Archive for Blockbuster

Articles of the Week

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 16, 2009 by Dave Liu

AOL’s Web Strategy Refined Yet Again With MediaGlow — AOL is tweaking its website strategy yet again. As the company struggles with the slowdown in display ad activity, it is giving its web publishing unit a formal name, called MediaGlow. AOL’s Bill Wilson will go from EVP of programming to president of the new unit, which will oversee programming’s 75 sites, NYT reports. AOL plans to create 30 more sites this year. The formation of MediaGlow is meant to move AOL away from being a portal, as opposed to a publisher with niche sites, like “edgy” younger men’s site Asylum and its female counterpart Lemondrop.com, something it’s been working towards for over a year.

Hearst Says Seattle P-I Will Either Be Sold, Close Or Go Web-Only — Following yesterday’s leak to a local TV station that Hearst Corp. was planning to sell or close the Seattle Post Intelligencer, the parent company has confirmed that it is seeking a buyer for the daily, the paper itself reported. The unidentified source who tipped off KING-TV yesterday about Hearst’s plans told the station that the company is pessimistic about finding a buyer in this dismal environment. Publicly, Hearst sees three possibilities for the Seattle P-I, which is one of only two of the city’s daily papers: it will either be sold, turned into a web-only publication or shuttered.

CBS Interactive’s TV.Com Relaunches With Video From Showtime, Sony, Endemol And More — A follow-up to the TV.com relaunch we first reported last month… the CBS Interactive (NYSE: CBS) site, which already sports its new front-page look, is expanding its video catalog with content from Endemol, Sony (NYSE: SNE) Pictures TV, MGM, PBS, and sibling Showtime. TV.com is trying to tilt its image from a community site about television to a video destination. “The thought is to weave in this entertainment into the overall community experience,” explains Anthony Soohoo, SVP and GM of CBS Interactive Entertainment and Lifestyle. “We want to use it more as a starter, a fuel to start the conversation versus letting it be so overbearing that it overtakes the rest of the community.”

Yahoo TV Effort Comes At The Right Time — At the Consumer Electronics Show, Yahoo unveiled a range of new televisions and other devices loaded with software developed with chipmaker Intel Corp. that allows users to call up Web pages and tools for use while watching TV. BusinessWeek notes that past attempts to marry the Web and TV have fizzled badly, but some analysts claim that Yahoo’s efforts come at the right time, because consumers are finally ready to enjoy a range of media from a single device. Apple’s iPhone, which users use to surf the Web as well as to make phone calls and text messages, is the perfect example. “This is a very intelligent chance Yahoo is taking,” says Mukul Krishna, global director of digital media at research firm Frost & Sullivan. “Google and Microsoft will be looking at this very closely.”

Report: Google Shows 58% More Ads, Could Report Record Quarter — A major source of frustration for financial analysts covering Google is the fact that the search giant issues no forward-looking guidance. As a result, analysts’ expectations for the stock can vary widely. The gigantic question mark in the company’s recent fourth quarter performance is whether demand for search advertising increased, and by how much. According to data from AdGooroo, a Chicago-based search research firm, Google led its competitors during the fourth quarter with 58% growth in the average number of ads it showed per keyword on the first search results page (4.01 keywords in Q4 vs. 2.54 in Q3). In December 2007, Google actually ran 4.84 ads per keyword, but since then, the company has made a concerted effort to improve the quality of the ads it shows. The result has been far fewer first page ads per keyword in 2008, though these are ostensibly of a higher quality. Looks like Google may have decided to return to showing more ads per keyword in light of the recession.

Major Shake-up At Sling Media: Krikorian Brothers, Hirschhorn, White, Wilkes Leaving — Little more than a year after Sling Media’s sale to EchoStar (NSDQ: SATS), the co-founders and the top team at Sling Entertainment are leaving the company, paidContent.org has learned. The news is being broken to staff in meetings going on now. Departing are brothers Blake and Jason Krikorian, respectively CEO and SVP-business development, and Jason Hirschhorn and Ben White, president and chief creative officer of the Sling Media Entertainment Group. The senior executives agreed to stay in place for at least a year following the acquisition, which was valued at $380 million, but we’ve been expecting one or more to leave—especially given the entrepreneurial bent. The move comes after a burst of good publicity about the new Sling DVR, iPhone app and
back-to-back best of shows at CES and Macworld.

M&A Report: ‘08 Interactive Ad Deals Down 29 Percent — Now that 2008’s finally closed out, we get a better read on the state of the market in terms of M&A—and Petsky Prunier’s latest Deal Notes report (via ClickZ) shows that the interactive advertising space was hit pretty hard: transactions were down 29 percent from 2007, and investors spent about five times less in 2008 than they did in 2007. Of course, 2007 was the year of the ad network/exchange feeding frenzy: Google (NSDQ: GOOG) bought DoubleClick for $3.1 billion, Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) acquired aQuantive for $6 billion and Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) paid $680 million for Right Media—so those deals and the economic implosion skewed the results. Still the numbers are worth a look: Deals down sequentially and year-over-year in Q4 : There were 31 deals worth about $436 million in the interactive ad space in Q408—down 18 percent in terms of volume from Q3, and 29 percent in terms of money spent. Year-over-year the stats were worse: transaction volume was down 55 percent from Q407, and dollar value was down 77 percent. Overseas interactive agencies were a big draw : Interactive agency deals dominated the M&A activity in Q4, with eight deals worth a total of about $83 million. Interestingly, big ad holding companies focused on shoring up their digital practices overseas: Aegis Group acquired Malaysia-based shop IF, Publicis picked up Brazil-based Tribal, and Microsoft’s Razorfish’s gobbled up Spanish shop WYSIWYG.

Google’s Russian Fortunes: May Lose Ally, Snubbed By Firefox — In the fast-growing Russian internet scene, one of the big three portals, Rambler, could be about to lose its CEO, after dropping market share and seeing the sale of its advertising unit to Google (NSDQ: GOOG) fail. Mark Opzumerom won’t renew his contract, which ends in March, after Rambler.ru’s share of Runet’s search market fell from 14.9 percent last year to just 6.4 percent, business paper Vedomosti says (via Yakov). Rambler had agreed to sell its Begun contextual advertising platform to Google for $140 million in a summer deal that would also have seen Google replace Rambler’s own on-site search box. But the acquisition was curiously blocked in October by Russian antitrust authorities, arguing Google had not supplied the necessary paperwork. Google has already moved on and is testing the provision of search to leading social net Odnoklassniki. An exit for Opzumerom may suggest the Begun-Google deal may not be revisited.

Yahoo’s Board Picks Carol Bartz For CEO — It’s official: Carol Bartz as CEO is in and Sue Decker is out. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Carol Bartz has been picked by Yahoo’s board of directors to succeed Jerry Yang as CEO and that she has accepted the job. Bartz, executive chairman and former CEO of Autodesk, first emerged as a candidate last week, some two months into the search. A Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) spokesman said he could not comment on whether an announcement is due today. Update: Bartz wasn’t on anyone’s public short list last November when Yahoo cofounder and CEO Jerry Yang, who was under pressure from the minute he took the post from former chairman and CEO Terry Semel, announced his decision to step down. The last time Yahoo plucked a CEO from the outside, the board went with seasoned entertainment vet Semel—a sign of its interest in media and entertainment, This time, the choice seems to be a Silicon Valley insider but it may not signal anything more than a belief that she has the right management experience, public company background and style mixed with industry know-how to steer a very troubled company that should be more successful than it is. Yahoo does a lot of things right but none of that matters as long as the image is of a company that is flailing.

Microsoft Gains Searches, Yahoo Acquisition On Horizon? — AdGooroo’s Q4 Search Engine Advertising Update, released Tuesday, points to major gains for Google and Microsoft–including 58.0% and 42.3% growth in advertisers, respectively. Yahoo trailed with 8.8%. “Microsoft has begun to close the
gap in advertising share with Yahoo, but based on the previous quarter’s numbers I would have expected that to take longer,” said Rich Stokes, AdGooroo founder.

Harvard Prof: Deceptive Ads ‘Rampant’ On Yahoo’s Right Media — Yahoo’s Right Media automated ad network allows “deceptive” banner ads to “run rampant through its system,” according to a new report by Harvard Business School’s Ben Edelman. Edelman estimates that as many of 35% of the ads shown through Right Media are deceptive. Right Media, which offers an automated auction platform for advertisers and publishers, said in a statement that it has “rigorous platform standards and guidelines” and doesn’t allow its system to be used in a “misleading, deceptive or illegal manner.

Euro VC House Balderton Targets Downturn Innovation With $430 Million New Fund — Fresh from making $140 million from the sale of Bebo and a “substantial return” on the sale of MySQL, Balderton Capital is announcing a new $430 million (£285 million) tech and media fund to capitalise on promising business plans thrown up in the downturn – proving that VCs really mean it when they say money is still available for good ideas. Though private equity is finding it harder to raise money from banks, Balderton – which was Benchmark’s European arm but span out in 2007 – assembled most of its new fund from investors in just two months, general manager Barry Maloney told FT.com: “We are about to enter a very interesting time for new investments, if not for exits. Part of the reason for raising this fund now is to take advantage of the opportunities that this stage of the cycle throws up.” Innovation gets another spurt in times like these, many investors say, explaining that Web 2.0 came off the back of the dot.com crash. VC money isn’t going away – Accel unveiled a $525 million new London fund last month.

Epperson Out At Havas Digital, CEO Role Split Across London, Madrid — In a move that centralizes more of the power for its digital media operations on the European continent, Paris-based Havas is restructuring the top management team of Havas Digital, following the departure of its Boston-based CEO Don Epperson on Jan. 31. Epperson, an entrepreneur with a deep background in finance and technology, joined Havas in 2001 when it acquired HookMedia, an early Boston-based digital shop he founded in 1998, and which became the backbone of Havas Digital’s operations.

Google Shuts Down Google Video Uploads, Notebook, Dodgeball, Jaiku, Mashup Editor — The day of the long knives at Google (NSDQ: GOOG) when it comes to products. In a burst of blog posts late Wednesday, the company announced the closure or impending closing of a batch of products, some more widely available than others: Google Notebook, Dodgeball, Google Catalog Search, microblogging servie Jaiku, and the Google Mashup Editor. You could call it thinning the herd as Google looks for ways to cut back ever so slightly on
engineering and to divert resources to projects that may have a chance or making money or could be more powerful when it comes to the same functions. Google is also halting uploads to Google Video, directing users instead to YouTube and Picasa.

Blockbuster To Bring Video To PCs And Mobile Devices In Q2 — In what is being considered a defensive move against Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX), Blockbuster (NYSE: BBI) said today it is going to start offering thousands of films and other titles to a number of devices as soon as the second quarter. The devices range from PCs and Macs to media players, Blu-ray Disc players, set-top boxes and mobile phones, Reuters reports. Users will be able to download or stream the movies on an ala carte basis, which will allow Blockbuster to offer newer movies than Netflix, which is frequently criticized for having out-of-date titles. Blockbuster may also consider
subscription services in the future.

Google, SpotMixer Launch Self-Service Video Ads — Google and One True Media–the parent company of online video ad creator SpotMixer–today are expected to publicly launch a self-serve video ad creation service for Google AdWords customers to produce and distribute cable television ads via Google TV Ads. Neither partner company would discuss the financial details of the new deal, One True Media CEO John Love did say there is more to it than just exposure for SpotMixer.

AOL Sports Becomes FanHouse — AOL Sports is rebranding as FanHouse, adopting the name of its popular blog for the entire sports site. The move follows on the heels of AOL’s creation of a new publishing unit called
MediaGlow that will launch more than 30 new sites by year’s end. Besides a redesign, FanHouse will feature expand coverage including on-site coverage of major sporting events, improved scoreboards, more video and RSS feeds from top sports writers. Over the next year, the site aimed at males aged 18 to 54, will also launch specialized sports properties including a mixed martial arts site.

Yahoo CEO Says She Will Spend A Lot Of Time looking At Selling Search Business, But ‘Gut’ Says Not To Sell — Yahoo, the Sunnyvale, California Internet company’s new Chief Executive plans to devote time looking at selling its search business, reported the Wall Street Journal. The article, citing people familiar with comments the new Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz made during a company-wide meeting Wednesday, reported Bartz said she plans to spend a lot of time looking into selling the unit but that her “gut” was to not sell the unit. Bartz also said she spoke with Steve Ballmer, the Chief Executive of Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), the Redmond, Washington software company, after taking the job at Yahoo. The report noted that Yahoo’s board of directors isn’t pushing for a quick deal. Source: mergermarket.

How Heavily Will The Recession Weigh On Tech? — The Economist : The news from technology bellwethers like Microsoft, IBM, Motorola and Intel has been awful of late. According to several blogs, Microsoft and IBM are preparing to get rid of 16,000 employees each, or 17% and 4% of their workforces each. This may or may not be true, but The Economist says the news is telling nonetheless, as the cuts would be the biggest in
information technology history. Meanwhile, Motorola earlier this week said it was cutting 4,000 jobs, and Intel on Thursday reported that fourth quarter profit absolutely fell off a cliff, plummeting 90%. These are the signs of the industry’s current plight, The Economist says, adding: “Hardly a day passes without reports of collapsing revenues and workers being laid off.” So, is the tech industry headed for a worse downturn than the one
that followed the dotcom crash?

BrightRoll: Video Ad Rates Fell 25% In Q4 — Average pre-roll ad rates for online video in the fourth quarter dropped 25% from the year-earlier period and 12.5% from the prior quarter, according to video ad network BrightRoll. Pre-roll rates on average were down 14.2% in 2008 from 2007. BrightRoll, whose network spans hundreds of sites, declined to provide actual average CPM figures for business reasons. But average online video CPMs are generally estimated to run from $20 to $25.

Social Nets Threaten Ad Agency Growth — Advertising agencies are not prepared for the changes that will come as a result of new forms of media such as social networks, a new study claims. The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising’s “Social Media Futures” report warns that ad agencies face growth of just 1.2% per year by 2016 if they fail to tackle the changes prompted by the emergence of social networking. Recommendations from friends are obviously more influential than traditional forms of advertising. Because social networks enable consumers to pass on information about products and services, advertisers need to be able to take advantage of that trend. A good example of this is the Cadbury “Gorilla” spot, which has been viewed on YouTube more than 10 million times, or Dove’s famous “Campaign for real beauty,” which can also be seen on YouTube and other online video sites.

Blockbuster Dumps Movielink Tech After A Few Months; Goes With Cinemanow Instead — Blockbuster’s so-called plans have been changing in real time these days, it seems, as the world changes in real time as well: We pointed out yesterday Blockbuster’s continuing vaporware plans for online and mobile video. What was lost in the shuffle was the fact that the rental chain has dropped the technology behind Movielink, the online video service it bought in 2007 for a firesale price of $6.6 million (after $148 million was invested in it over the years), and will now go with one-time rival Cinemanow’s technology for its new online movie service, to be launched in Q2 this year. It had been integrating the Movielink service with Blockbuster.com for a few months now, but after testing it out in closed beta, it is now dumping the tech part, even though the content deals remain
in place, as Variety points out.

eBay Founder Omidyar Launching New Startup Ginx, A Twitter-Based Sharing Tool — After starting eBay (NSDQ: EBAY) in 1995, he’s spent the last fewyears investing in new sites like Digg, Goodmail and Meetup.com. Now the auction site’s chairman Pierre Omidyar is back in the startup saddle. PEHub found an SEC filing listing Omidyar as an executive of secretive new Honolulu-based outfit Ginx, prompting speculation last night as to the business model. So the company has now issued a release confirming Ginx is being created by Peer News, co-founded by Omidyar and eBay’s former classified ads VP Randy Ching: “Ginx is a Twitter client that aims to provide Twitter users with a rich experience for sharing and discussing links. Ginx was created to enable people to become more actively engaged in the news and topics they care about.”

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 10, 2008 by Dave Liu

Razorfish CEO Kokich: Microsoft’s Not Selling Us—But Ask Me Again In Two Years — Clark Kokich, the CEO of Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) online ad agency
Razorfish, is downplaying rumors that its parent Microsoft is shopping it
around. He tells Techflash pointedly that Microsoft has no plans to sell
the company, which became part of the Redmond company when it paid $6
billion for Razorfish parent aQuantive in May 2007. However, he did leave
the door open to sale in the not-too-distant future. Just because there are
no plans at the moment, doesn’t mean that in “two to three to four years
from now, it might not happen,” Kokich said.

UK’s Virgin Media May Sell Content Divison — Days after negotiating an
improved deal to bring Sky’s basic TV channels back to it’s 3.5 million TV
customers for upwards of £30 million, Virgin Media (NSDQ: VMED) is now
considering selling its content division, according to sources quoted by
FT.com. The division includes digital channels Virgin 1, Dave and Watch,
and though FT.com’s sources stress the company has not been “hawking the
business around” to potential buyers, a sale has been discussed at board
level. Conversations ran along the lines of turning the business into “a
series of communication platforms rather than producing any content of is
own”, the story says.

YouTube’s Content Thaw: MGM Posting Full Shows and Movies On It — Frozen
out of most of mainstream full length content, YouTube’s repository is
beginning to thaw a bit, as traction among competitors such as Hulu and TV
networks’ own sites begins to grow: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios (MGM) is
tying up with the Google-owned video site, and will start posting episodes
of its decade-old “American Gladiators” program to YouTube, along with
full-length action films like “Bulletproof Monk” and “The Magnificent
Seven” and clips from popular movies like “Legally Blonde,” the NYT
reports. Some would point out that the financially troubled MGM has nothing
to lose from these experiments, unlike other studios still sitting on the
sidelines.

Blockbuster Changes Its Mind: To Roll Out Set-Top Box For Holiday Rush
AppleTV, Netflix flicks on Xbox 360, and now … a set-top box from
Blockbuster? Consumers can expect one this holiday season, according to Jim
Keyes, Blockbuster’s CEO and Chairman. The company plans to roll out a unit
that will deliver movies on demand from its Movielink download service.
Keyes made the announcement during an investor call this week, Home Media
Magazine reports, though he didn’t offer any details about the
manufacturer, pricing or availability. It’s a complete about-face from what
he told us back in August: namely, that Blockbuster (NYSE: BBI) felt no
urgency to launch its own set-top box any time soon. Perhaps the continued
success of rival Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX) sparked the change of heart—after
all, Netflix had a stellar Q3 (in contrast to Blockbuster’s lackluster
performance), and continues to broker content distribution deals with new
partners like TiVo and Apple.

Yahoo’s Restructured Deal With AT&T: $350 Million Upfront Payment — Yahoo
(NSDQ: YHOO) restructured its AT&T (NYSE: T) broadband/DSL co-branded deal
earlier this year, and at the time, no specific amount was announced,
though Yahoo expected aggregate revenue outside of traffic acquisition
costs to decline by $150-200 million over 2007 because of the
restructuring; Yahoo also expected a $300-400 million upfront payment from
AT&T recognized over the life of the contract. Now in its 10-Q for Q308, it
has the exact number: $350 million as the upfront it got from AT&T, which
was recorded in long-term deferred revenue in Q108 and is being recognized
in marketing services revenues over the underlying service period. Also
this year, it restructured a similar Verizon (NYSE: VZ) deal, though no
specific details have come out for that.

NYTCo Takes $166 Million Writedown For New England Media Group; Faces $400M
Refinancing
— The New York Times Company (NYSE: NYT) filed its 10-Q with
the SEC Friday and it’s not a pretty sight. The company projected a
$140-150 million write down for the New England Media Group when it
reported Q3 results Oct. 23; the number reported in the 10-Q is $166
million with adjustments to come in Q4. That puts the Q3 loss for the News
Media Group at $153 million and the overall loss for Q3 slightly over $106
million. The company has two $400 million revolving credit agreements, one
due in May 2009 and one in 2011. S&P lowered its rating twice this year,
the second time below inv*stm*nt grade; Moody’s has lowered its rating once
and serviced notice that it may do so again. As we reported recently, NYTCo
isn’t in danger of breaching its covenants; there are also no accelerated
payments subject to ratings downgrades. But the downgrades do make
financing trickier and more expensive—and they almost certainly guarantee
that the company faces more restrictive covenants. From the 10-Q: “We are
evaluating future financing arrangements and are in discussions with our
lenders regarding the expiration of one of our credit agreements, scheduled
for May 2009. Based on these discussions, we expect that we will be able to
manage our debt and credit obligations as they mature.” (For the dramatic
interpretation, read this from SAI while listening to Celine Dion. Update:
Should have added that one of SAI’s investors is Kohlberg Ventures, which
is run by James Kohlberg, one of the dissident shareholders appointed to
the NYTCo board. ).

Former Time Vet Robin Domeniconi To Head Up MSFT Ad Sales In U.S. — After
a string of high-profile ad-exec departures,Microsoft has made a key hire:
former Time Inc. vet Robin Domeniconi. Starting January 1, Domeniconi will
serve as VP of U.S. ad sales, reporting to VP of global sales and marketing
Bill Shaughnessy; she’ll oversee sales across MSFT’s roster of digital
products, including MSN and Windows Live, Xbox LIVE, Live Search, and
Facebook. The senior executives who have left MSFT recently include Kevin
Johnson, President of Platforms and Services, and Digital Sales GM Lisa
Utzschneider. While it’s clear that Domeniconi is not taking Johnson’s
place, it’s not clear who will be reporting to her. A company spokesperson
said that the hierarchy won’t be determined until she starts.

Admeld Launches New Platform, Adds Barrett As CEO — Ad optimization
technology provider AdMeld today is expected to launch a new platform to
help publishers maximize revenue from digital ad networks and ad exchanges.
The AdMeld platform, which is emerging from an eight-month beta program,
attempts to leverage dynamic pricing and advanced targeting to better route
inventory from publishers to generate higher revenue for each ad served.
AdMeld is also announcing the appointment of new Chief Executive Officer
Michael Barrett. The online ad veteran most recently served as EVP and
chief revenue officer for News Corp.’s Fox Interactive Media.

BitTorrent In Complete Disarray: President and CEO Leave; 18 Employees Laid
Off
— Goes to the point that P2P is not a business model in itself, and
then, of course, bad management will even make it worse: BitTorrent, the
San Francisco-based company that has been trying to develop an online video
service and company around the open source P2P delivery technology, has
been in deep trouble for a while now, and the issues came to fore this
week, as the CEO and President of the company have left. The company has
also fired about half of its employees, 18 in number, and this after it
laid off 20 percent of the staff in August.

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 25, 2008 by Dave Liu

Microsoft Announces Search Deal With Facebook; Expands on Ad Deal — Google-MySpace Part II? WSJ reports that Microsoft will unveil a search deal with Facebook at today’s analyst meeting…. Update: The news was just announced by Microsoft’s Satya Nadella on stage at the company’s analyst meeting, after first reciting a long list of technical accomplishments that the company had achieved in search. Here’s the exact announcement based on the transcript (so it’s a little sloppy): “One last thing I want to talk about is an extension of our Facebook relationship where we are extending it to search and page search. We will be providing an API to Facebook where they will create a rich search experience for the Facebook users and that is something that they will launch in the fall working with us. And it will carry both our web results, as well as our page search advertising. We are excited (transcription error here) as an opportunity to further expand the Live Search reach. That is what I have in terms of anteing up and focus (sic) our invention and reinvent the business model. Let me flip back to Steve.”

AOL Trimming Up For Sale; Sun Sets On XDrive, AOL Pictures, Mobile And Others — Some belt tightening has started at AOL,, as it prepares and dresses itself up for a sale: It is discontinuing some of its tech projects, and also trimming some of its content blogs under the Weblogs Inc network. According to an internal memo sent by Kevin Conroy, AOL’s EVP of Products and Marketing, products Bluestring, Xdrive and AOL Pictures “will be sunset,” meaning closed down after a transition period. “These consumer storage products haven’t gained sufficient traction in the marketplace or the monetization levels necessary to offset the high cost of their operation,” according to the memo posted here by TC.

McClatchy Q2 Revenues, Profits Plummet, As Online Ad Sales Grow 12.5 Percent — The McClatchy Company’s financial struggles only seemed to deepen in Q2, as Gary Pruitt, the publisher’s chairman and CEO, pinned the weakening economy and the shift from print to digital on its revenue and income decreases. Revenues were down 15.6 percent to $489.7 million in Q2 compared to last year’s $580 million. And while online ad sales grew 12.5 percent in the quarter, since they made up only 11.8 percent of total ad dollars—compared to an 8.6 percent share for all of 2007—it was not enough to offset wider declines. In all, McClatchy’s ad revenue fell 16.8 percent to come in at $406.3 million. Meanwhile, Q2 net income from continuing operations was $20.1 million, or 24 cents per share, down by roughly 50 percent from last year’s $40 million.

Vivendi’s H1 Revs up; Universal Music’s Digital Revs Up 33 Percent — Vivendi, the France-based media giant and parent of Universal Music Group, has reported its first half 2008 and Q208 earnings, and its revenues totaled $17.7 billion, compared to $16 billion for the first half 2007. For Q2, Vivendi’s revenues totaled $9.4 billion compared to $8.15 billion a year earlier. Out of the units: Universal Music Group saw a 2.4 percent decline in revenues, while Vivendi Games saw the largest revenue drop, at 11.2 percent.

Blockbuster’s Digital Kiosks and Movielink Plans; August Launch — Blockbuster, which recently abandoned its foolish quest to buy Circuit City, is now on to the next thing, which it has been talking about for the last year: its digital re-invention. The company has a strong presence at Comic-Con going on this week in San Diego, and is also demo-ing its digital kiosks, reports Home Media magazine. It has talked about these kiosks before…they are being tested in select Blockbuster stores in the Dallas area, and plans are to roll it out country-wide in the next three years. These kiosks allow consumers to download movies to portable devices in less than two minutes, though for now, it only works on Archos portable media devices.

Moneysupermarket Rebuffs Ontario Teachers — Moneysupermarket.com, a publicly-traded price comparison website based in Britain, has rejected a preliminary buyout approach from Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. Moneysupermarket shares rose 22% yesterday, to increase the company’s market cap to £419 million.