The cable company has a stake in the high court’s view of Aereo: Cablevision opened the door for the streaming service in 2008 when it beat back a challenge by broadcasters to its remote storage DVRs. Courts in that case agreed with the cable company that there was little difference, in legal terms, between a DVR that stored shows miles away on a remote server vs a set-top box. Aereo says the same principle applies to its remote antennas: They pick up over-the-air TV the same way consumers would if they had an antenna at home. But Cablevision says, in an amicus brief today, that it disagrees with arguments from Aereo and broadcasters alike. The streaming service should be deemed illegal, Cablevision says, because it’s “functionally identical to a cable system” that must pay broadcasters for the right to retransmit their over-the-air signals. “The fact that Aereo delivers programming on an individualized basis through mini-antennas and hard-drive copies does not change the basic nature of its service.” But Cablevision says that broadcasters go too far when they argue that their copyrights give them broad rights to determine what happens with the shows that they transmit. That view, if upheld, would “imperil nearly any cloud technology that enables remote storage and playback” such as Amazon’s MP3 Store and player. Although broadcasters say they wouldn’t threaten such services, Cablevision says they “advance an overbroad prior performance theory and then, in an effort to avoid its absurd results, engraft on an ad hoc exception for cloud technologies.”
The companies got into trouble after they ran ads for FilmDistrict‘s 2013 thriller Olympus Has Fallen that include the distinctive Emergency Alert System warning sounds, the FCC says today as it proposed what it calls the largest ever penalties for its misuse (watch the ad below). Viacom will be hit hardest with a $1.12M fine for airing the ad 108 times over five days on Spike, VH1, MTV, Comedy Central, MTV2, Centric, and BET. NBCUniversal will have to cough up $530,000 for running the ad 38 times over six days on Syfy, USA, and five regional sports networks. And ESPN follows with $280,000 for running the ad 13 times over four days on ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNEWS. “The FCC has long prohibited the transmission of actual or simulated EAS Attention Signals or tones in circumstances other than a real alert or an authorized test of the EAS system,” the FCC says. The cable companies said that the rules don’t apply to them because they don’t participate in the EAS program, the FCC notice notes.
You can bet that government officials and opponents of Comcast’s $45.2B planned acquisition of Time Warner Cable will scrutinize its just-released third annual report describing how it has fulfilled the promises it made in 2011 to win FCC approval for the deal to buy NBCUniversal. Opponents already say the cable giant can’t be trusted. ”To the extent that Comcast has a history of breaching its legal obligations to consumers, such history should be taken into account when evaluating Comcast’s proposal for future market expansion,” Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) said last week in a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. But Comcast says the new 90-page report shows that it has “continued to meet and in many cases exceed our obligations.” For example, it says that its Internet Essentials program has provided home broadband service to more than 250,000 low income families, and has exceeded by 64 the requirement to provide courtesy video and broadband to an additional 600 schools, libraries and community institutions in underserved areas. (The company says that tomorrow it will “make an important announcement about the future of the [Internet Essentials] program.”) For online video Comcast says it has “new or renewed agreements with Amazon and Netflix, among others” resulting in a third year in which it has made these deals to provide programming to potentially competitive services without having to go to arbitration.
The firm behind shows including Gold Rush, Unexplained Files, and Dangerous Persuasions will have the freedom to expand into scripted programming and produce “high-quality independent films” following the deal, the companies say. They didn’t disclose how much Discovery paid for Raw, but say that it will “continue to operate independently from its London headquarters” with all of its current staff. “We are looking forward to Raw infusing our ever-expanding creative pipeline with compelling stories that will be seen on Discovery’s networks around the world,” Discovery Studios and Production Group President Lee Bartlett says. He adds that the deal is being unveiled on the same day that Discovery rebranded the Military Channel – now called AHC: American Heroes Channel. The two events illustrate “Discovery’s ongoing strategy of increasing investment in new brands, new content creators, new programming genres, and new opportunities across more platforms in more regions of the world,” Bartlett says.
In this week’s podcast, Deadline Executive Editor David Lieberman and host David Bloom look at the many implications of Netflix’s big, big deal with Comcast to ensure better video quality of its shows streamed by their mutual customers. The deal could affect the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger, net neutrality issues, the business of online video and much more, and likely will serve as a template for other content-quality deals to come. They also take a peek at a multimillion-dollar production-incentive package that persuaded Disney to shoot a Netflix-only Marvel series in New York City and preview another interesting Disney online-content venture, this one involving live streaming online of this weekend’s Oscar telecast on ABC.
Netflix was the clear winner and Twitter an equally clear loser in what was generally a pretty good earnings season for media companies based on the market reactions to execs’ quarterly reports and commentaries. Among 25 of the biggest or most interesting companies that I track, 17 beat the overall market in the trading day after they announced their results while eight lagged. I calculated the results by looking at how much each stock rose or fell in the trading day after the company reported. Then, to reduce the effects of changes in the market, I subtracted any gains or added back any declines in the day’s movement of the benchmark Standard & Poors’ 500. The results show that Netflix was +17.4% after it exceeded analyst expectations for its revenues, profits, and domestic streaming subs in the last three months of 2013. But Twitter’s -25.4% indicates that its first earnings report was a bust as CEO Richard Costolo, faced with disappointing sub growth numbers, vowed to make the service easier for newbies to use.
Here’s how the group stacks up:
The cable giant has said that, if it buys Time Warner Cable, it will jettison systems with 3M subs to bring its market share below 30% — once a federally mandated cap. But instead of selling the franchises to another …
Liberty Media is too important a company to ignore, but since it’s mostly a holding company for stock in other publicly traded entities there’s rarely anything surprising in its earnings report. That’s pretty much the case this morning …
ABC says this is the first year when it will stream the full Oscar telecast, pre-show, and Jimmy Kimmel Live: After the Oscars — though they’re just for pay-TV customers in certain markets. But anyone will be able to check out programming designed for tablets and smartphones to complement the TV broadcast, something that the network began offering in 2011. As for the telecast itself: It’ll be available live and, for three days beginning Monday, on demand online at Oscar.com, ABC.com, and WatchABC.com – and mobile users can tune in through the Watch ABC app. The streams will only go to markets where ABC owns the local station (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Houston, Raleigh-Durham, and Fresno), and they’ll only be accessible to those who subscribe to pay TV services that support the app (Comcast, Cablevision, Cox, Charter, Midcontinent, Verizon FiOS, Google Fiber, and AT&T U-verse).
Looks like CEO Josh Sapan‘s comments to analysts addressed whatever concerns investors had about AMC Networks’ mixed Q4 earnings report this morning. The company’s stock price opened slightly down but quickly, and steadily, appreciated throughout the morning: …
The retail chain’s stock price is up more than 6% in pre-market trading after it beat the Street’s earnings estimates in its report on the otherwise dreary quarter. Best Buy generated net earnings of $294M in the three months ending …
The DVR pioneer attributes its bottom line shortfall to an “unanticipated” $4.8M charge for its TiVo Research and Analytics business. But CEO Tom Rogers followed the media mogul playbook for dealing with bad news: The company increased its stock repurchase authorization by $100M, which it plans to spend in the current quarter. For the quarter that ended in January, net income of $710,000 contrasts with a $15.8M loss in the period last year due in part to a $54.4M hit for litigation expenses. Revenues came in at $106.3M, +19.7%. Revenues were well ahead of the $84.1M that analysts anticipated. But earnings at a penny a share were short of the Street’s expectation for 4 cents. Total subscriptions increased 33.7% from last year to 4.2M. This also was the first time in six years that the company reported an increase in the number of people who bought DVR service directly from TiVo as opposed to through a cable or satellite company. The number was up by 6,000 from October to 966,000. Rogers attributes the increase to the release of the the TiVo Roamio DVR that enables users to stream their TV programming at home. The company is “finding that TiVo Roamio’s value proposition is being increasingly understood by our customer base,” he says. As for the TRA charge, Rogers says that “the pace of the transition from antiquated TV measurement to something more in line with online measurement has been slower than what we expected” in 2012 when it bought the operation.
This is part of Samsung‘s effort to help its gadgets stand out from the consumer electronics pack. By early 2015, owners of the company’s smart TVs, tablets and smartphones who watch certain TV shows will be able to …
Disney To Film Marvel Series For Netflix In New York As Part Of Multimillion-Dollar Incentive Package
New York was “our first choice” to film four NYC-based Marvel “Defenders” series and a miniseries planned for Netflix beginning in 2015, Disney CEO Bob Iger said today during a press event in NY announcing the deal. But the Empire State’s taxpayers had to help seal the deal for what officials say is the biggest film or TV production commitment ever for New York: The state provided the entertainment giant with undisclosed breaks and incentives estimated at $4M for the project that’s projected to create 3,000 jobs including 400 full time ones in the Big Apple. They’ll work on 52 one-hour live action episodes and a miniseries built around Marvel characters Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage in what Disney calls “the gritty world of heroes and villains of Hell’s Kitchen, New York.” Taxpayers had to sweeten the terms for Disney because there was “a lot of competition from different cities” to land the production, Iger says. Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the commitment is “exciting,” and a win for his efforts to broaden the economic base which heavily depends on financial institutions. The economic downturn in 2008 “was a wake-up call for the state of New York…you have to diversify,” he said at announcement with Iger. The Disney chief says that no decision has been made with Netflix about whether the series’ episodes will be released all at once or individually.
Here’s the release from Disney and New York state:
DreamWorks Animation shares are down 13% in early trading this morning after last night’s disappointing Q4 report that included a $13.5M writedown for Turbo, a film that CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg previously said would be profitable. The weak performance added to analyst concerns that DreamWorks Animation’s Mr. Peabody & Sherman may also fall short of investor expectations after March 7 when it’s released in the U.S. Here’s the early line following last night’s report and conference call:
- Sterne Agee’s Vasily Karasyov (“Underperform” rating on DWA with a price target of $17 a share): Peabody & Sherman‘s opening numbers in the UK and France “look soft while the production cost is $18M higher than that for Turbo, increasing the probability of another write-down,” he says. The film based on the classic TV animated characters will generate $160M at domestic box offices and $280M abroad, he projects, but after losses for Turbo and Rise Of The Guardians “the risk is squarely to the downside.”
- Janney Capital Markets’ Tony Wible (Buy, fair value estimate $39): He projects $125M at U.S. box offices for P&S after a $25M opening weekend. Even so,