Cablevision Systems and AMC Networks announced today they have settled all litigation with Dish Network. Settlement includes a new long-term agreement for Dish to resume carriage of AMC Networks including AMC, IFC, Sundance Channel and WE TV. AMC will return today on Dish channel 131. The other networks will return November 1. That’s good news for Dish subscribers who missed watching The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Mad Men and other AMC shows because Dish had dropped the networks back in June. Dish had maintained publicly it was a carriage fee dispute, but Cablevision-AMC Networks said it really was because of a $2.4 billion breach of contract suit over the satcaster’s decision to drop the now-defunct VOOM Channels that were included as part of AMC Networks spinoff from Cablevision into a separate company.
Settlement terms also call for Dish to pay Cablevision $700 million in cash. As part of the settlement Dish will receive wireless multichannel video and data spectrum licenses that cover a population of 150 million in 45 markets including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Philadelphia.
As the trial proceded in New York Court last week, things looked increasingly bad for Dish as the judge repeatedly denounced the satcaster for its behavior following a string of embarrassing revelations that suggest it tried to hide evidence that it feared might hurt its case. On Thursday, a note was posted on the New York State Supreme Court website that said there was a “possible settlement” when the trial resumed tomorrow.
It started today with a note on the New York State Supreme Court’s website that says there’s a “possible settlement” in the case when the trial resumes on Monday. That was enough to drive up stocks for AMC Networks (+3.9%) and Cablevision (+4.3%) — the companies that filed a $2.4B breach of contract suit against Dish Network following its 2008 decision to drop the now-defunct VOOM suite of HD channels. The settlement hopes also contributed to a 4.8% jump in Dish shares. Investors are eager to see AMC’s channels return to Dish, which dropped them in June, and for the satellite company to be free of the threat of a courtroom loss that is starting to look inevitable following a string of embarrassing revelations that suggest it tried to hide evidence that it feared might hurt its case. “In the context of the $2.4 billion in damages originally sought, we believe a cash settlement could be worth between $200 million and $1 billion…equating to $1-$4 per share in aftertax cash consideration” for AMC,” Barclays Equity Research’s Anthony DiClemente says. He adds, though, that “the amount of a potential cash consideration is less important than the value of a new carriage deal.” Without Dish’s 14.1M subscribers, AMC could lose much as $100M per year in cash flow. “Assuming a 7 year deal, we estimate carriage would be worth $7 per share” for AMC, DiClemente says. Read More »
The new deal, which covers more than 70 services, looks a lot like the one that Disney struck with Comcast in January. Cablevision agreed to introduce channels including ESPN3, ESPN 3D, and the upcoming news channel from ABC and Univision. It also picked up rights to offer much of Disney’s programming on VOD and to stream shows — including to mobile devices when Cablevision’s subscribers are away from home. The companies didn’t disclose financial terms, or say how long the deal runs. But Cablevision CEO Jim Dolan says he considers the addition of VOD offerings “a key element of our video strategy and value proposition to customers.” The cable company faces tough competition from Verizon’s FiOS and AT&T’s U-verse in its core territories in the New York tri-state area. It didn’t raise rates last year, but has held open the possibility of doing so in 2013. Cablevision’s shares are up about 1.5% in early trading.
Here’s the release: Read More »
Cablevision’s amicus brief asking the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York to deem Aereo illegal could sting the fledgling Internet streaming company. Aereo and its defenders frequently cite a case involving Cablevision to justify the service. The court in 2008 agreed with Cablevision’s defense of its Remote Storage DVR technology (RS-DVR), and rejected broadcasters’ copyright infringement arguments. Judges said that the RS-DVRs operate just like home DVRs, even though they store programs on a central server instead of a set top box. Aereo, which is backed by IAC/InterActiveCorp chief Barry Diller, says the same logic applies to its service. Aereo says it rents antennas to subscribers so they can receive free, over-the-air broadcast signals — just as they could at home — before it streams the programming to them via the Internet. But Cablevision says there’s a big difference between its RS-DVRs and Aereo: ”Cablevision pays statutory licensing and retransmission consent fees for the content it retransmits, while Aereo does not,” the brief says. Read More »
The new sales effort puts a spotlight on Kristin Dolan, who’s Cablevision‘s senior EVP Product Management and Marketing — and also happens to be the wife of CEO Jim Dolan, and a member of the boards of Cablevision, AMC Networks, and Madison Square Garden. A long-time Cablevision employee, she formally took charge of Cablevision’s image machine last November. But analysts noted that her power at the company grew early this year as several top execs left, including COO Tom Rutledge and Marketing EVP Jonathan Hargis. (Both are now at Charter Communications.) BTIG analyst Rich Greenflield said in March that Jim Dolan decided to take control of operations because he blamed the old guard for allowing the company to lose ”both its technology and marketing edge.” Marketing is especially important for Cablevision. It faces stiff competition from Verizon FiOS in many of its systems in the tri-state area around New York. The company’s shares are down 7.7% over the last 12 months, a stark contrast to Time Warner Cable’s +43.7% and Charter’s +64.8%. Read More »
The multi-year pact ensures that Cablevision customers will continue to receive programming from CBS-owned stations, Showtime, Smithsonian Channel and CBS Sports Network. In addition, the “broad agreement” will include “new services Cablevision will launch in the … Read More »
The companies didn’t talk today — but Cablevision lobbed a new charge of bad-faith dealmaking at Tribune as its stations in New York, Philadelphia, Denver, and Waterbury, Conn remain dark on the Long Island-based cable operator’s systems. … Read More »
The blackout happened “in the middle of negotiations with Tribune and without warning,” the broadcaster says. It means that Cablevision’s 3.3M cable customers now can’t see New York’s WPIX, Philadelphia’s WPHL, Hartford’s WCCT, and Denver’s KWGN. Like most retransmission … Read More »
The exhibition chain has 45 theaters with 230 screens in the tri-state area around New York City, and includes Manhattan’s famed Ziegfield Theater. But “it is not a strategic asset for us,” Cablevision CFO Gregg Siebert told analysts this morning. … Read More »
“Cablevision is witnessing one of the most dramatic and rapid management turnovers we have ever witnessed in our coverage of the media universe,” says BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield — Wall Street’s fiercest critic of the company and its strong-willed CEO Jim Dolan. Greenfield commented after the Long Island-based cable operator announced that David Klein is leaving as head of Cablevision Media Sales, to be replaced by Gregory McCastle, who was with AT&T. The move follows the exit of COO Tom Rutledge (now CEO of Charter), CFO Mike Huseby (who just became CFO of Barnes & Noble), President of Cable Operations John Bickham, CMO Jon Hargis, Corporate Engineering EVP Jim Blackley, and Consumer Operations EVP Kip Mayo. Greenflield says that Dolan is taking control of operations because he blames the old guard for allowing the company to lose ”both its technology and marketing edge.” The problem? “We simply do not have enough confidence in Jim Dolan to drive free cash flow growth in 2013 and beyond,” Greenfield says. Cablevision has lost 58.1% of its market value over the last 12 months.
Here’s today’s announcement. Read More »
UPDATE, 5:15 AM: Cablevision provided this description of Kristin Dolan’s background and her responsibilities as Senior SVP of of Product Management and Marketing following the departure of Marketing EVP John Hargis: “She is currently focused on brand identity and new product initiatives, and has been with the company for more than 20 years. This includes many years working directly in the Cablevision product group, during which she took a leadership role in the development, launch and continued development of our iO TV digital cable service. For the last three years, she has been running our Strategic Product Development Group, focused on long-range development across all of our services. She is well known and highly regarded in the industry.”
PREVIOUS, WEDNESDAY 8 PM: Marketing EVP Jonathan Hargis, who has been with the company since 2000, is the latest high level exec to bolt — and that’s sure to leave investors even more baffled than they were before about CEO Jim Dolan’s plans for Cablevision. The official word is that Hargis will resign this month “to pursue other opportunities.” But the company release didn’t name a replacement, which suggests that Jim’s wife Kristin — who’s senior executive vice president of product management and marketing, and a member of the Cablevision board– will play a bigger role. Analysts who have tried to determine how broad a mandate she has, and how Jim plans to manage things, say that they’ve yet to hear satisfying answers. Prior to Hargis’ departure, BTIG’s Rich Greenfield urged management explain
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The fear for a lot of investors is that Madison Square Garden Chairman Jim Dolan has too many agendas that will lead him to avoid compromising with Time Warner Cable in their dispute over payments for channels including regional sports powers MSG and MSG+. Madison Square Garden shares fell 1.4% today — a contrast to the overall market which was up about 1.6% — after Dolan yanked the services from Time Warner Cable on New Year’s Day when their carriage contract expired. The companies remain far apart on terms, and don’t even have plans to resume negotiations. That’s a big risk for MSG: Time Warner Cable accounts for about 2.5M MSG subscribers, about a third of its total. The $112M that the cable company pays annually for the channels amounts to about half of Madison Square Garden’s estimated cash flow for its current fiscal year. But execs close to both companies say that Dolan is determined to show that he’s no pushover. The part time blues guitarist knows he’d probably have to kiss MSG’s music channel Fuse goodbye if he allows Time Warner Cable to drop it — something the pay TV company says it wants to do because so few people watch it. Dolan’s main job as CEO of Cablevision gives him an additional incentive to show his moxie. Time Warner Cable has long pined to Read More »
Cablevision Shares Plummet After COO’s Surprise Resignation
That was quick. Just days after Tom Rutledge shocked the cable industry by leaving Cablevision, he has emerged as CEO of Charter. The No. 4 cable operator is still struggling to regain its momentum since 2009 when it emerged from bankruptcy protection. That’s been tough because many of Charter’s systems are in rural areas where satellite companies are popular. But Charter’s focused effort to build its broadband business, and make needed upgrades to its systems, has enabled it to outperform many of its cable industry peers. Charter shares are up 3.4% in after hours trading, recovering from the 3.3% drop during the day. Here’s the company’s release:
ST. LOUIS, Dec. 19, 2011 — Charter Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: CHTR) (“Charter” or the “Company”) today announced that its Board of Directors has concluded its previously announced CEO search process and appointed Thomas M. Rutledge as President and Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Rutledge joins Charter immediately and will become the President and Chief Executive Officer effective February 13, 2012. Mr. Rutledge will also become a member of the Charter Board of Directors at that time.
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Following Time Warner Cable’s deal for HBO Go on Friday, Cablevision had remained the only major cable operator not to offer the HBO streaming service.
BETHPAGE, NY—December 19, 2011 – Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) today announced an agreement to offer its iO TV® customers access to HBO’s authenticated online video destinations, HBO GO® and MAX GO®. Cablevision customers who subscribe to HBO and/or Cinemax will have free, unlimited access to the corresponding online services at any time, on any computer in the U.S. with a high?speed Internet connection as well as iPad®, iPhone®, iPod touch® and select AndroidTM devices. The company expects to launch these services in the next few months.
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You can have your pick of rumors this morning about why COO Tom Rutledge suddenly decided to leave — and what it means for Cablevision’s future. Maybe he had a falling out with Charles and Jim Dolan, who control the No. 7 cable operator (including Verizon and AT&T in the pack). Maybe Rutledge got a better offer to run Charter. Maybe the Dolans decided to try again to take Cablevision private — or to sell the company, logically to Time Warner Cable considering how many adjoining systems the companies have in the New York area. But since nobody really knows, investors are left to fear that the departure of one of the industry’s most respected operators means there’s trouble ahead: Cablevision shares opened down 13%. If that holds, then it would shave about $506M from the company’s market value and take the stock to its lowest point in more than two years. Miller Tabak analyst David Joyce lowered his stock recommendation to “hold” from “buy” — and lowered his short-term price target to $15 from $22 –saying that the news “puts a question mark over Read More »
This is a big, big deal for Cablevision. Tom Rutledge is considered one of the best operators in the cable business — a level-headed guy and fierce competitor who’s equally comfortable handling questions about technology, finance, and marketing. Bernstein … Read More »
It will be interesting to see whether Cablevision ever discloses how much it spent on legal bills since 2009 to prevent customers of Verizon’s FiOS and AT&T’s U-verse from seeing HD feeds of MSG and MSG+. The regional sports channels are owned by Madison Square Garden, a company that’s controled by the Dolan family which also controls Cablevision. Whatever the cost, it seems to have been for naught: Cablevision today threw in the towel in one of the industry’s longest and most baffling battles after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit denied the company’s appeal of an FCC order in September requiring MSG to provide the HD feeds to two of its toughest competitors. FiOS customers in the New York area began to receive the sports channels in HD today; U-verse should have them soon. Read More »