As global markets reel from a brutal selloff and a subsequent rally, the cable and media industry has been battling a home-grown rout of its own.» Read More
I love these Hollywood showdowns. Media moguls know how to slap each other in the face more publicly than perhaps any other group. Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen, just gave Viacom's top brass one of those slaps.
Rumors are flying about Microsoft's interest in investing in a 5% stake in Facebook--a stake that would value the social networking upstart at some $10 billion dollars. Viacom and Yahoo have both made bids for the company, Google is reportedly interested (though co-founder Sergey Brin told me back in July that they weren't pursuing Facebook) and now Microsoft's offer is shaping up.
CBS CEO Les Moonves, wanting to dispel concerns that an economic slowdown would hurt ad sales, said that CBS ad sales are up 30% in the current scatter market, at Merrill Lynch's Media conference.
Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman had a point to make to investors at a media conference this week. Dauman said that losing star producers and DreamWorks chiefs Steven Spielberg and David Geffen would be "completely immaterial" to Paramount and Viacom.
Yahoo's take at Internet 2.0. Since Jerry Yang took the helm at Yahoo again, the Internet company's been trying to get back on track. And that means not just getting its ad strategy sorted out, but also starting to compete more with some of the more innovative Internet 2.0 companies, which of course means Facebook and social networking.
Apple, which is widely expected to announce a new line of iPods on Wednesday, has managed to stay one step ahead of the competition--so far.
In this special segment, the masters of Wall Street go face to face with some of the best business school students in the country. Students from Harvard, Yale, Columbia and Wharton are bringing their A-game via the webcam.
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.