Articles of the Day


There’s Us Too: AOL Intensifies Talks With Microsoft and Yahoo On Possible Sale — AOL, feeling a bit left out in the last few weeks as things turned really ugly in the Yahoo , Microsoft and Carl Icahn ménage à trois, is now accelerating its own sale talks. Its reluctant parent Time Warner has been talking to Microsoft and Yahoo separately, and has intensified deals talks ahead of Yahoo’s crucial Aug 1 shareholders meeting, reports Reuters. Some scenarios: a deal with Yahoo would likely involve merging it with AOL, with Time Warner taking a minority stake in the combined company. A deal with Microsoft would likely be an outright sale of AOL to the software giant. AOL is already splitting off its ISP business and focusing on its content/apps online services, as well as its sprawling online ad services under Platform-A. Yahoo’s merger with AOL is one way it could show its shareholders that it could grow without Microsoft.

Amazon.com’s Streaming Service To Launch in Limited Beta Tomorrow; Links With Sony Bravia — Amazon.com is launching its new streaming online movie and video service tomorrow…the new service is called, surprise surprise, Amazon Video on Demand. Some details of the service were inadvertently pre-announced by CEO Jeff Bezos at the D conference in May. It will be available at Amazon.com/VOD when it launches…well, not yet fully. Turns out it is only launching in beta now, and will be accessible to a limited number of invited Amazon.com customers on Thursday before it opens more broadly to other users later this summer. The service will be separate from its Unbox download service, though one would assume they would be merged down the line.

Gannett Q2 Revenue Down 9.9 Percent; Income Down 19.7 Percent; Stock Crushed — Gannett is still assessing its big writedown announced last month, so technically its quarterly numbers are preliminary… The USA Today parent reported Q2 revenue of $1.79 billion, down 9.9 percent from $1.91 billion in the year-ago quarter. Income from continuing operations fell 19.7 percent to $232.7 million ($1.02 per share) from $289.8 million ($1.24 per share). Ad revenue at the core publishing business was down 13.5 percent to $1.1 billion. The classifieds category, not surprisingly, was hit the hardest, dropping 18.7 percent. On digital, the company offers a couple data points: Online broadcast revenue was up 17.1 percent, though it doesn’t give a baseline, nor does it give an equivalent number for publishing. It says in June it had 23.1 million unique visitors across its network of sites. We’ll see if they offer more on the call. As for the goodwill writedown, its expecting after-tax charges somewhere in the $2.4-$2.7 billion range. One other note: Gannett says it purchased 581,000 of its own shares in the quarter and 2.1 million year-to-date.

eBay Q2 Revs Up 20 Percent; Income Up 22 Percent; Skype Up 51 Percent — Online auctioneer eBay announced Q2 revenue of $2.19 billion, up 20 percent from $1.83 billion in the year-ago quarter. The top-line figure slightly exceeded estimates of $2.17 billion. Adjusted net income grew 20 percent to $568 million ($.43 per share) from $471 million ($.34 per share) a year ago—again, this was slightly ahead of estimates. Core marketplace revenue (ebay, Shopping.com, StubHub, and Kijiji) was up 13 percent, while ad revenue within this unit was up 183 percent (no dollar amounts were given). At the communications business (Skype), which is constantly at the center of strategic speculation, revenue was up 51 percent to $136 million. Skype ended the quarter with 338 million users, adding 29 million in the period. PayPal continues to grow briskly, with revenue up 33 percent to $602 million. On the conference call, the company announced the retirement of Marketplaces chief Rajiv Dutta, who will be replaced by Lori Norrington, formerly the CEO of Shopping.com. Dutta will stay around for the transition.

Lionsgate Brings Movie Clips To YouTube; Rev Share; YouTube on Tivo — This could represent an easing of tensions between Google and the Hollywood studios. Lionsgate has a deal with YouTube to run ad-supported video clips from the film company’s movies. Google CEO Eric Schmidt heralded the news at an Ad Age/William Morris Agency conference, Reuters reported. Unlike Viacom, which is continuing with its $1 billion copyright infringement suit again YouTube, Lionsgate Vice Chair Mike Burns felt it was time to call a truce—and about time to get paid for the scenes of Dirty Dancing, Saw, Crash and other titles from the studio that invariably get posted on the site, albeit without authorization. Lionsgate’s branded YouTube channel is expected to be up quickly. Terms of the ad-sharing deal weren’t disclosed. In the meantime, Google said it is talking to other studios about constructing a similar arrangement to the Lionsgate deal.

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