while it debates whether it’s legal for Dish customers to use their Hopper DVRs to transfer shows to different rooms, or stream them to smartphones, tablets and other digital devices. The broadcaster said it would lose advertising and negotiating clout if the service continued while the trial proceeds. The District Court said Fox had failed to prove its point. Appeals court Judge Dolly Gee says today that the lower court ”committed no legal error and made no clearly erroneous factual findings in so ruling.”

Fox says that while it’s “disappointed” in the ruling “it is not unexpected, as the bar for a preliminary injunction is extremely high.” The company adds that it “had nothing to do with the merits of our claim and does not address the fact that ‘Dish Anywhere’ is both illegal and in violation of our existing distribution agreement. We will now move forward and fully expect to prevail at trial.”

But Dish General Counsel R. Stanton Dodge trumpeted “the fifth in a string of victories for consumers” in challenges to its Hopper DVR. “We will continue to vigorously defend consumers’ right to choice and control over their viewing experience.” Sling introduced its streaming technology to the consumer market in 2005.

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Apple Could Sell More Than 40M iWatches At $300 Apiece: Analyst

By | Monday July 14, 2014 @ 1:10pm PDT

Apple Could Sell More Than 40M iWatches At $300 Apiece: AnalystI know, Apple hasn’t even confirmed that it will introduce an iWatch. Yet Wall Street is all about expectations, and Morgan Stanley’s Katy Huberty is so confident that the iWatch will be a hit that she raised her target stock price for the company today — helping it to touch a 52-week high of $96.89 before closing at $96.33, +1.2%. “We view the Apple ‘halo effect’ rather than the current watch market as the more accurate predictor of iWatch sales,” she says. In her first forecast for the product, she figures Apple could sell as many as 60M iWatches in its first 12 months in the market at an average of $300 apiece — as much as half the price going straight to Apple’s bottom line. Consumers would wear a watch “with more sensors, and better form factor and aesthetics than competing devices in the market priced at $100-$250,” she says.
Read More »

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Business Briefs: DreamWorks Animation Stock Downgrade; Aereo Strategy Questions; Cable Nets Rocky Forecast

By | Monday July 14, 2014 @ 10:18am PDT

Business Briefs: DreamWorks Animation Stock Downgrade; Aereo Strategy Questions; Cable Nets Rocky ForecastDreamWorks Animation Shares Touch 52-Week Low

The stock is down about 1% in early afternoon trading after taking a hit early this morning following B. Riley’s Eric Wold’s decision to abandon his “buy” recommendation. It touched $21.90, a 12-month low, after the analyst dropped his price target nearly 22% to $25. Wold acknowledged that his upgrade in March, when the stock value was 23% higher, “proved to be ill-timed and premature.” He calls the box office for How To Train Your Dragon 2 “disappointing” which “may turn DWA into a ‘show me’ stock and keep a ceiling on valuations until more consistent box office results develop.” The good news? Wold still likes DWA’s plans to diversify and expand its TV production. He also says that Dragon shouldn’t require a write-down.

Aereo’s Effort To Define Itself As A Cable Company Could Backfire At FCC: Analyst

Aereo may have bought some time with its attempt to redefine itself as a cable company, but it likely won’t succeed, Guggenheim Securities’ Paul Gallant says this morning. He figures that U.S. District Court Judge Amy Nathan — who’s overseeing broadcasters’ plea for an injunction to shutter the streaming service — will want to hear additional arguments after the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that Aereo could not take over-the-air signals without payment. Justices likened it to a cable company: Copyright law gives operators the right to a compulsory license, which enables them to carry broadcast signals if they pay a relatively low fee set by the Copyright Office. But if the FCC also deems Aereo to be a … Read More »

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Fox Sells Bona Film Group Stake As Distributor Consolidates Ownership In China

Fox Sells Bona Film Group Stake As Distributor Consolidates Ownership In ChinaU.S. shares of China’s Bona Film Group are up 7.7% this morning after the distributor announced two deals that help to consolidate ownership: Its founder and CEO, Yu Dong, agreed to pay $71.4M for the 19.3% stake owned by 21st Century Fox. Separately, Bona plans to sell a 13.3% interest to a Chinese investment group, Fosun Group, which already owns 7.5% of Bona. When the dust settles, the Bona chief will own about 32.3% and Fosun will have 20.8%. Fosun’s deal follows its agreement last month to invest in Jeff Robinov’s Studio 8. 

Fox (in its earlier incarnation as News Corp) bought its stake in Bona in May 2012 and later that year announced a multi-picture agreement to co-produce Chinese language films. The companies say today that Fox’s sale of its Bona stake “has no effect on the five film co-productions … or on the robust pipeline.” One of their co-productions, Bride Wars, began principal photography last month. It’s “the first of our five co-production projects with 21st Century Fox, and we are confident it will be a tremendous success, as it will appeal to the fast growing younger Chinese audience, one of the most important audience groups that we want to capture in today’s market,” Bona’s Yu says. Read More »

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AT&T U-Verse Agrees To Carry EPIX

By | Monday July 14, 2014 @ 7:19am PDT

AT&T U-Verse Agrees To Carry EPIXAnother step forward for EPIX in its campaign to persuade pay TV distributors to add its suite of premium channels to their line-ups. Per usual, this morning’s release doesn’t disclose the deal terms for AT&T‘s agreement to offer its 5.7M TV customers EPIX, EPIX 2, EPIX 3 and EPIX Drive-In. The package will cost $8 a month following a free preview over the July 25 weekend. EPIX — which is owned by Viacom, Lionsgate, and MGM — trumpets its large library of movies. It says that its subs on AT&T will be able to stream more than 3,000 titles via EPIX.com, its EPIX App, EPIX VOD and live feeds of the channel on Uverse.com and the U-verse apps. AT&T “holds innovation and the consumer experience in the highest regard and we are very pleased to embark on this new relationship,” EPIX CEO Mark Greenberg says.

EPIX, introduced in 2009, has been making steady progress in winning over pay TV companies who initially stiff armed the service. Time Warner Cable picked it up in March, and Bright House agreed to do so in June. It still isn’t carried by Comcast and DirecTV, the biggest cable and satellite companies. But today’s deal with AT&T could change that: The telco plans to buy DirecTV.

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