Biden Assembles a Tough Antitrust Team to Rein In Big Tech

President Biden, who named Big Tech critic Jonathan Kanter to lead the Justice Department’s antitrust division last week, has assembled a strong antitrust team to address concerns about the dominant strength and influence of major tech companies across industries including pharmaceuticals, agriculture, healthcare, commerce and finance. If confirmed by the Senate, Kanter will join the Federal Trade Commission’s chairperson Lina Khan, who is known for her work in antitrust and competition law, and Tim Wu, a long-time advocate of breaking up Big Tech who is now Biden’s special assistant for technology and competition policy. Continue reading Biden Assembles a Tough Antitrust Team to Rein In Big Tech

HBO and HBO Max Subscriber Numbers Exceed Expectations

AT&T reported advances made by HBO in Q2 2021: a net gain of 2.85 million total domestic HBO Max and HBO subscribers, including 2.38 million retail net additions, for a total of 47.0 million at the end of the period, representing a gain of 10.7 million over the last year in the United Sates. HBO and HBO Max counted 67.5 million customers worldwide, up 12 million from last year. AT&T chief financial officer Pascal Desroches noted that the numbers exceeded Wall Street forecasts as well as AT&T’s own expectations. Continue reading HBO and HBO Max Subscriber Numbers Exceed Expectations

TV Networks Urge Rating Council to Pull Nielsen Accreditation

The Video Advertising Bureau (VAB), a trade group with members including Disney, ESPN, FOX, NBCUniversal, ViacomCBS and others, urged the Media Rating Council (MRC) to strip Nielsen’s accreditation, stating that, “Nielsen’s COVID-period conduct as a ratings service violated at least five minimum standards, with the damage done to their largest subscriber clients still creating material negative impact into July 2021.” MRC chief executive George Ivie said his group takes the VAB’s concerns seriously but has “an independent process to execute.” Continue reading TV Networks Urge Rating Council to Pull Nielsen Accreditation

Netflix Still Confident Despite New Rivals and Slowed Growth

In Q2, Netflix added 1.5 million new subscribers, slower growth after a peak at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the company isn’t worried, telling investors that it is “mostly competing with ourselves to improve our service as fast as we can.” “If we do that, we’re confident we can maintain our strong position and continue to grow nicely as we have been for the past two-plus decades,” Netflix said, adding that it doesn’t view any particular assets as “must-have,” and that consolidation isn’t impacting its growth. Meanwhile, the company is facing new competitors in the streaming space. Continue reading Netflix Still Confident Despite New Rivals and Slowed Growth

Universal Signs New Streaming Deals with Peacock, Amazon

Starting next year, Comcast’s streaming service Peacock will begin to show movies from sister company Universal Pictures, sidestepping a long-time deal with HBO for initial TV rights. The 2022 movies — which will reach Peacock no more than four months after theatrical release — include the next “Jurassic World” and the new “Halloween” movies. In addition, Amazon has signed a multiyear deal with Universal to bring the studio’s movies to Prime Video and IMDb TV following their four-month runs on Peacock. Under the new deal, Universal movies will be available on Amazon for 10 months and then return to Peacock for another four months. Continue reading Universal Signs New Streaming Deals with Peacock, Amazon

Roku Expands Advertising, Charts Strategy for New Originals

When Netflix founder Reed Hastings spun out Roku, the streaming video box in development, in 2008 and then sold his Roku shares to Menlo Ventures, he had no idea that this stake today would be worth almost $7 billion. Roku grew exponentially during COVID-19, with its shares rising 480+ percent from March 17, 2020; its market capitalization is now $45+ billion. The company, which went public in 2017, has become the dominant “intermediary” for streaming video distribution, with distribution to 50+ million households. Roku is now focusing on original content while continuing to expand its advertising.

Continue reading Roku Expands Advertising, Charts Strategy for New Originals

Steven Spielberg and Netflix Sign Multi-Year Filmmaking Deal

Influential and commercially successful filmmaker Steven Spielberg signed a multi-year deal with streaming service Netflix to make new films under the aegis of his Amblin Partners studio. Spielberg still retains his long-term relationship with Comcast’s Universal Pictures, where Amblin Partners is based. The deal is a win for Netflix, which faces increasing competition from new streaming services including Disney+, HBO Max and Amazon, which is acquiring the MGM movie and television studio with its James Bond franchise in a deal worth $8.45 billion. Continue reading Steven Spielberg and Netflix Sign Multi-Year Filmmaking Deal

Rotten Tomatoes to Debut Channel on Roku, Peacock, Xumo

Rotten Tomatoes has been synonymous with movie scores since it was cooked up by three UC Berkeley undergrads in 1998. The site aggregates reviews from professional critics and provides a “Tomatometer” that averages out the reviews with a Fresh rating when 60 percent or more are positive or Rotten if it goes below that threshold. It also provides an audience score, based on what Rotten Tomatoes users think. Now, the company is debuting an ad-supported OTT service called the Rotten Tomatoes Channel, currently on Roku, to offer nonstop content and a lifestyle brand. Continue reading Rotten Tomatoes to Debut Channel on Roku, Peacock, Xumo

New Telemundo Studio to Solely Produce Streaming Content

NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises announced the launch of Telemundo Streaming Studios this week, a production unit that will exclusively serve the growing need for Spanish-language VOD streaming content. The newly created unit, which already has 35 projects in development, will also offer production services to direct-to-consumer platforms. Latinos are seen as a key cohort in expanding streaming, and Nielsen reported that four out of five have access at home to it. Rival Univision debuted PrendeTV, a free, ad-supported streaming service in March. Continue reading New Telemundo Studio to Solely Produce Streaming Content

Verizon Is Selling AOL, Yahoo and Its Media Brands to Apollo

Telecom giant Verizon announced today that it is selling AOL, Yahoo and its Verizon Media assets, including its advertising technology business to New York-based private equity firm Apollo Global Management for $5 billion. LionTree LLC, a global investment firm focused on media and tech, was lead advisor on the deal and will join Apollo as an investor. The new company will keep the Yahoo name and will be led by Guru Gowrappan, the current CEO of Verizon Media Group. Verizon plans to keep a 10 percent stake in the overall business. Continue reading Verizon Is Selling AOL, Yahoo and Its Media Brands to Apollo

TV Maker Vizio Goes Public on the New York Stock Exchange

Irvine, California-based smart TV maker Vizio had its IPO on the New York Stock Exchange last week, offering 12.25 million shares priced at $21, valuing the company at about $3.9 billion. Vizio chairman and chief executive William Wang, who founded the company in 2002, is focused on the SmartCast streaming platform. Among smart TVs in North America, Vizio is second only to Samsung. Vizio’s platform business grew four-fold from 2018 to 2020, to $147.2 million, with total revenue topping $2 billion in 2020. Continue reading TV Maker Vizio Goes Public on the New York Stock Exchange

NBC Grows Streaming ‘News Now’ Network with Tenth Show

NBC News is debuting two program hours on NBC News Now, its live streaming service. From NBC owned and operated station WRC-TV in Washington, DC, former anchor Aaron Gilchrist will headline a 12:00-2:00 PM slot Monday through Friday that will also be available on NBCUniversal’s streaming hub Peacock. The show will focus on breaking news, supplemented by stories from journalists in the field. The new program boosts NBC News Now to 10 live original hours daily. NBC News also produces “dozens of hours” daily for MSNBC. Continue reading NBC Grows Streaming ‘News Now’ Network with Tenth Show

Nielsen Sells Its Video Ad-Tech to Roku, Part of Multiyear Deal

Roku has inked a multi-year deal whereby data from Roku’s platform will be incorporated in the upcoming Nielsen ONE cross-media measurement product and Roku will acquire Nielsen’s Advanced Video Advertising (NAV) business, which will enable it to offer a fully addressable advertising solution for TV programmers. Under the terms of the deal, Roku will have Nielsen’s video automatic content recognition (ACR) technology and its dynamic ad insertion (DAI) system, allowing it to offer targeted, household-level advertisements. Continue reading Nielsen Sells Its Video Ad-Tech to Roku, Part of Multiyear Deal

VFX House Weta Digital Aims to Become a Content Producer

New Zealand-based Weta Digital, a visual effects company that has worked on such high-profile films as “Avatar” and “Avengers: Endgame,” is making a play to create its own original content. Co-founded by “Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson, Weta Digital recently added firepower to its board of directors, including former Disney chief operating officer Tom Staggs, and is also searching to make strategic purchases in the special effects and animation business since animation can be produced remotely during the coronavirus pandemic. Continue reading VFX House Weta Digital Aims to Become a Content Producer

Universal, Cinemark Sign Deal for Shorter Exclusivity Window

Comcast’s Universal Pictures teamed with Cinemark Holdings, the third largest theater chain in the U.S., to permit online distribution of movies after three weekends (or 17 days) in theaters. The exception is movies that gross $50+ million domestically during their first weekend, lengthening the exclusivity window to five weekends or 31 days. Universal inked a similar deal with AMC Entertainment in July. Pre-pandemic, the exclusivity window was 2-1/2 months from a film’s premiere in theaters until it could be distributed to homes. Continue reading Universal, Cinemark Sign Deal for Shorter Exclusivity Window

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