Archive for GE

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 21, 2008 by Dave Liu

Microsoft Considers Debt Offering — Microsoft is considering selling bonds for the first time in its history, Bloomberg reports, a curious move considering the software giant’s $20 billion cash hoard. An SEC filing noted that the company is now free to issue debt at any time. What does Microsoft need to raise capital for? Silicon Alley Insider reminds us that the software giant sought to at least partially pay for a Yahoo acquisition by issuing debt. Of course, that deal fell apart, leaving no obvious reason as to why the company would continue with the registration process. Is Microsoft preparing another bid for Yahoo? Not if you’ve been listening to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer recently. Maybe Microsoft wants to buy Salesforce.com or Facebook, or maybe both? SAI thinks the company is most likely preparing a massive stock repurchasing program. At $17.53 per share, or 9 times trailing earnings, Microsoft thinks its stock is undervalued. Brad Lutz, vice president of investment research at Declaration Management & Research LLC, says a bond offering from Microsoft would be in high demand among investors, who are anxious to find sound investments outside the realm of finance. “Non-financials have generally received a warm reception by the investment-grade capital markets,” Lutz said. “There’s certainly demand for higher-quality issuers.”

Vivendi CEO: No Decision Yet On Whether To Sell Stake In NBCU; GE’s Immelt: ‘Would Buy In Heartbeat’ — Vivendi SA has yet to decide whether it will keep its 20 percent stake in NBC Universal or exercise its annual option to sell, CEO Jean-Bernard Levy told analysts at a Morgan Stanley conference in Barcelona today. According to Bloomberg, Levy said: “Right now, considering the general expectations for the value of the assets, the dividend flow we get from NBCU is very good. … We will have to make a decision to optimize the proceeds that we get from NBC Universal (NYSE: GE). We will probably find a better allocation of assets at the right time, in the right environment.’’ This may not be the time given NBCU’s decent performance in a rough environment but he left the window wide open: “We will have to make the decision in the next two to three weeks, so you will hear about it shortly.’’ The deadline is in early December. Vivendi has an annual option through 2016 to call for an IPO to sell the stake; GE has the right to pre-empt that by buying it. Immelt told Bloomberg earlier this week that GE would do just that: “They have been a terrific partner. I’m not anxious to do it because they have been a good partner, but I would do it in a heartbeat.’’

Yahoo Remains In Talks With Time Warner About Buying AOL — Yahoo, the Sunnyvale, California Internet company, remains in talks about buying Time Warner’s (NYSE:TWX) AOL unit, reported the Boston Globe. The report, citing a newswire, reported people familiar with the matter said executives from both companies have met in the past few weeks and are negotiating over a deal. Time Warner would give Yahoo AOL’s advertising business in exchange for a stake in the combined company, according to the report. The report noted that differences between both sides still exist. Yahoo has a market capitalization of USD 12.4bn. Source: mergermarket.

Q3 Online Ad Revs Rise 11 Percent—Less Than Half Q307 Growth Rate: IAB — Considering the economic meltdown of the past few weeks, the fact that online ad revenues grew 11 percent in Q3 would seem to be reason to celebrate. But comparing the latest figures from the Interactive Advertising Bureau to its Q307 report shows how much growth has slowed. While online ad spending approached $5.9 billion this past quarter, in Q307, when the IAB said revenues hit $5.2 billion, it had gained 25.3 percent over the prior year. Although online ad dollars had already been slowing last year consider the difference from Q306, when web-based advertising was up 33 percent. Flat revenues: Compared to the other two quarters this year, online ad spending is dead flat, said the report, which the IAB partnered with PriceWaterhouseCoopers on. For example, in Q2, online ad dollars climbed 12.8 percent. Looking at the first nine months of the year at least, revenues totaled $17.3 billion, up from $15.2 billion in the same period a year ago, for a 13.8 percent gain. Again, for the sake of perspective, in Q307, the IAB reported that the first nine months of the year grew 26 percent year-over-year.

Google Unveils Search Personalization Tools — Google on Thursday unveiled new personalization tools that allow users to re-rank and edit search results. The SearchWiki tools let anyone logged into a Google account move results up or down, delete them entirely, or add personal notes through markers that appear next to each entry. The changes do not affect anyone else’s search experience, although users can click a separate link to see a view that reflects changes made by other SearchWiki users. Marissa Mayer, Google’s VP of search products and user experience, tells The Wall Street Journal that the tools are particularly useful for searches that users do repeatedly. Someone who frequently searches for medical reference materials, for example, would be able to eliminate results they haven’t found useful in the past.

As Economy Slows, Facebook Hits The Accelerator — As the economic outlook worsens, most Silicon Valley tech startups are cutting costs, but not Facebook, says BusinessWeek. The social networking giant is pressing ahead with aggressive plans for growth. As Facebook investor and board member Peter Thiel says, “This is not the time for tech companies to be cutting back; this is the time to be hitting the accelerator.” What does that mean, exactly? According to the report, Facebook will continue to go to great lengths to keep user growth high in tough times. This means hiring aggressively, hitting the M&A trail (possibly), and continuing to roll out new ad platforms. Despite the site’s growing development costs, engineers are working on versions in languages like Xhosa, Tagalong and French Canadian to corner niche audiences. “We’re in this game not just for five or 10 years,” says Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer. “We’re in it for 20 to 30 years.”

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 17, 2008 by Dave Liu

Despite Industry Gloom, AOL Takes Its Ad Sales Pitch On The Road — Despite all its bad news lately, AOL (NYSE: TWX) can point to at least some revenue gains tied to its traffic jump. The company’s Q3 was mixed at best: profit dropped 7 percent to $400 million and display ad revenue fell 15 percent to $181 million; meanwhile, it had 12 percent gains in paid search. Later tonight, AOL, led by CEO Randy Falco and Lynda Clarizio, head of Platform-A, will gather 400 ad and media execs to kick off a “traveling upfront presentation” it’s calling the AOL Roadshow at the American Museum of Natural History. Bill Wilson, EVP of AOL Programming, demoed his presentation for me Friday; he’ll be trumpeting the company’s traffic numbers (one favorite of his: 21 months of consecutive year-over-year unique visitor growth for a current total of 56 million uniques). More important, he will also try to convince the industry that AOL is actually delivering on those traffic gains. Although total ad revenues were down 6 percent to $500 million in Q3, Wilson will highlight the news that the vertical content network of sites were up “solid double digits in Q3”—but no specific figures.

WSJ.com’s Third Super-Premium Tier Coming? — Murdoch’s love for newspapers is undying, nevermind the near-death throes of the medium itself, and he reads it out (literally, on the radio) as part of a series of Australian radio lectures titled, “The future of newspapers: moving beyond dead trees.” Compare and contrast this to his famous speech on April 13, 2005, to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, which shook the newspaper industry then for its forward thinking about the digital future of newspapers. And this was before he bought MySpace (three months later) and later in 2007 bought Dow Jones.

GE’s Immelt: ‘Some Opportunities In Media Consolidation’ — Jeffrey Immelt’s latest tack to convince people that NBC Universal (NYSE: GE) parent General Electric is staying in the media business—talk about buying more media assets. The GE chairman and CEO told the FT “There are going to be some opportunities in media consolidation, in infrastructure, oil and gas, aviation. And my hope is that we can play in some of those as time goes on.” Those who may need convincing include Vivendi (EPA: VIV), which owns 20 percent of NBCU. As FT points, it’s time for the annual guessing game over whether Vivendi will exercise its put option for GE to buy that stake and whether GE would sell NBCU to avoid further investment. GE acquired the majority of NBCU in a $14 billion deal in 2004. But much has changed at GE since the last time this question came up, including the company’s structure and NBCU’s designation as one of five operating units. Vivendi’s put option runs through 2016 and is based on market value; starting 2011, GE has an annual window with call rights through 2017 with a floor price of $8.3 billion that will increase based on the Consumer Price Index.

AOL Cutting Off Uncut Video Service; More Squeeze On Third-Party Vendors? — AOL (NYSE: TWX), as part of its efforts to trim the non-core and no-revenue-generating parts of its portfolio, is closing down the AOL Uncut online user-gen video service, after 2.5 years of trying to compete in the space. The service, started in May 2006, was powered by Videoegg, which has since moved on to become an online video-advertising network. According to a memo/FAQ to be sent out next week, obtained by Techcrunch, the service will close on Dec 18, and users will have to transfer video off the service before then. It is recommending that users transfer videos to Motionbox, the white-label video-upload service.

Discovery To Invest Up To $100 Million in Oprah Network; Has Spent $7 Million Till Now — The high-profile launch of “OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network” in late 2009 has attracted its own share of speculation since the announcement in January earlier this year, including executives, programming choices and finances. The company has already names Robin Schwartz as president, Maria Grasso as SVP of programming, Robert Tercek as president of digital media, among others. But no other details on the finances have been revealed till now.

UMG Digital Sales Up 33 Percent, New Streams Offset Dropoff In CD Sales — Universal Music Group predicted a turnaround, and maybe it’s coming to pass… UMG posted EUR 3.14 billion ($3.97 billion) revenue in the first nine months of 2008 –that’s up 3.5 percent if you rule out currency fluctuations. True, in actual currency, it’s down 3.8 percent, but even that’s better than the kind of chronic results some of the majors have become used to. It’s not that CDs are enjoying a revival… the hike came thanks to growth in music publishing and merchandising after UMG bought BMG Music Publishing and Sanctuary, from increased licensing income via the growing number of music-using services, and from a 33 percent increase in digital sales. All of which ”more than offset lower physical sales, according to parent group Vivendi’s earnings. Earnings before the deduction of interest, tax and amortization expenses were up 21.8 percent to EUR 408 million ($516 million) but were actually dragged down by various restructuring costs. Duffy was a big seller for the label.

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2008 by Dave Liu

Google, Yahoo In Talks To Fend Off Antitrust Action: Report — Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) are in talks with the Justice Department over their proposed ad deal, in an effort to head off an antitrust challenge, reports WSJ, citing sources. While the regulatory investigators are building their case to block this deal, settlement talks are also in an early stage. The drumbeat against the deal has been steadily growing louder over the last month or so, as rival companies and associations have come out against the search ad deal. In settlement talks, the two companies are considering some concessions, including lowering the volume of queries on Yahoo on which Google’s ads would be shown, and that Yahoo would continue to be a search ad player and not abandon it. Also, a reporting mechanism that would ensure compliance (and also monitor ad pricing) is also being considered, the story says.

NBCU Local Sites Look Beyond TV — NBC Universal (NYSE: GE) is widening the purview of its local TV stations’ sites, even as it tries to downplay the sites’ identities as broadcast extensions. The sites, which are being relaunched around station sites in nine cites, are being encouraged to develop their individuality and not have a uniform look and feel. And to achieve that, the sites will go beyond the 6- and 11 p.m. newscasts to begin aggregating content from outside bloggers and news sites. From an ad standpoint, John Wallace, president of NBC Local Media, said that this is all an effort to attract a more narrow group of “influencers” to the sites. The announcement is seen as part of a gradual move to establish the TV station sites as hyperlocal hubs in cities such as LA, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Washington DC, and New York.

Joost Launches Flash Version For Browsers: Easier But No Hulu — Online video site Joost is finally, officially easier to use. The Flash-based, download-free version for browsers can be accessed now but the full-featured version is supposed to launch at midnight. Joost boasts of having the “largest online library of legal video programming.” The company says it has doubled the number of videos in the past 10 months to more than 46,000 with a 50 percent increase in hours for a total of more than 8,000 hours. Content partners include investors CBS (NYSE: CBS) and Viacom; Sony (NYSE: SNE) Pictures Television; Warner Bros. Television Group; the NBA; PBS and a number of international providers.

Yahoo Faces Another Seach Ad Challenger: YouTube — While the search ad pact between Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) has been placed on hold until the Department of Justice determines whether to block it or not, YouTube has quietly moved into the number two search ad driver—a spot Yahoo had held since the rise of Google, according to comScore figures. AdAge shows how Google hopes that its latest strategy to prompt YouTube into an important revenue driver involves taking a page from its own successful formula. The move comes on the heels of YouTube’s other recent ad plans, including adding affiliate sales links to its videos.

Nielsen Online Launches Chinese Venture — Nielsen Online has formed a joint venture with the parent of ChinaRank, which publishes Web site rankings in China, to track Internet use in the country. The new venture, CR-Nielsen, will be the first company to provide standard Internet measures such as traffic figures in China. “With more than 250 million Internet users, China represents a significant opportunity for our clients, and there has been a loud call to support this expanding market with high-quality, independent online measurement services,” said Itzhak Fisher, executive chairman of Nielsen Online, in a statement.

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2008 by Dave Liu

Newspapers Cope With Ad Slowdown: Hold Back On Inventory And Ad Nets — The NYT weighs in on newspapers’ struggles amid the online ad slowdown and surveys a number of different strategies being employed. McClatchy, for one, says they are decidedly reducing the number of online ad units in invetory. “It is a case where yeah, you could probably sell another advertiser by creating another ad space,” but that would tend to depress overall revenue, says Christian Hendricks, VP for interactive media at McClatchy. The publisher’s Q2 internet revs climbed 12.5 percent, which represents about 11.8 percent of its total ad revs from that period.

MySpace Expands Self-Serve MyAds Display Ad Service — MySpace’s hyping up its expanded self-serve ad service like the second coming of, well, Google AdWords. After being in test for almost a year, the company is launching its MySpace MyAds product in open beta tonight. The social network has been using what it calls hypertargeting to allow its brand advertisers capability to micro-target users with ads. But this expanded MyAds platform will allow anyone to create an account, choose from among 1100 niche categories, upload/choose creatives and start an ad campaign, targeting the 76 million U.S. MySpace users. This is a display ad system, unlike Google’s text based ad system (at least on its own site), but like Google and others, is a CPC system. Also, like Google, it has build an analytics tool for the self-serve users…from the screenshot I saw, it does look a lot like Google Analytics. It hypertargeting service allows advertisers to target ads based on the interest that MySpace users display on their profile pages. The new MyAds service allows targeting parameters such as age, sex, geographical location, combining it with user interest categories including specific keywords within each category. For example, within the ‘videogame’ enthusiast category, a further targeting keyword or phrase might include ‘Call of Duty 5’ if relevant to an advertiser’s campaign, the company explains.

Small Yahoo Investor Asks MSFT To Rebid At $22; Asking For Asia Spinoff; Shares Below $12 — At the rate it is going, $15 per share might sound enticing to Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) after a while. A small Yahoo investor Mithras Capital has put out a proposal asking MSFT to rebid for the company at $22 a share, reports Reuters. As part of a proposed deal, Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) would unload Yahoo’s Asian assets and non-search businesses, extract $3 billion worth of cost savings and receive $2.8 billion of tax benefits, which means MSFT will pay $10.3 billion for Yahoo’s search business (about $2 billion less than it was willing to pay earlier in the summer for search portion). It also calls for Yahoo to drop its poison pill, while valuing Yahoo’s Asian assets at $7.2 billion and its non-search business at $4.5 billion. Earlier this year Mithras backed Carl Icahn’s stake in the company. Yahoo’s shares hit a five year low yesterday, and today is down about 2 percent today to trade below $13. The Yahoo-Google (NSDQ: GOOG) ad deal is certainly going to be mired in regulatory issues in a while, and any Yahoo-AOL (NYSE: TWX) combination would also face somewhat similar regulatory issues.

Earnings: GE Q3 Earnings Meet Lowered Expectations; NBCU Profit Up 10 Percent — Late last month, General Electric chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt lowered the company’s Q3 guidance dramatically and today it met those expectations. We’ll see if the inoculation—and the subsequent infusion from Warren Buffett—helped when the market opens. In the meantime, a quick look at the results: Earnings from continuing operations dropped 12 percent to $4.5 billion from $5.1 billion on Q307, with a corresponding 10 percent decrease in earnings per share to 45 cents from 50 cents. (Including all operations, earning dropped 22 percent.) Revenues from continuing operations were $47.2 billion, up 11 percent over $42.5 billion in the same quarter last year. Growth in infrastructure and media were countered by a sharp decline in financial services.

RBI Sale At Risk Of Falling Through As Bidding Price Drops To $1.7 billion — Reed Elsevier’s troubled attempt to sell-off its UK B2B division Reed Business Information appears to be in big trouble with the news that bids for the company since August have fallen about a half-million dollars, according to Bloomberg. Two unidentified sources close to the deal told the news service the bids have dropped to about $1.7 billion (£97 million) from $2.3 billion (£1.3 billion). The company has struggled to attract the financing needed to seal the deal since the sale was announced in February. Merrill Lynch analyst Paul Sullivan said in a note that the risk of the sale “being delayed or falling through has clearly increased”. The markets were unimpressed and shares in Reed Elsevier dipped 6.4 percent to 468.25 pence at 1.34pm in London trading today, its lowest value since February 2004.

Time CEO Anne Moore Rules Out IPC Media Sale; Announces Two-Year Plan to Counter Downturn — She might run the biggest magazine company in the world in a time of falling advertising revenue and dwindling sales, but Time Inc’s (NYSE:TWX) CEO and Chairman Anne Moore doesn’t sound too concerned. She tells The Times of a two-year strategy to get her company, owner of consumer UK magazine publisher IPC Media, through the downturn—which will look to address its nine percent Q208 drop in ad revenue. Digital revenues grew 73 percent in 2007 and now make up 15 percent of the group’s total ad revenue. Moore considers Time not a magazine publisher but a “content company” But as The Times’s Dan Sabbagh writes: “Nevertheless, print magazine advertising is heading south this year, and digital growth in 2008 will miss the previous 53 per cent target”.

Economic Meltdown Strikes Viacom, CBS Corp.; Both Warn Investors On Lowered Outlook — It looks to be a brutal Q3 reporting season: Both Viacom (NYSE: VIA) and CBS (NYSE: CBS) Corp have cut their respective outlooks, warning investors that they have been taking a hit on the ad slowdown and the wider economic pain touching all businesses right now. Reuters: Viacom’s Q3 earnings will come in at least 10 percent short of Wall Street estimates. The company pinned the decline on the worsening ad revenue picture. That news quickly shot Viacom’s stock down 20 percent. Viacom Chief Executive Officer Philippe Dauman issued a statement saying the media giant, which owns MTV Networks and Paramount, was “moderating our near-term targets” in light of the dismal economy. In its Q2 earnings report, Viacom pointed to both retail and automotives categories as the reason for lower than expected revenues at its cable TV properties. While they held back on strong prediction for Q3, it’s clear they couldn’t foresee how bad things have gotten. Neither have financial analysts, who keep revising their forecasts downward. In a statement, the company is forecasting a 2 percent drop in global ad revenues, with a decrease of roughly 3 percent in the U.S. and an 8 percent gain internationally. The company will release its full Q3 results on Nov. 3.

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 2, 2008 by Dave Liu

Will GE’s Buffett Cash Quell NBC Sale Talks? — In case you haven’t been following it, shares of GE have been taking it bad lately. On one side, you have the industrial division, highly exposed to a slowing economy and any difficulty among customers in financing big purchases. The other side is finance, and everyone fears it’s sitting on a hand grenade. In a bid to stem the decline and reassure the markets, the company took a $3 billion investmemt from Warren Buffett, in part to raise cash, and in part to say “Look, The Oracle trusts us!” It also announced a $12 billion common stock offering—diluting current shareholders, but giving it an injection of much-desired cash. So where does this leave its 80 percent-owned NBCU unit, which fits awkwardly between the industrial and finance sides. Besides the fact that GE executives are pretty consistent about not wanting to sell it, the fresh capital raise diminishes the need to move the unit. Beyond that, you have to wonder who would be the buyer here. A year ago, it was estimated that the business could be worth around $40 billion, but it’s probably declined a bit since then, given the diminished valuations among its peers.

Msnbc.com Offers Self-Service Via AdReady — Msnbc.com is jumping on the self-service online display ad bandwagon via a partnership with AdReady. The news Web site is in good company, joining a slew of others that are now offering the DIY option including Yahoo, The New York Times, MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, NaturalPath Media, Zillow and Trulia. AdReady, the Seattle-based technology company which powers the ad platform, also works with Yahoo and the Times.

Signs Of Life For Sling’s Video Portal, Other Services; Sling.com Starts Limited Beta — Nearly two years after Sling Media announced it had a video portal and the Clip+Sling video sharing in development, the services are finally nearing release. First up, a private beta of the Sling.com video portal started today, although not private enough since TechCrunch has the invite. At the core, it’s SlingPlayer for Slingbox customers built into the site along with content from over 60 partners. It’s not part of the beta yet, as SlingPlayer 2.0 doesn’t currently incorporate it, but Clip+Sling is coming too, according to Sling’s Brian Jaquet. Clip+Sling allows users to record and share video via the portal. Next up: SlingCatcher, announced last year, ships later this month; it allows TV to be shown room-to-room and brings online content—including the premium content from Sling.com—to TV.

Reed’s RBI Sell-Off In The Balance? A Victim Of Credit Crunch? — When Reed Elsevier last spoke on the subject, it told the market it hoped to sell off its Reed Business Information (RBI) B2B publishing unit as early as October. But that was August – in the intervening period, a little thing has happened called “the credit crunch”. Could the crunch munch the planned divestment, which Reed announced a whole seven months ago? paidContent:UK has been told Reed is finding it much harder to sell the Variety and New Scientist publisher than it was even three weeks ago. Not even a $1.6 billion “sweetener” loan offered to potential bidders is helping much. There’s now some question over whether the sell-off will go ahead at all, we understand.

On Second Take, Take-Two Decides To Remain Independent — Not that this wasn’t expected after last month, but Take-Two, after fighting off an unsolicited bid by EA and talking to other potential suitors, has decided to stay independent, or at least it has completed a formal strategic review for now. The publisher of Grand Theft Auto said its sees itself as “strongly positioned creatively, financially and competitively to benefit from the opportunities we see in the fastest growing segment of the entertainment industry”. According to Ben Feder, the CEO, consider the cash position of the company strong: “Our strong cash position – with no debt and an undrawn USD140 million credit facility – gives us the financial flexibility to continue to do what we do best: innovate and create the great games that our customers have come to expect.”

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , on August 4, 2008 by Dave Liu

Microsoft Reveals Post-Windows Plan — Microsoft has kicked off a research project to create software that will take over when it retires Windows. Called Midori, the cut-down operating system is radically different to Microsoft’s older programs. It is centred on the internet and does away with the dependencies that tie Windows to a single PC. It is seen as Microsoft’s answer to rivals’ use of “virtualisation” as a way to solve many of the problems of modern-day computing.

Yahoo Vote Reveals 85% Back CEO Yang And 76% Support Current Directors As Chairman Defends Stance On Microsoft — Yahoo’s shareholders have demonstrated their support for the California-based internet company yesterday at its AGM, The Times reported. The report from the meeting, said shareholders controlling 85% of shares voted to support chief executive Jerry Yang while 76% backed the current slate of nine directors. The item quoted Roy Bostock, chairman, who defended himself against allegations he mishandled a USD 47bn takeover proposal earlier this year from the software giant Microsoft. Bostock said the Yahoo board had always been open to doing a deal, had actively engaged with Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft and had never resisted the idea of the proposed transaction. He added that shareholder value had been discussed at every meeting between the two sides. He went on to say that Microsoft had not formally presented Yahoo with the prospect of an increased offer, although a slightly revised bid was mentioned verbally in a casual way. He added that he did not have any idea why Microsoft ultimately walked away from the negotiations, the item reported. It said he also believed Microsoft had never fully engaged with Yahoo when it requested deeper talks on a potential alliance.

GE: No Plans To Sell NBC Universal — General Electric Co (GE.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) has no plans to sell its NBC Universal media unit and is on track to double its China annual revenue to $10 billion by 2010, a top executive said on Monday. Some investors have said they would like Chief Executive Jeff Immelt to consider selling NBC after the Olympics because it is growing more slowly than GE’s infrastructure businesses. NBC, which is 80 percent-owned by GE, is broadcasting the August 8-24 Games in the United States. France’s Vivendi (VIV.PA: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) holds the remaining 20 percent of the media company. GE has generated $1.7 billion of total revenues from Olympics-related business, of which $1 billion is from advertisements for NBC and $700 million from other GE divisions, she said. Her predecessor, Daniel Henson, said in July 2007 that GE expected $500-$600 million worth of revenue from the Olympics. GE generated $150 million of the extra business by dangling the Beijing Games as an incentive for its sales teams, Comstock added.

AOL Relaunches Video Site — AOL is relaunching its AOL Video portal today with new features and increased integration into the Web giant’s varying programming sites. Timed to the second anniversary of the original launch, the newly redesigned site provides access to over 200 million videos and a new feature to assist in finding relevant clips, as well as new advertising capabilities.

AOL’s Dial-Up and Portal Split Done; Cue Up the Candidates — Time Warner has completed the financial work necessary to split AOL’s business into two: one its fast-declining dial-up business, and the other one is a mix of its portal and advertising businesses. The process was started earlier this year, and was delayed by about a month, but will now be announced this Wednesday along with TW’s Q208 earnings, reports WSJ. The company has indicated it wants to sell off the dial-up part, and EarthLink indicated last week it wants to buy it. As for the portal-ad side of the business, with the Yahoo-Microsoft possibilities diminished, AOL (NYSE: TWX) is a target for both the companies.

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 28, 2008 by Dave Liu

Yahoo Not Only Shutting Music Store, But Orphaning DRM Buyers — We knew Yahoo Music was shutting down but not that it was planning to take down its DRM servers at the same time. Ars Technica reports that Yahoo has notified customers the license servers will shut down Sept. 30. Yahoo had already said its music subscribers would be migrated to Rhapsody. Microsoft eventually took another approach when it stopped MSN Music, promising after a fuss that the DRM-protected music will work through 2011. What does this mean? Unlike subscription music users, who are leasing music and have no reason to expect it will be available after a service closes, buyers of DRM-protected music think they have acquired the rights in perpetuity.

NBCU Unscathed (So Far) In GE Slimdown — NBC Universal will be one of four “segments” in the slimmed-down General Electric announced today after the market closed today. CEO Jeff Immelt, under fire for the company’s poor stock performance during his tenure, is downsizing from six to four “core” segments, creating “infrastructure” businesses for technology and energy and consolidating all financial services into GE Capital. GE already had announced a possible Consumer & Industrial spin-off. As for NBCU, it puts the “media” in Immelt’s definition of GE as “a global infrastructure, finance and media company.” From the release: “Led by Jeff Zucker this segment is unchanged and will continue to focus on its strategic evolution through globalization and diversification.”

Netflix Q2 Revs Up 11 Percent; Beats On EPS; Ups FY Guidance; Stock Jumps — Netflix reported Q2 revenue of $337.6 million, an 11 percent increase from $303.7 million a year ago. Net income was up just 3 percent to $26.6 million. A significant reduction in shares outstanding, however, meant that EPS rose 13.5 percent to $.42 per share from $.37 per share. That surpassed analyst estimates of $.40 per share, and the company raised its full year outlook slightly. Total subscribers now stand at 8.4 million, a 25 percent year-over-year gain. Net subscriber adds for the quarter were 168,000, compared to a decline of 55,000 a year ago.

Clear Channel And Katz Launch Big Online Network — Clear Channel Radio and Katz Media Group are launching what they say is the largest online radio advertising network ever, the companies revealed today. The new Katz Online Network will combine over 1,200 Clear Channel stations and Katz affiliates with a number of independent online radio stations, with a total unique audience of about 5 million listeners per week.

Ex-Google Execs Debut ‘Cuil’ Search Engine — Several ex-Google engineers will unveil a new search engine today, according to The Associated Press. Cuil, pronounced “cool,” is backed by $33 million in venture capital and is the brainchild of Anna Patterson, her husband, Tom Costello, and two other former Google engineers: Russell Power and Louis Monier. Cuil’s search index spans 120 billion Web pages.

Wayward Microsoft — Let’s not underestimate the significance of the botched Microhoo deal on the future of Microsoft’s business, says Ars Technica contributor Don Reisinger. Microsoft thinks its future is online, but without Yahoo, the software giant has very little to stand on, on the Web. It’s a pitiful third in search advertising, with just a 9% share, and its overall online business operated at a deficit of $1.2 billion this year. Now, how can Microsoft move forward when it’s back to square one? Still, CEO Steve Ballmer pipes on: “There is this huge, huge, huge new opportunity around the Internet and online and we have to embrace that opportunity and invest in that opportunity,” he told analysts and shareholders last week, adding that the company would now invest another $500 million in the company’s online business.