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.
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 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 …
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.
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:
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.
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.”
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.
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 …
The numbers look bad. Instead of seeing 2011 revenues grow 8% to 10%, the projection in August, National CineMedia now says that it could end the year anywhere from -5.8% to +1.8%. Estimates for the key cash flow figure — Adjusted OIBDA (operating income before depreciation and amortization) — are even worse: …