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U.S. movie rental chain Blockbuster said Wednesday it has bought film download service Movielink for undisclosed terms, giving it a stronger hold in an area where rival Netflix is also staking a claim.
Stocks are finding their feet on higher ground this morning as a positive tone embraces equities markets worldwide. Oil continues to back down from the new high struck earlier this week.
I can't help but comment on Viacom's earnings. On Thursday, the media giant beat Wall Street estimates, thanks largely to the filmed entertainment division's profit quadrupling. But the studio (Paramount and DreamWorks) is a much smaller part of the company than the 'Media Networks' division, which includes MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, Spike TV, etc. I'd say Viacom's largest challenge moving forward is growing its ad revenue on these cable networks...
Stocks closed higher as investors were encouraged by strong earnings reports despite lingering subprime concerns. "There wasn't much negative news today from the subprime market and people still want to buy the market," said Todd Leone of Cowen. "We were way oversold and I think you have some people putting money to work."
Walt Disney reported a 4.7% increase in net profit Wednesday, driven by strong television program sales and higher receipts at its theme parks.
Viacom posted a bigger-than-expected quarterly profit Thursday, boosted by DVD sales and the box office hit "Shrek The Third," sending shares up 4 percent.
CBS announced second-quarter earnings that disappointed on the top line, beat expectations on the bottom line, and landed flat with growth-hungry Wall Street. Revenue disappointed--down 3% to $3.37 billion on a loss of TV revenue from shutting down UPN and the timing of the NCAA basketball tournament.
While Wall Street weathers the market drop, Comic Con--the annual comic convention--is at a full roar in San Diego California. And the highlight to any true fanboy is the bit of information producer J.J. Abrams is releasing about his mysterious Paramount Pictures' movie. The trailer premiered right before "Transformers," a guaranteed blockbuster, with that obsessive young male audience, primed to get psyched for a big new idea--perhaps a big new monster. In a summer of sequels, this new movie looked fresh, and there was no title.
Gideon Yu, 36, became chief financial officer of video-sharing sensation YouTube in September of last year, shortly before the company was acquired by Google in a $1.65 billion deal.
Adam Sandler's faux gay comedy "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry" charmed $34.8 million from moviegoers its first weekend in theaters to nudge the latest "Harry Potter" film from the top of the box office, according to studio estimates on Sunday.
The conflict between Sumner Redstone, chairman of Viacom and CBS, and daughter Shari Redstone, vice chairman of the two media companies, grew more bitter on Friday: The paterfamilias publicized his displeasure with Shari's ostensible ambition to succeed him, in a harshly-worded letter to Forbes.
Earnings misses by tech darling Google and Caterpillar, one of the Dow's power drivers, are adding to a wobbly opening on Wall Street. Citigroup though is a bright spot with a better than expected 18 percent profit gain and record revenues from investment banking and overseas business.
Sumner Redstone thinks he'll live forever. Last fall on CNBC's "Conversations with Michael Eisner" when Eisner asked what his succession plan was, he said he'd live forever. If Thursday's news is any indication he was serious! It's been widely reported--first in Fortune and then also immediately in The Wall Street Journal, that Sumner and Shari Redstone had a huge falling out and that Shari would be stepping down from Viacom's board--presumably trading her stake in Viacom and CBS for full ownership of National Amusements, the theater chain which she currently runs and also has a stake in.
Sumner Redstone, the 84 year old chairman and controlling shareholder of Viacom and CBS, is negotiating a settlement with his 52 year old daughter Shari under which she would step down as a director of both CBS and Viacom and relinquish her roughly 20% stake in National Amusements, the holding company that owns a controlling stake in both CBS and Viacom.
I snagged Viacom CEO Sumner Redstone for a sit down interview during Allen & Co's day of tech panels. I was glad to catch him as last night, as Google Chariman and CEO Eric Schmidt told a bunch of reporters asking about Viacom's lawsuit against Google--that Viacom has "built its business on lawsuits."
Google took a swipe at media conglomerate Viacom, which is suing the Internet search leader and its video sharing site YouTube for $1 billion over "massive copyright infringement."
It's been a whirlwind here at the Allen & co. Conference--watching and interviewing all the biggest names in the media world. Everyone's paying close attention to Rupert Murdoch. He rushed into the Sun Valley Inn Wednesday morning just in time for breakfast. .
"Transformers" took the box office by storm this weekend, bringing in a total of $152 million at the domestic box office since it opened on Tuesday, and a total of about $250 million worldwide. This isn't just a nice summer opening--this is huge news for Paramount, which is going to get a huge boost from this hit: not just from its take on this film, but also from the fact that it's Paramount's first potential franchise since Mission Impossible. And unlike the MI series, they're not relying on a huge star (Tom Cruise), nor are they paying him a huge chunk of gross.
The media world loves to get revved up about elections and this year the issue is voter registration. Norman Lear is spearheading a campaign called "Declare Yourself." And no surprise, Lear, perhaps one of the most successful television writer/producer in TV history, is using his contacts and his expertise, turning TV humor into a tool. He's gotten two of the stars of "Reno 911" to create four videos to get what they're calling "the target demographic" to vote.
I attended the "Transformers" premiere Wednesday night--and my first star spotting epitomized the importance of the film for its parent company. It was Sumner Redstone (he qualifies as a star for the CNBC set) and he was slowly retreating from the hubbub of the red carpet and (surrounded by bodyguards) slipping into a black car.