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NCM Media Networks Promises Audience Guarantees For Movie Theatre Ads As It Spiffs Up FirstLook

National CineMediaAdd movie theatre ad sales power NCM Media Networks to the growing list of non-TV companies using this upfront season to say that they’re safe because — like major broadcast and cable networks — they can guarantee to deliver the audience that advertisers buy. The owner of National CineMedia, which has agreed to buy its chief competitor Screenvision, will offer a Nielsen Post Buy Analysis beginning in Q4, the company said at its presentation today in NYC. “Our new 2014-15 upfront pricing strategy reflects NCM’s repositioning to compete in the TV primetime and live event marketplace,” sales and marketing president Cliff Marks says. That will make it “easier than ever to include cinema as part of a video-agnostic upfront buy.”

In addition, NCM described its new Cinema Audience Targeting Optimizer (CATO) system that will enable brands to specify the film genres around which they want to buy pre-show commercials. It will begin as a test next year for a “limited number of select upfront partners.”

The presentation gave advertisers a first look at the revamped FirstLook pre-show program, to begin this weekend on about 20,000 screens. NCM wants to give advertisers “more organic ways to integrate a brand into the show itself.” Moviegoers also can use the Shazam app on their smartphones to seek more info or interact with theatre ads. That will “give our audiences a true connected-screen experience…and even let them extend their movie experience after they leave the theater,” sales and marketing EVP Dave … Read More »

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UPDATE: National CineMedia Agrees To Pay $375M For Screenvision

By | Monday May 5, 2014 @ 1:17pm PDT

National CineMedia

UPDATE: National CineMedia expects it to take about six months to win federal approval for its merger with Screenvision. But once that’s done it should be able to quickly offer the same pre-show programming across both companies’ theaters, NCM chief Kurt Hall told analysts. It’s “a straightforward process” because as much as 80% of Screenvision’s network receives the content via satellite or broadband. NCM would have to pay $28M if it scraps the deal or it’s rejected by the feds, and Screenvision would pay at least $10M — and potentially as much as $18M — if it changes its mind.

PREVIOUS, 1:17 PM: National CineMedia shares are up about 10% in after market trading following its long-anticipated agreement to combine with Screenvision, which pretty much locks up the market for movie theater ad sales. Screenvision owners will receive $225M in cash and $150M in stock. Carmike owns about 19% of the No. 2 theater ad sales company. After the deal, NCM will serve 210 markets in all 50 states, with 34,000 screens that reach more than 1.1B patrons a year, it says.  No word yet on post-merger management or transition plans — but you can be sure that NCM CEO Kurt Hall will be peppered with questions shortly when he talks to analysts in a conference call for his company’s Q1 earnings, released this afternoon.

The combo comes a little more than a week before NCM addresses advertisers for its annual upfront sales presentation in NYC. The union will result in a “more efficient national network” that will “bring more advertising revenue to our theatre circuit partners and a higher quality pre show to their patrons,” Hall says. But National CineMedia also says that it is withdrawing its financial guidance for 2014 while it determines how the merger with Screenvision will change things.

NCM lost $3.1M in Q1, down from a $1M loss in the period last year, on revenues of $70.2M, -4.8% not including the Fathom Events unit it sold in December. The revenue number, and its five cent loss per share, both matched the Street’s expectations.

Several analysts figured the time was ripe for an NCM-Screenvision merger. Benchmark Co’s Mike Hickey noted last week that the window for an agreement had opened “as Screenvision repairs cash flows in front of expiring theater network deals.”

Here’s the release: Read More »

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National CineMedia CEO: Let’s Pocket Smartphones During Movie Trailers

By | Thursday September 26, 2013 @ 9:15am PDT

It’s too late to imagine that ticket buyers might put their smartphones away during the pre-show ads and programming. “That horse is out of the barn already,” National CineMedia‘s Kurt Hall conceded today at the MKM Partners Investor Day Conference. But the head of the No. 1 cinema ad sales company says people might be willing to pocket their phones during the trailers. That’s where the real interruptions are.” His company could help, he says, by using its technologies that enable advertisers to send messages to phones tied to content that appears on the screen. If you want people to turn off their phones during trailers then “why not have that message come up on the phone itself? It’s a hell of a lot stronger message than having it just come up on the screen.” We’ll see. Meanwhile, Hall says that he’s optimistic about his business as companies — including auto makers — increasingly use movie ads to introduce products and models. “There’s some good news out there about the number of product launches. That’s good news for cinema.” Read More »

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National CineMedia Says Improving Economy And Cost Controls Boosted Q2 Earnings

By | Thursday August 1, 2013 @ 1:12pm PDT

The exhibition ad sales company had a solid quarter, although its outlook for Q3 looks a little worrisome. National CineMedia just reported that it had net income of $9.5M in Q2, up from a $1.9M loss in the period last year, on revenues of $122.8M, +11.5%. Analysts thought revenues would be a little lower, at about $120M. Earnings at 19 cents a share beat the consensus forecast by a penny. Revenues at the main ad sales business were up 15.4% to $116.9M. But the Fathom Events unit, which produces alternative content for theaters, was down 33% to $5.9M. CEO Kurt Hall says that efforts to broaden its client base and expand use of digital projectors paid off — as did cost controls and theater acquisitions by founding members AMC Entertainment, Cinemark, and Regal. National Cinemedia also is benefiting from “steady economic recovery and the impact on the broader media marketplace of increasing DVR adoption and programming fragmentation, making the selling proposition of our expanding national network and engaging theater environment stronger than ever.” Even so, the company projects that Q3 revenue could fall as much as 10% to $130M.

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Deadline Big Media With David Lieberman, Episode 35

Listen to (and share) episode 35 of our audio podcast Deadline Big Media With David Lieberman. Deadline’s executive editor joins host David Bloom to discuss the advertising upfronts this week, including the CBS victory lap and whether an auto ad spending blitz will finance this year’s pricey programming; Daniel Loeb’s (and possibly Les Moonves’) plans for Sony; and National CineMedia’s whiz-bang new technologies to give exhibitors and studios more bang for their in-theater ad bucks.

Deadline Big Media, Episode 35 (MP3 format)
Deadline Big Media, Episode 35 (MP4a format) Read More »

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NCM Media Says Alliances And Mobile Tie-Ins Will Enhance Movie Ads

By | Wednesday May 15, 2013 @ 3:08pm PDT

The No. 1 movie ad sales company owned by National CineMedia says today that its new arrangements with Twitter, Foursquare and Entertainment Weekly will help advertisers to “be a part of the social conversation surrounding movies.” NCM is developing a weekly series about movie topics trending on Twitter that will appear in movie theaters and on the social network. It will offer audiences “a chance to continue the conversation and influence upcoming episodes.” NCM is looking for a presenting sponsor. The company is teaming with Foursquare — which helps smartphone users to connect with nearby people and places — to develop what it calls “local content and offers that are relevant to their movie-going experience.” And the deal with EW will add celebrity interviews and content to NCM’s FirstLook pre-show. The company adds that content from the show will appear in a new five-minute digital version called FirstLook5. It also will launch this month a FirstLook Sync app, that uses audio recognition technology to interact with ads that appear on the movie screen. It will roll out this month in Regal Entertainment’s mobile app. Later it will be available as a stand-alone app, in other movie theaters’ apps, and as part of NCM’s Movie Night Out app.

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NCM Media Unveils Technology That Offers Different Ad Images To Moviegoers

By | Wednesday May 15, 2013 @ 2:24pm PDT

Here’s something that surprised and impressed me in the wash of predictable upfront week announcements: National CineMedia‘s sales arm showed advertisers how a single pre-movie commercial can present different video images to different viewers. The company demonstrated the effect with an emotional ad for the Pedigree Adoption Drive for dogs that was tested in a theater in Australia last year. In that test people were asked when they entered the theater to donate to the drive. Those who did were given different glasses than those who didn’t. When the Pedigree ad ran, donors saw images of mistreated dogs being saved and returned to health. Non-donors saw how abused dogs were chained up and left without sufficient food and protection. While NCM begins to enlist advertisers for the dual glasses program, it also pitched them on 3D ads which the company says generates discussions on social media. 

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National CineMedia Q1 Revenues Beat Forecasts As Ad Market Strengthens

By | Thursday May 2, 2013 @ 1:15pm PDT

The cinema ad company’s economic forecast may prove to be more important than its recent record as it prepares to compete with TV networks and others in the upfront market. National CineMedia reports that it had a net loss of $1M in Q1, virtually flat with last year, on revenues of $82.2M, +3.9%. The revenues topped expectations for $80.2M. But the loss of 2 cents a share was a penny below the consensus. The company says EPS would break even excluding what it calls “derivative” costs. Ad sales were up 11.2% to $73.7M in Q1. But revenues for the Fathom Events unit fell 33.6% to $8.5M, largely attributable to the decision to wind down Fathom Business Events. The company authorized a 22 cent-a-share dividend for Q1 and says it “plans to pay a regular quarterly dividend for the foreseeable future.” It says that Q2 revenue could be up as much as 11% vs last year to $122M, while the full year could rise as much as 4% to $465M. CEO Kurt Hall says that National CineMedia is “benefiting from the steady economic recovery and the impact of time shifting and programming fragmentation in the media marketplace. These macro trends also appear to be helping online and mobile video which has further expanded the video advertising marketplace in which we compete.”

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National CineMedia Plans Giant Interactive Ad Displays For Theater Lobbies

By | Wednesday April 24, 2013 @ 11:37am PDT

The movie ad company is working with Monster Media on the screens, which will be up by Friday at theaters in 10 major markets including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco, and Boston. They’ll measure 10-feet by 8-feet, combining nine 46-inch LCD screens, and can handle “multi-touch, motion activated, kinect-style interaction, photo capturing functionality and augmented reality,” the companies say. NCM Media Networks President Cliff Marks says that moviegoers “spend at least 10 minutes in our theater lobbies, so when our audiences see a brand on the big screen and can also interact with that brand in the lobby environment, it creates a unique level of engagement throughout their movie-going experience that can’t be found in any other video marketing platform.”

Related: Screenvision And Shazam To Promote Movie Theater Smartphone Use With Ads

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National Cinemedia Hints That Q1 Profits Will Please Investors

The movie theater ad sales company gave the head nod this morning as it disclosed its plan to take advantage of today’s low interest rates by repricing its debt. The release adds that the company “is comfortable with the upper end” of its cash flow projections. Stifel analyst Benjamin Mogil seized the opportunity this morning to raise his Q1 revenue estimate 4% to $78M and cash flow projection 12% to $28M. Company execs did their best last week at the CinemaCon confab in Las Vegas to reassure the Street that trends look promising for theater ads. The company “continues to build on its momentum from last year’s upfront presentation and benefits from being a part of the conversation as advertisers and ad agencies plan their media budgets for the upcoming year,” says Barclays’ Anthony DiClemente. “We also think the company is well-positioned to continue to gain market share as contracts come up.”

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Movie Theaters To Offer PaleyFest Panels For ‘Walking Dead’ And ‘Big Bang Theory’

Movie theater owners typically consider television to be the enemy. But many will call a brief truce next month as part of their search for inexpensive, non-movie content that can attract ticket buyers on slow nights. National CineMedia‘s Fathom Events will provide to about 525 theaters discussions about The Walking Dead and The Big Bang Theory from PaleyFest, the annual TV confab that begins next month. On March 7 at 8 PM local time, participating theaters will offer the pre-recorded “PaleyFest Featuring The Walking Dead.” Chris Hardwick will moderate the panel that will include the series’ actors and executive producers. On March 13 theaters will show a live feed of “PaleyFest Featuring The Big Bang Theory” at 10 PM ET/7 PM PT. The session will include “a live and uncensored Q&A with the cast and producers of TV’s most-watched comedy,” the companies say. Theaters promoting the television series will also briefly abandon their bans on cell phone use: Audiences will be invited to submit questions via Twitter.

Related: PaleyFest Finalizes Panel Attendees

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Fathom Events Offers Glenn Beck Political Comedy Show To Movie Theaters

By | Monday August 13, 2012 @ 10:19am PDT

CENTENNIAL, Colo.– Following his successful series of six past cinematic events, leading media personality Glenn Beck returns to the big screen this fall with a new comedy stage show, “Glenn Beck’s Unelectable 2012 Live.” Broadcast live from the Majestic Theater in San Antonio, Texas on Thursday, September 20 at 8:00 p.m. ET / 7:00 p.m. CT / 7:00 p.m. MT (tape delayed) / 8:00 p.m. PT (tape delayed), Beck will use the debate format to say the things politicians can’t – or won’t – say during this election season. From Democrats to Republicans, law makers to law breakers – no one is safe from Beck and his biting, straight-from-the-hip commentary. “Glenn Beck’s Unelectable 2012 Live” will be followed by a second showing in select theaters on September 25 at 7:30 p.m. local time.

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National CineMedia Teams With Amazon To Offer Theatrical Events On Home Video

By | Monday July 30, 2012 @ 11:09am PDT

Exhibition companies hate it when studios encourage people to spend time in their living rooms instead of the local movie house. But theater owners look at things a little differently when they’re the ones producing the entertainment. Case in point: today’s agreement between National CineMedia’s alternative entertainment unit — NCM Fathom Events — and Amazon to provide DVDs and digital downloads of concerts, lectures, and other events produced for movie theaters. Although National CineMedia was created by Regal, AMC, and Cinemark, Fathom Events EVP Shelly Maxwell says the arrangement with Amazon “allows fans to experience select events again from their own living room or available connected device.” Theaters don’t have to worry yet that new arrangement will dent attendance. The first home video being offered is “Dr. Harvey Karp, LIVE: A Conversation About Babies, Toddlers and Sleep.” It’s available on DVD for $19.99 and digitally for $11.99.

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National CineMedia Adds Comedy And Music To Pre-Movie Programming

By | Wednesday May 16, 2012 @ 12:26pm PDT

Moviegoers will soon be able to see comedy clips from Funny Or Die, music videos from VEVO, and food preparation techniques from celebrity chefs in First Look — the pre-movie programming that National CineMedia provides to theaters — the company said today. It will be up to advertisers to decide what content they want to include or create and selections can vary by region, film, and genre. First Look runs for about 20 minutes before the trailers. Here’s the announcement that National CineMedia made today from its first advertiser upfront presentation in New York: Read More »

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Exhibition Company Shares Fall As Investors Prepare For Anemic 4Q Results

The weak box office sales this past weekend made it clear that the year is going to end with a whimper. Regal’s shares fell 8.7%, making it the biggest loser among the theater chains followed by Carmike (-4.9%) and Cinemark (-2.9%). Companies closely aligned with theaters also suffered: 3-D technology provider RealD fell 6.2% while ad seller National Cinemedia was off nearly 3%. “The hoped-for 4Q11 box office pop is slipping away,” says Lazard Capital Markets analyst Barton Crockett. Ticket sales so far this quarter are down about 6.9% vs the same period last year, he says. He predicts the quarter will end down 1.9% following an expected surge of Christmas weekend turnout for Paramount’s Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol as it goes into wide release, Warner Bros’ Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows, Sony’s The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo, Fox’s Alvin And The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, and Paramount’s The Adventures Of Tintin. Read More »

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Media Stocks Hit By Market Fears Of Impasse Over U.S. Debt Cuts

The federal government will have to slash $1.2T in spending, mostly beginning in 2013, if the 12-member congressional Super Committee can’t strike a deficit reduction deal soon. They still appear split — even though, as a practical matter, they have to reach an agreement by midnight in order to have something ready for the official Wednesday deadline. That drove most company shares down, with a late uptick possibly softening the blow. The Dow’s U.S. Media Index was down 1.2% about 20 minutes before the end of the trading day. Disney was hardest hit among the industry’s biggest players: Its shares were -3.5%, followed by Sony (-3.4%), CBS (-2.3%), Viacom(-2%), and Time Warner (-1%). Comcast was up about 0.5%. Among other media companies, Cinedigm (-8.8%) and RealD (-7.2%) took the worst beatings. Others down at least 4% include E.W. Scripps, Entercom, Crown Media, Netflix, National CineMedia, Live Nation, LIN TV, and Dish Network. Gainers include Westwood One, Barnes & Noble, Sirius XM, Radio One, McClatchy, and McGraw Hill.

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Big Media 3Q Corporate Earnings Roundup: Are CEOs Really Worried About Recession? Or Just Looking For Convenient Excuse?

Three months ago, when Big Media CEOs wrapped up their 2Q earnings, they were still relentlessly upbeat about the business. Any worries about the economy? Not then. But the messages they delivered over the past few weeks, as they discussed 3Q, were different. Although they’re still optimistic — remember, they’re paid to be salesmen — now and then you could hear expressions of concern about where things are headed. It stood out when Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman noted that “ad sales growth will face some headwinds.” Other CEOs who are known for speaking bluntly warned that other shocks may bedevil the business. For example, Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen said that his satellite company — and others in pay TV — have to fight harder against rising programming costs because “there’s a limit to the price increases that could be passed on to consumers.” Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt warned that premium channels such as HBO, Showtime and Starz “are clearly impacted by the economy as consumers try to cut back.” Either they’re genuinely worried, or they want a scapegoat to blame for things that are going bad, or may soon do so. Whatever the case, we can expect to hear a lot more about the economy when it’s time for the post-mortem on the all-important 4Q earnings.

As for industry performance matters, parents of movie studios had their usual mixed results to brag about or explain away: Time Warner benefitted from Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2. Viacom was up on Transformers: Dark Of The Moon. And News Corp beat its chest about Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes and X-Men: First Class. But Disney’s Cars 2 was no match for last year’s Toy Story 3. Comcast’s Universal Pictures had nothing to compare to last year’s Despicable Me. Lionsgate suffered from Conan The Barbarian and Warrior. And DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 2 didn’t contribute as much in the quarter as Shrek Forever After did in the same period last year.

Over at the TV networks, Comcast’s NBC underperformed the Street’s already modest expectations. Execs at almost all the companies were eager to talk about the cash they expect to collect soon from political ads — as well as their favorite new ATM machines: retransmission consent deals and digital streamers including Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix. Speaking of Netflix, CEO Reed Hastings once again tried to reassure investors that he’s focused on “building back our reputation and brand strength” after his decision in July to slap a 60% price increase on customers who wanted to continue to rent DVDs and stream videos. In 3Q Netflix lost 57.7% of its market value and 800,000 subscribers. And since that customer loss was bigger than projected, Netflix shares continued to fall — they’re now down 67.3% since July 1.

Here are some other themes from the latest earnings reports:

Ad sales: They’s good, but for how long? Most television networks report that scatter prices are comfortably above the upfront market from this past summer. CBS chief Les Moonves says prices in 4Q are up by “mid-teens” on a percentage basis, while Discovery says it sees least high single digit percentages. But Disney’s Bob Iger noted that scatter prices have “slowed slightly these last few weeks.” Kurt Hall of National CineMedia — the leading seller of ads in movie theaters — was far more direct when he spoke to analysts after ratcheting down his company’s financial forecasts. “I’m sure that the broadcast and cable guys are sitting there now counting their lucky stars they got their upfront done before August,” he told analysts. “There’s a lot of uncertainty.” Read More »

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National CineMedia Reports Record Revenue For 3Q

By | Thursday November 3, 2011 @ 1:24pm PDT

National CineMedia, operator of the nation’s largest in-theater ad network, reported today after the closing bell that it grew revenue by 8.2% year-over-year to $136 million during the third quarter. That’s a quarterly record for the company, which saw its ad revenue jump 8% to $127.1 million; ad revenue is up 3.3% year to date. Net income for the quarter was $16.8 million, or 31 cents a share, compared with $11.8 million and 24 cents a share in 2010. Income for the year is up 40.9%. The company also said that it has authorized a 3Q cash dividend of 22 cents per share of common stock to be paid on December 1 and intends to pay a regular quarterly dividend for the foreseeable future. Read More »

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National CineMedia -18.6% After Weak Ad Sales Warning

National CineMedia took it on the chin as investors reacted to its announcement late yesterday that the softening economy will cause the theater ad sales firm to fall short of its 2011 earnings projections. The stock closed at $12.01, down 18.6% for the day — and bringing its loss for 2011 to 39.7%. Lazard Capital Markets analyst Barton Crockett downgraded the stock to “neutral” from “buy,” saying that “NCM is proving less resilient than more diversified TV networks, and the economy looks like a growing drag” on scatter market advertising. Barclay’s Capital analyst Anthony DiClemente reduced his price target for the stock to $16 from $19 warning that there may be a “pull back on cinema advertising since it is the most premium priced ad medium.”

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