UPDATE, 8:40 AM: Now we can add the Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD to the devices that can receive Starz Play, Encore Play, and Movieplex Play programming from participating distributors. The new apps are available for free at the Amazon Appstore for Android. READ MORE »
This summer Fox will begin testing technology that can update or swap ads that people see when they watch shows on demand, the network’s President of Sales Toby Byrne told buyers today. The goal is …
The new rate schedule eliminates a low-priced option for those who want the streaming video service for at least a year. But Aereo says that by getting rid of daily and yearly pricing for new customers, it is simplifying the rate structure. New subscribers in New York and, beginning on Wednesday, in Boston can pay $8 a month for unlimited streaming of local broadcast station programming and 20 hours of remote DVR storage, or $12 for 60 hours of storage. That’s an improvement for those paying $12 a month. They currently can store up to 40 hours. Current subscribers with that plan will be bumped up to 60 hours. The company also says that new subscribers’ first month of service comes free — they can cancel at any time during the month — and there’s no long-term commitment. Yet Aereo is ditching an $80 a year plan with 40 hours of storage, and $1 a day with three hours. Current Aereo members can keep their existing rates until the membership period ends.
Media CEOs don’t run their companies by themselves. Having looked at chiefs whose pay is out of whack, and those who are paid the most, here are others of note: the five best compensated company chairs, COOs, CFOs, and General Counsels as well as 10 other execs with standout compensation. We find that the five highest paid chairs collectively made $106.5M (+4.1% vs. 2011), with the COOs at $136.2M (+7.5%), CFOs at $77.9M (-15.0%), and General Counsels at $42M (+6.4%). Keep some caveats in mind with these results: I looked only at chairs who aren’t also CEOs, and there aren’t that many. (To avoid duplication, I combined the compensation that Sumner Redstone collected at CBS and Viacom, and that Charles Dolan received at Cablevision and AMC Networks.) Also, it’s often hard to define the roles that execs play. For example, Disney and Comcast don’t list a COO and Comcast’s CFO is also the Vice Chairman. So these compensation figures from company proxy statements can help you to see how the media power elite stack up, but only tell part of the story. Finally, remember that the SEC requires companies to provide compensation information for their five top executives. It’s safe to assume that several unlisted execs at big companies were paid more than some listed execs at smaller ones. Here’s how some of media’s top non-CEOs fared in 2012:
Listen to (and share) episode 34 of our audio podcast Deadline Big Media With David Lieberman as Deadline’s Executive Editor David Lieberman and host David Bloom look at out-of-whack CEO pay; a Washington threat to the Pay TV oligopoly; YouTube goes subscription with 30 new channels; and why Time-Warner’s Jeff Bewkes thinks blockbusters make sense financially.
The morning newscast, which launches June 17, is a top priority for the CNN chief. And while it won’t break the mold, Jeff Zucker says in a briefing today that the effort will stand out over time by blending hard news with a relatively young anchor team featuring Chris Cuomo and Kate Bolduan, and news anchor Michaela Pereira. When he ran NBC’s Today Show “we did play with a lot of gimmicks. Cooking segments and outdoor concerts. Those are not going to be part of this kind of program…People are coming to CNN for the news.” Zucker says New Day won’t try to mimic MSNBC’s Morning Joe: “Its success has been with an elite audience but not with a broad audience. We’re not after a niche audience.” He praised the news focus of CBS This Morning but says New Day will have “a slightly different tone that you’ll get from a new generation.” He hopes to get a jump on his rivals by starting New Day at 6 AM. “The one time of day when people don’t necessarily know what’s happening is when they wake up,” he says.
Let’s establish one fact before we look at the wheels that Sen. John McCain just set in motion with his new bill to end cable channel bundling (read it here). It won’t pass. This isn’t Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. And two things have changed since 2006, the last time the Arizona Republican tried — and failed — to promote a la carte cable pricing. He’s no longer on the Commerce Committee which likely would have to move the legislation forward. What’s more, his new Television Consumer Freedom Act of 2013 has a provision that would strip licenses from broadcasters who move programming to pay TV as Fox, CBS, and Univision have threatened if they lose their court challenge to streaming service Aereo. The provision ensures that the broadcast lobby will join cable to do everything in their power to defeat McCain’s bill. The National Cable & Telecommunications Association has already weighed in. Consumers “enjoy more choice than ever before,” it says adding: “In the face of such innovation and expansion, attempting to force retail models on private providers is unnecessary and counterproductive.” Regardless of what you think about the argument, McCain and his supporters can’t match the lobby groups’ muscle.
The stock price is up nearly 6% pre-market after the company released a Q1 report that showed strong results in most key metrics. AMC Networks generated net income of $61.5M, +42.5% vs the period last year, on revenues of …
The folks at Starz couldn’t have been happy writing this morning’s earnings release. Start with the numbers: The premium cable network company generated Q1 net income of $58.2M, -26.5% vs the period last year, on revenues of $399.3M, …
The satellite company says that it was hit by several factors including the effects of a price increase, rising programming costs, and the continued downturn at Blockbuster. Dish ended up with Q1 net income of $210.7M, -41.5% vs the period last year, on revenues of $3.56B, -7.4%. Analysts thought revenues would come closer to $3.61B. And earnings at 47 cents a share were 6 cents short of the consensus forecast. The company ended the quarter with 14.1M subscribers, +36,000 vs an increase in last year’s Q1 of 104,000. Dish says it was hurt by a rate hike which it did not have last year. The deconsolidation of Blockbuster UK and closing of U.S. storefronts resulted in a 46% drop in the operation’s revenues to $180M, while operating income fell to $1M from $14M. It had about 650 domestic stores at the end of March, down 150 in the quarter, and says it will close another 150 this quarter. In the satellite business, the February price increase contributed to a 3% rise in the average revenue per subscriber to $78.54 a month.
It isn’t the kind of thing a network exec wants to admit the week before broadcasters open the upfront ad sales season. But the News Corp COO, in a quarterly call with analysts, couldn’t avoid the fact that this season’s ratings declines show “it’s not been a great year for the broadcast business overall from a creative perspective.” Carey says it’s time for networks to “discard a few habits and rules and take some shots. Hopefully next week will be the beginning of that process.” While he didn’t offer specifics, he says one possibility is to “be a bit more targeted [in programming] and invest deeper—take fewer bets and bet deeper.” Carey acknowledged that as digital video becomes more popular “there’s no question there’ll be more and more choices and people will find those choices.” But the exec says he still has faith in broadcasting — as long as it can collect revenues from subscriptions as well as ad sales. He declined to offer more insight into his recent threat to make Fox a pay TV service if the courts jeopardize the dual revenue stream model. Some analysts say that could happen if justices agree that streaming service Aereo can distribute local over-the-air signals without paying broadcasters. “If that dual revenue stream is not available, there are other paths we can pursue,” Carey says. He adds that the “most exciting” opportunity for Hulu is to focus on boosting subscriptions. Broadcasters can add “original and other unique product” and “take advantage of its leadership position in the digital space.”
It’s natural to wonder whether Liberty Media Chairman John Malone’s new acquisition of 27.3% of Charter Communications is merely Step One in a plan to make him a U.S. cable titan — the role he played until 1999 when he sold Tele-Communications Inc to AT&T. And while Liberty CEO Greg Maffei doesn’t predict that, he also didn’t rule it out today in a quarterly earnings call with analysts. He says that cable “could be in for a round of consolidation” at a time when it’s so inexpensive to borrow money and large companies covet opportunities to cut costs — for example by negotiating lower prices from programmers. He cryptically adds that even though Charter can do just fine as a stand-alone entity, “we’ll see” whether it ends up being “a consolidator or condolidatee.” Liberty’s stock purchase agreement gives it the right over time to raise its stake to 40%. Will it do so? “We’ll see what time holds,” Maffei says.