Viacom Shares Plunge

Viacom Shares Plunge

Viacom shares were down more than 21% Tuesday after disappointing fiscal first quarter results only seemed to exacerbate what has been a trying time for the programmer.

Viacom’s domestic ad revenue dipped 4% in the fiscal first quarter, the latest in a long line of declines which apparently spooked investors enough to ignore an announced advertising venture with Snapchat and an extension to its carriage negotiations with Dish Network.

Viacom shares were down as much as 22% ($9.34 each) to $32.51 in early trading Tuesday, closing at $32.86 each, down 21.5% ($8.99 per share).

Viacom has been under pressure for more than a year on stiff ratings decline as its largely millennial and younger subscriber base has shifted their viewing habits to online and over-the-top video. Turmoil surrounding succession issues with founder and largest shareholder Sumner Redstone, who passed the executive chairman title to CEO Philippe Dauman last week, also have weighed on the stock.

USA Picks Up Wahlberg’s ‘Shooter’

USA Picks Up Wahlberg’s 'Shooter'

USA Network has picked up Shooter, a drama based on the Point of Impact novel by Stephen Hunter and the 2007 film starring Mark Wahlberg.

The co-production with Paramount Television and Universal Cable Productions comes from executive producers Wahlberg of Closest to the Hole Productions, Stephen Levinson of Leverage Entertainment, and Lorenzo di Bonaventura.

Ryan Phillippe is a producer and will star as Bob Lee Swagger, a marksman living in exile who is coaxed back into action after learning of a plot to kill the president. Omar Epps joins him in the cast.

“Shooter is an uncompromising exploration of the definition and evolution of a hero,” said Jackie de Crinis, executive VP, original programming, USA Network. “The conspiracy and drama that unfolded throughout the first hour had us completely immersed, and we look forward to more.”


The Force Drives Disney Q1

The Force Drives Disney Q1

As expected, the success of its blockbuster movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens helped drive record overall results at The Walt Disney Co., but continued weakness at its ESPN unit, driven by subscriber losses and the poor timing of the College Football Playoff games, eroded profits in its television segment.

“Driven by the phenomenal success of Star Wars, we delivered the highest quarterly earnings in the history of our Company, marking our 10th consecutive quarter of double-digit EPS growth,” said Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger in a statement. “We’re very pleased with our results, which continue to validate our strategic focus and investments in brands and franchises to drive long-term growth across the entire company.

Net income for the quarter was a record $2.9 billion, up 32% from the $2.2 billion generated in the prior year. Earnings per share rose 36% to $1.73 from $1.27 in the prior year. Consolidated revenue increased 14% to $15.2 billion and segment operating income increased 20% to $4.3 billion.

In its media networks division, which includes ESPN and its ABC broadcast network, revenue rose 8% to $6.3 billion but operating income was down 6% to $1.4 billion. Cable network revenue was up 9% to $4.5 billion, while operating income fell 5% due to a decrease at ESPN, which the company said was due to higher programming costs partially offset by an increase in advertising and affiliate revenue.

Disney said results were negatively impacted by the timing of the College Football Playoffs – six more games were aired in fiscal Q1 than were aired in the second fiscal quarter in the prior year. Those additional games helped drive advertising revenue at the cable networks up 12% in the period, but the added costs drove down profits. ESPN weathered some criticism that two national semi-final games were shown on New Year’s Eve (Dec. 31) when most young viewers were not at home watching TV. As a result ratings for the contests were lower than expected, resulting in ESPN having to pay advertisers up to $20 million in make-goods, according to a report in sister publication Broadcasting & Cable.

Affiliate revenue at the cable networks was up 4% in the period, reflecting a 7% increase in contractual rates, partially offset by decreases of 2% due to fewer subscribers and 2% from unfavorable foreign exchange impact.

President Nominates Hayden as Librarian of Congress

President Nominates Hayden as Librarian of Congress

President Barack Obama has nominated Carla Hayden as Librarian of Congress, a job that is not about shushing noisy Congressmen. The Copyright Office, which is under the Library, is an important front in the battle between Silicon Valley and Hollywood over access to, and protection of, content.

“As Librarian of Congress, she’ll work in close partnership with Congress, support the copyright office that serves our nation’s creative communities, and explore new ways to share the information housed within our library through innovative technologies,” said Obama.

Hayden, who comes from the Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Free Library and before that the Chicago library system (Obama became acquainted with her there), would be the first African American and first woman to hold the post.

“We congratulate Dr. Carla Hayden on her nomination,” said Motion Picture Association of America President Chris Dodd.

“The Librarian of Congress plays a pivotal role for the copyright industries and the nation as a whole as the custodian of our intellectual and cultural heritage. We look forward to learning more during the confirmation process about Dr. Hayden’s vision for leading the Library and honoring the role of copyright as a driver of knowledge and creativity, as well as an engine of our nation’s economic growth and positive trade balance.”

The Copyright Alliance had some definite ideas of what that vision should be.

“We in the Copyright Community hope that Dr. Hayden will demonstrate a deep respect for the value of copyright; appreciate and support the value of authorship to our culture and the laws that protect that authorship; cultivate a direct relationship with the Register of the Copyright Office, Maria Pallante, and continue the deference that the Librarian of Congress has historically demonstrated to the Register of Copyrights,” said Copyright Alliance CEO Keith Kupferschmid.

“A librarian who has experience modernizing library information technology is exactly what we need to bring the Copyright Office into the 21st Century,” said the Computer and Communications Industry Association.

Public Knowledge, which is arguably the most visible fair use advocate, cheered the nomination. Library associations tend to be on the fair use side of the copyright debate, with studios on the other.

““We are pleased that the President has nominated a Librarian for the 21st century,” it said. “Dr. Hayden’s track record of advancing the public interest speaks for itself: from protecting privacy and ending the digital divide to advocating for the public’s right to access information, Dr. Hayden has consistently exhibited just the sort of priorities we would expect of the head of an institution that should be more than just a repository of culture and knowledge, but a pioneer in enabling access to these treasures.”

NBCU Plans Global Telemundo Enterprises Headquarters

NBCU Plans Global Telemundo Enterprises Headquarters

NBCU’s Telemundo Tuesday said it will be combining operations in a new 450,000 square foot, $250 million headquarters in Miami-Dade County, Fla.

The facility, on 21 acres at NW 25th Street and the Florida Turnpike, will initially be home to 1,100 employees with room to grow to a total capacity of 1,300.

It will combine the Florida-based operations of the Telemundo Network and studios (which are currently in Hialeah and Medley, respectively), Telemundo International (Coral Gables) and cable network NBC Universo and its digital media and NBCU’s Latin American headquarters (Miami Springs).

NBCU said the headquarters will create 3,000 construction and construction-related jobs and generate $400 million in business for South Florida, with a planned move-in date of early 2018.

“This is a very important step in the evolution of our company at a time when we’re enjoying tremendous momentum and have just wrapped a record-breaking year,” said Cesar Conde, chairman of NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises and NBCUniversal International Group, in announcing the new digs. “Our new global headquarters will fold all of our division’s offices and production studio spaces into one state-of-the-art facility that will help us do business in a more collaborative way.”

Conde called it a “significant investment [that] clearly underscores once again NBCUniversal’s and Comcast’s long term commitment to our business and the U.S. Hispanic market.”

Starz Greenlights ‘The White Queen’ Sequel

Starz Greenlights 'The White Queen' SequelFaye Marsay as Anne Neville in Starz’s ‘The White Queen’

Starz has greenlit production for limited series The White Princess, a followup to it’s 2015 The White Queen miniseries event.

Emma Frost (The White Queen, The Man in the High Castle, Shameless) will serve as showrunner and executive producer of the eight-part series, which tells the story of England’s War of the Roses from the perspective of the women.

The White Princess is based off of the best-selling novel of the same name by Philippa Gregory, who also serves as executive producer for the limited series.

“The White Queen was a phenomenal performer at Starz, averaging 4.8 million multiplatform viewers per episode in the United States,” Carmi Zlotnik, managing director for Starz, said in a release. “There is a dearth of programming that tells women’s stories and The White Queen was embraced with great success by audiences worldwide The passionate fanbase for Philippa Gregory’s historical novels are undeniable and we are confident The White Princess will become the next must-see fandom drama series.”

Viacom Gets Dish Extension

Viacom Gets Dish Extension

Viacom president and CEO Philippe Dauman said the cable giant has received a short extension onl its carriage agreement with Dish Network and is hopeful a longer term deal can be reached.

Viacom’s carriage deal with Dish’s 14 million subscribers was scheduled to expire at the end of the month. Investors were concerned that, given Viacom’s ratings pressures, there was a strong chance Dish would consider not carrying the channels.

Dauman announced the extension on Viacom’s fiscal first-quarter conference call with analysts, adding he expected a deal can be reached that will be “productive for both sides.”