Some of Wednesday's midday movers:» Read More
On Friday, I reported about Nielsen's upcoming social networking site, 'Hey! Nielsen.' The idea is to mine online buzz to find out what movies, music, tv, and online video people are talking about online, with the idea to eventually turn that buzz into relevant numbers for advertisers. Nielsen won't be the first to look to social networks for insight.
After Michael Bay declared on his blog that he was refusing to direct "Transformers 2" because he was so upset about Paramount ditching the Blu-ray format to be exclusive to HD DVD, Bay has changed his tune. He followed it up with a post saying he'd overreacted, had been convinced by some Blu-ray fans. He says he was convinced to support HD because he learned that HD had cheaper players--around that $200 magic number.
When Viacom's MTV unveiled its new "Urge," online digital music destination at the big Consumer Electronics Show last year, it had all the earmarks of a major initiative. Justin Timberlake joined Van Toffler on stage during Bill Gates' keynote to unveil the service which would ultimately be tied to the then-upcoming Zune media player from Microsoft.
The blogosphere is swirling with rumors about how Paramount's decision to ditch the Blu-ray format in favor of HD DVD (see my previous post), could cost the studio big time. It all started with the director Paramount's biggest hit, "Transformers." On a forum on his own blog--www.shootfortheedit.com--director Michael Bay posted the following:
Another battle in the very long war. For years Sony's Blu-ray has been battling with Microsoft and Toshiba-backed HD DVD. And everyone--the studios, the disc and player manufacturers, and consumers--is just dying for one format to emerge victorious and the other format to fall the way of the BetaMax. HD DVD just scored an unexpected win, after Blu-ray had taken the lead. DreamWorks Animation and Viacom's Paramount (including DreamWorks Studio) just committed to releasing their films...
There's no question that Blockbuster's livelihood is under attack--the business of driving to a store to rent a DVD and driving back when you're done is threatened from video on demand, and digital downloads, especially since both technologies are getting better and faster. So, looking to avoid going the way of the Beta Max, Blockbuster just purchased online movie downloading company Movielink for under $20 million.
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.