Archive for Time Warner

Articles of the Day

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

News Corp. Stock Moves From NYSE To Nasdaq — With Nasdaq trading higher than the NYSE on Tuesday, News Corp picked a good day to tell its shareholders the stock would begin trading on the tech-heavy exchange. News Corp (NYSE: NWS). which has traded on the NYSE for over 20 years, said that Nasdaq will give its shareholders more up-to-date trading technology. On Nasdaq, News Corp’s Class A common stock will trade under the symbol “NWSA” and its Class B common stock will trade as “NWS.” The transfer will take place on Dec. 29. Nasdaq has been trying to lure other companies from the NYSE, Reuters notes. It recently scored a victory against its rival when regulators ruled that companies moving from the NYSE can keep the same stock symbols on Nasdaq’s exchange.

ESPN Web Overhaul Almost Done; ‘Less Is More’ Design Aimed At Advertisers — ESPN.com’s year-long revamp is finally ready today and set for its formal debut on January 5. Aside from emphasizing video and smarter search, as the company has talked about over the past few months in previews, execs at the Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS) sports unit tell the NYT that the site’s overarching ethos is all about reducing ad clutter. As John Skipper, ESPN’s EVP for content, explains: “If we are frustrating people, they’re not going to spend as much time as we want on the site.” Some of the key changes include: The revamped home page has done away with the big block of 36 links at the top, and reduced it to 19 tabs for Fantasy (a rollover unveils about 16 sub-categories), NFL (which unfolds to offer eight links that take users to the “scoreboard” or “blog network”) and a “More” tab, which has 20 links to areas such as Olympics, poker and cricket news.

Lee Enterprises Faces Possible Default — The crushing debt that was built up over the past few years at newspaper publishers like The Tribune Company and McClatchy (NYSE: MNI), is now weighing heavier on Lee Enterprises (NYSE: LEE), the parent of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. This week, the Davenport, Iowa, publisher said that it faced several potential default triggers on its debt, the WSJ reported. In a statement, Lee said it notified the SEC that it will delay filing its annual report until on or before Dec. 29, because it needs additional time to sort out the amount of non-cash charges it will take to reduce the carrying value of goodwill and “other intangible assets.” Lee expects the impairment charges to total at least $180 million after-tax for the quarter that ended Sept. 28, 2008. Lee’s auditor, KPMG, said it will include an explanation in the company’s annual report of Lee’s “ability to continue as a going concern.”

Microsoft’s Search Guru Brad Goldberg Turns VC — And another one bites the dust. Brad Goldberg, Microsoft’s GM for Live Search, is leaving to head up the online business at Peak6, a Chicago-based investment firm. TechFlash confirmed the news with a Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) exec who said the departure was “amicable.” The company will replace Goldberg with Mike Nichols (who has experience working with online services exec Yusuf Mehdi). Still, Goldberg is leaving on the heels of two other key executive departures: Brian McAndrews, who oversaw a large portion of Microsoft’s online division, and Bill Shaughnessy, who’s resigning as global VP of sales—meaning the company’s online services, overall sales and now search divisions will all be under new management. The changes may be part of a stealthy reorg in the wake of Microsoft’s appointment of Qi Lu as head of digital, as none of these new departures were mentioned in the release that detailed the realignment of several teams.

CBS And Time Warner Considering Joint Olympics Bid — CBS and Time Warner’s Turner Networks are in discussions about making a joint bid for the broadcast rights for 2014 and 2016 Olympic Games, AP confirmed. Both media giants caution that the talks are merely exploratory and no plans have been put in place. NBC Universal (NYSE: GE) has the rights to the 2012 games, having beat Fox and ESPN/ABC with a $2.2 billion bid back in June 2003. NBC has had rights to the games since 1988. Considering the ratings success it had across its broadcast, cable and online, it will likely put up a fight to continue its Olympics run. Still, it’s hard to imagine what shape all the major networks will be in next year, given the likelihood that the economy will remain in a severe recession. The talks between CBS and Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) will likely spur the other parties to examine the prospects of a collaborative deal.

Knight Foundation Gives $390K To Four Local News Sites — At least there’s still some expansion going on these days… Four non-profit hyperlocal news sites are sharing a $390,000 investment from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to build up their reporting staffs. The recipients of Knight’s backing are MinnPost, which received $250k from the Knight fund in August 2007; the three-year-old VoiceofSanDiego.org, which was started by a columnist for the city’s Union-Tribune; the Chi-town Daily News, which has relied on citizen journalists and staff reporters to cover Chicago’s 75 neighborhoods; and St. Louis Beacon, which was covers the city in partnership with its local public TV station. Over the past few years, the Knight Foundation has handed out $100 million to community-minded news outlets.

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , on December 12, 2008 by Dave Liu

Bewkes Takes Over As Time Warner Chairman As Parsons Moves Out — A much-expected move has happened: Richard Parsons, the former CEO of Time Warner (NYSE: TWX), is now stepping down as chairman of the company board, and current CEO Jeff Bewkes will take over, starting Jan. 1 next year. Bewkes took over from Parsons as CEO in January this year. The biggest media company in the world has seen many changes since then: it is spinning off Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC), has merged New Line Cinema and closed Picturehouse and Warner Independent Pictures, and its unit Time Inc recently started layoffs of 600 employees.

EMarketer Lowers Social Networking Forecast, Again — EMarketer on Wednesday revised its social networking outlook to $1.2 billion from $1.4 billion, the second downward revision for the sector by the research company this year. Company execs said the decision to lower spending estimates was driven by the weakened economy and a particularly poor performance by MySpace, one of the giants of social networking. EMarketer’s revenue projection for MySpace fell to $585 million from $755 million in May, while Facebook’s revenue estimate also fell to $210 million from $265 million. Overall MySpace and Facebook account to 70% of social media spending. The research aggregator now expects social media advertising to grow by just 8% next year, totaling $1.3 billion. EMarketer had previously forecast 2009 spending at $1.8 billion.

The New York Times Considers About.com And The Boston Globe Strategic — About.com and The Boston Globe are core to The New York Times Company (NYSE:NYT), CEO Janet Robinson said on the sidelines of an investor conference. Speculation about the New York Times selling off assets to pay down its looming debt load has abounded, with both The Boston Globe and About.com flagged as sale candidates. During the conference, Robinson said the company was reviewing its portfolio. The New York Times, with more than USD 700m in debt, recently borrowed USD 225m against its headquarters to pay long-term debt. About USD 100m in medium-term notes are due late 2009 and a USD 400m revolving credit facility expires in May 2009. Other logical disposals include the company’s regional papers and its classical music radio station, WQXR-FM. But, potential suitors are sparse on the ground, a banker, lawyer and analyst agreed. One logical sale candidate is NYC-based WQXR-FM, a communications lawyer said. The company used to send New York Times-branded news out through the station, but recently has switched to sending out Bloomberg news, the lawyer noted. Finding a buyer could be difficult, but even in tough economic times an FM station based in New York should be worth a “lot of money.” WQXR-FM has little revenue, but The New York Times might not want to be known for getting rid of New York City’s historic classical music station, the banker said. Source: mergermarket.

Display Rose A Meager 7 Percent Through September, TNS Says — Growth trends for display ads have been shrinking since late last year, and through September, the category was up only 7 percent, TNS Media Intelligence data shows. That’s less than half of the 17.2 percent gain TNS recorded last year. As TNS points out, growth rates have shrunk for the past five straight quarters. The TNS numbers obviously don’t tell the whole online-ad-spend story, since its data still excludes paid search. TNS’ release comes after the major ad companies released their latest forecasts, including Magna Global’s Bob Coen, who downgraded his 2008 forecast for U.S. online ad spend to 8 percent growth (5 percent gain expected in ‘09); ZenithOptimedia (which cut its global online spending forecast to 21.2 percent this year) and GroupM (which projected 10 percent global gains for ‘08 and 5 percent in ‘09). ZenithOptimedia remains the most optimistic for global online ad growth, projecting a 21.2 percent rise for the world’s web ad dollars this year and 18 percent next.

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 11, 2008 by Dave Liu

Yahoo Board Receives Letter From Ivory Investment Management Urging Salvage Of Microsoft Deal — Ivory Investment Management LP, one of Yahoo’s largest stockholders with 21.4 million, or 1.5% of the shares outstanding, today proposed in a letter to Yahoo’s Board of Directors that the company salvage a deal with Microsoft “and not miss another value maximization opportunity.” Noting Microsoft’s renewed interest, Ivory proposed that the company sell its search business to Microsoft, with Microsoft becoming the search provider for all Yahoo properties. Under the Ivory proposal, Microsoft would own and operate the combined search platform, with Yahoo becoming an affiliate that retains 80% of the revenue generated through searches on its own site. Finally, Microsoft would become the search engine for Yahoo’s existing search affiliates. We believe a search deal with Microsoft could deliver value to Yahoo shareholders of USD 24-29 per share, or more than double yesterday’s closing price of USD 12.19.” Ivory stated in its letter that it believed Yahoo could “receive more than USD 15bn upfront from Microsoft for its search business and increase EBITDA by more than USD 500m per annum.” “On an after-tax basis, the USD 15bn payment from Microsoft would be USD 9bn for Yahoo shareholders, leaving Yahoo with USD 21.2bn of cash and investments (up from USD 12.2bn today) and annual EBITDA of USD 2.4bn (up from the midpoint of current guidance of USD 1.9bn ). Applying a 5x EBITDA multiple on the “new Yahoo” would result in a value of USD 24 per share. If Yahoo were to go a step further and deploy the USD 9bn in new cash for its own shares at a USD 16 offer price, it could reduce its share count by 40% which would leave the remaining shareholders with a stock approaching USD 30 per share (amazingly close to the original bona fide bid from Microsoft).”

CBS Interactive To Merge CBSNews.com and CNET Newsrooms; Some Layoffs — CBS Interactive, under pressure to cut costs after what now seems like an even more costly acquisition of CNET, is announcing some more restructuring tomorrow, we have learned from reliable sources late tonight, and as part of it, will be merging CBSNews.com and CNET newsrooms. Not clear: if it is merging the two main websites CBSNews.com and News.com. As a result of this merger, there will also be some layoffs, but we couldn’t figure out the extent of those.

Time Warner Cable Split Still On Track For Early 2009 — Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes says the Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) spinoff “is on track to get executed in early 2009. … We don’t see any problems really from any side of the transaction.” That should mean an $11 billion payout for all shareholders is still on the way—including $9 billion for parent Time Warner (NYSE: TWX). It also means a return to a content-centric company. Bewkes is the lunch speaker at the UBS Global Media and Communications conference.

Bewkes On AOL: Will Do Whatever Creates Most Value; Needs To Be ‘Fairly Soon’ — Updated: Looking for clarity when it comes to Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) and AOL? So are we—Time Warner is exploring just about every variation you can imagine when it comes to AOL, based on the exchange CEO Jeff Bewkes just had with UBS moderator Aryeh Bourkoff, who asked the questions in just about every way possible. The short answer: “I’d like to get it resolved, meaning clear… so AOL can be seen and valued… We need to do it fairly soon and we’ve been working hard on it.” And, no, he won’t translate “fairly soon” into a real time frame. Bewkes isn’t complaining about operations and said if AOL were a TV network, “he’d say the ratings are up. ” But, he admitted to investors, ad sales are not up the same way and have been disappointing to us and to you.” AOL’s performance is further hampered by being “essentially in third place” and not a market leader. “Because of that, even though some excellent work is being done on cost cuts, programming and traffic,” AOL’s value is being lost. The questions: what would be the improvement in economics from a combination and would the result be “reasonably as good or better” than TW can do with any other option?

RBI Sale Cancelled; Reed Elsevier Still Wants To Sell It In Medium-Term — The verdict is in and the answer is: no sale. Reed Elsevier (NYSE: RUK) has announced that its torturous, nine-month campaign to sell the B2B magazine division is over. Reed announced to the stock market this afternoon that it has “terminated discussions with potential bidders” and that due to the poor economic outlook, shareholders would get more value by the company hanging on to the Farmers’ Weekly and Variety publisher. RBI now remains separate business and will be run by RBI UK CEO Keith Jones as overall CEO of the company.

Gannett’s ContentOne Ties Local Content With National Ads — It’s a tougher time for newspapers, but Craig Dubow, Gannett’s chairman, president and CEO, has a basic answer for the continued existence of newspapers: consumers will always need content and advertisers will need to reach them. As for why newspapers are the best vehicles for that connection, Dubow turned, interestingly enough, not to print, but to Gannett’s web properties. In particular, Dubow, speaking with two other Gannett (NYSE: GCI) execs at the UBS Global Media and Communications (PDF) conference, touted a forthcoming program called ContentOne, which he said “will completely change the way we share content across the company, especially at the local level. It will be created using the web start-up model.” It should be up sometime in Q1. The idea is “local content on a national level,” and will use the regionally focused sites MomsLikeMe and Metromix as the foundation.

CBS Wouldn’t Buy CNET In This Market; ‘Highly Doubt’ Any Acquisitions — CBS CEO Leslie Moonves raved about the value of the CNET acquisition and the integration since the merger with CBS Interactive, but told investors he wouldn’t make the same deal today. “The CNET deal was in May….Life was very different. We would not be doing that acquisition today.” As for other acquisitions, “I highly doubt you will see us acquiring anything in the near future.”

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 11, 2008 by Dave Liu

Time Warner Warns That AOL May Miss Revenue Targets Due To Ad Slowdown; MySpace Ahead of Target — AOL’s Platform-A, plagued by slowing ad growth, might miss its revenue targets, Bloomberg reports Time Warner CFO John Martin as saying at Merrill Lynch’s investor conference. Up until recently, Martin said, ad revenues were growing like “a weed.” But lately, marketers have been pulling back. He told attendees at the Marina del Rey, Ca., conference: “It gives us pause in terms of our confidence to ramp advertising in the back half of the year.’’ In August, Platform-A forecast that ad revenues would continue to rise through the end of the year. But now the ad slowdown has added to pressures on AOL, which has been dealing with the process of integrating the various ad firms it bought over the past year under Platform-A (NYSE: TWX). As a whole, AOL posted a weak Q2, reporting a 15 percent decline in revenue to $1.05 billion and operating income dropping to $230 million from $350 million, due to a 29 percent decrease related to the the loss of subscription revenue. As for the portal side of AOL, which just unveiled a revamped homepage, it is seen as one way to bring ad growth back.

Google Continues Search Onslaught — Google’s still on top of the search heap, as the giant accounted for just over 70% of all searches in the U.S. in August, according to Hitwise. Yahoo, MSN and Ask.com each received 18%, 5% and 3% of search market share, respectively. Hitwise also found that Google was increasingly driving traffic to social networking and online video sites. For example, social networking sites received almost 11% of their traffic from Google in August, up 44% from a year ago.

Google, Fox Interactive Rank Highest In Video Views — In July, U.S. consumers viewed over 11.4 billion videos for a total duration of 558 million hours, according to new data from comScore Video Metrix. That month, Google sites once again ranked as the top U.S. video property with more than 5 billion videos viewed–representing a 44% share of the online video market–with YouTube accounting for more than 98% of all videos viewed at the property. Fox Interactive Media ranked second, with 446 million videos (representing 3.9%) followed by Microsoft sites with 282 million or 2.5% and Yahoo sites with 269 million (2.4%).

Facebook Braces For Change — Ready or not, Facebook is undergoing a massive redesign. By the end of the week, the social network’s 100 million-plus users will be forced to adapt to a new-look Facebook. For the last seven weeks, the company allowed its users to switch back and forth from the old to the new format. That option is now being taken away. In an interview with The Associated Press, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledges the risks behind the makeover, which include alienating some of its audience. This, in turn, could help drive traffic to rivals like MySpace and Bebo. “Any change can be a big deal to our users because this is how they connect with their family and friends,” Zuckerberg said. “So when you move things around, it can be perceived as being not a positive thing even when it’s a positive change.”

Yahoo Expands Mobile Push — Yahoo on Wednesday launched two new mobile features: a new social communications service for Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch, and an expanded development platform for developers. The first feature, through Yahoo oneConnect, allows users to marry their cell phone contacts lists to friend and follower lists on social networks like MySpace, Facebook, Bebo and Twitter. The application, now available in the Apple App Store, integrates these lists and their functionality, enabling users to communicate via instant messaging, email, SMS or phone. “We want to create and enable a mobile ecosystem for billions of users,” said Marco Boerries, executive vice president of Yahoo’s Connected Life division. “We’re turning everyone that uses voice today into a mobile data user.”

Waterfront Media, Revolution Health Talking Possible Merger With Everyday Health — The Washington Post is out with a story we’ve also been working on—the possibility of an acquisition by Waterfront Media, owner of Everyday Health, of Steve Case’s Revolution Health in the form of a merger the two are the second and third largest health sites respectively. (I’m thinking of coining a new term for deals like this—acqui-merger.) In the past, when I have approached Revolution about the possibility of a sale, I’ve been told the company was not in sales talks. Since the last denial, word surfaced that Revolution’s banker Morgan Stanley was switching to sales or merger mode from raising capital. No response at all from Revolution to my request this time. As for Waterfront, CEO Ben Wolin tells me the company doesn’t comment on speculation but also said there is no deal to discuss and that he wouldn’t talk “for” Revolution.

Digital Media M&A

Posted in Deals, Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 5, 2008 by Dave Liu

Viacom-Owned Paramount Buys Game Developer ScreenLife — Paramount Pictures, the Viacom-owned movie studio, has made its first gaming related acquisition: it has bought Seattle-based game developer ScreenLife, the creator of the popular DVD game “Scene It?”. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but last week SeattlePI first broke the story and mentioned that the deal is “for less than $100 million”. Screenlife will continue to operate as a standalone company, but will report into Paramount Digital Entertainment. Scene was launched in 2002 as a series of video-based trivia games..it has since sold about 15 million titles on the DVD, mobile, VOD and video game platforms. The company has over 25 DVD game titles on the market. Screenlife raised $7 million in angel financing in 2003, and a total of about $10 million.

Online Marketer AdEx Buys Lead Gen Company Bay Harbor Marketing — AdEx Media has bought the lead gen business of Bay Harbor Marketing, LLC, a California limited liability company. The terms were not disclosed. AdEx plans to absorb Bay Harbor Marketing’s software to round out its own affiliate marketing and lead gen business. This is Mountain View, CA.-based AdEx’s second purchase in less than a month. It bought Digital Instructor, a marketer of “how-to” courses on CD, in mid-August.

Gannett Pays Tribune $135 Million To Acquire Majority Stake In CareerBuilder –Gannett (NYSE: GCI) has acquired an additional 10 percent stake in CareerBuilder from the troubled Tribune for $135 million. That gives Gannett a 50.8 percent controlling interest in the online jobs site. Tribune, which has been trying to find ways to turn around its financial and debt woes, now owns 30.8 percent of CareerBuilder. The shared ownership doesn’t affect the other partners in CareerBuilder, which includes The McClatchy Company (NYSE: MNI), which continues to own 14.4 percent; and Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) continues to own 4 percent. Under the new ownership arrangement, Gannett has three seats on the six-seat CareerBuilder board. Tribune and McClatchy have one seat each and CareerBuilder CEO Matt Ferguson has one seat as part of his position. Sam Zell said in a statement that this deal helps “monetize some of the value CareerBuilder has built over the years…while enabling us to maintain a significant stake in a great online property.”

Publicis Looks Westward For Latest Acquisition, Seattle’s PBJS — Although WPP Group and its ad holding company rival Publicis Groupe have been concentrating more in Asia and other emerging markets for their digital acquisitions lately, it seems there are still a few independent targets to be found in the U.S. One of the remaining ones was Seattle’s PBJS, which was just picked up by Publicis. Terms weren’t disclosed. The five-year-old shop concentrates on on “multichannel events” and branded entertainment, including webcasting and video production. The main thing that drew Publicis to PBJS was access to the agency’s biggest client: Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT). That could bring more closeness between Microsoft and Publicis, which is working with the software giant, as well as Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO), Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and AOL (NYSE: TWX) on an open source ad network. The 26-person PBJS will continue to operate independently, though it will exist within Publicis Events Worldwide unit. Founder and CEO Bob Bejan will remain in that role, reporting to John Farrell, President & CEO of SAMS.

Ad Network Traffic Marketplace Buys Click-to-Chat Banner Provider Livemarkets — Online ad net Traffic Marketplace has acquired Livemarkets, a company that lets individuals strike up chat sessions with marketers within banner ads. Terms were not disclosed. The basic proposition behind Livemarkets, which was founded last year, is that consumers will click on an ad to chat with a customer service rep about the product featured in a banner. In one example on the company’s site, a consumer might click on a banner ad for a car to ask about a test drive. The “click-to-chat” function can work within any ad unit, Livemarkets says. As for Los Angeles-based Traffic Marketplace, the company bills itself as a “business-to-audience” ad net. It claims 30 billion ad impressions every month, delivering more than 20 million leads through its targeted display ads.

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , on August 11, 2008 by Dave Liu

Time Warner’s Future: All About Content (Unless It’s From Time Inc or AOL) — Jeff Bewkes has been sitting at the desk where the Time Warner buck stops for seven months now, and beyond the Time Warner Cable spin and the New Line trim we’re not all that much closer to his full vision of the company. It’s really quite simple, though, contends Tim Arango in a sprawling Sunday biz story —it’s all about content. Matching it with distribution no longer counts. Spin TWC, sell off AOL’s access business and possibly AOL itself, and focus on three core content areas: Warner Brothers, Turner Broadcasting and HBO. Or, as Bewkes describes it, “dominating niches with a clear brand strategy.” M&A & NBC: He’s also looking at acquisitions in film and TV, the NYT reports, even considering bidding for NBC Universal (NYSE: GE) should GE decide to sell, “according to executives and bankers who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose details of the discussions.” (Sirius (NSDQ: SIRI) CEO Mel Karmazin tells the NY Post he doesn’t think it’s a good time for GE to sell: “Would there be buyers for NBC? Sure, but I can’t tell you whether or not they’ll pay as much as what it might be worth a year or two from now. And the cash flow it is throwing off may be worth more to GE than selling it, paying the taxes and winding up with 50 percent of what it sold for.”)

Is Google a Content Company? — The familiar and at-times tiresome argument: it Google a content company and is it competing against the very content partners that use its services? This time the culprit is the newly launched Wikipedia-challenger Knol, and the argument is whether Google will give preferential treatment in its search to articles within Knol, vs similar topics from other competing sites. NYT picks up that thread, and does say that there is little evidence that Knol has received favorable treatment in search results till now. Some of the media companies are beginning to embrace Knol, adding their own stories/topics to Knol, but some, like Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (NYSE: MSO), has no intention of building up a competitor. Wenda Harris Millard, the co-CEO of MSLO, said: “You are continuing to build their business if you do that, versus building your own.” According to Jason Calacanis, the CEO of Mahalo, a competition of sorts to Knol, it is possible that with YouTube, Knol, Blogger and other company sites, Google could take 3 of the top 10 results in some searches, thus alienating Web publishers that are Google’s advertising partners, even if there is no indication that Google artificially favored its sites. Of course at this point, very few have a choice not to work with Google…

AOL Unveils Larger Home Page Ad — Offering advertisers more prime online real estate, AOL has launched a new skyscraper unit on its home page nearly double the size of the largest placement the Web portal previously sold on its main page. The Interactive Advertising Bureau-standard (300 x 600) unit dominating the right side of the screen debuts with Samsung Mobile’s Olympics-themed “Medal Mania” campaign, awarding a $100,000 prize to the winner of an online scavenger hunt for virtual gold medals.

Twitter’s Secret Weapon: Audience — How is Twitter able to maintain such a large, loyal audience despite persistent service outages? TechCrunch’s Gregor Hochmuth argues that the mini-blogging service reaches a wide variety of users who would never dream of starting a blog or using an RSS reader. There’s also something about releasing a tweet and knowing your friends will receive it-even if it doesn’t exactly work that way (in actual fact, anyone who wants to can follow you on Twitter, whether that person is your friend or not). But from a user’s perspective, those receiving your messages are people you know, people who care enough to “follow” you. This, Hochmuth says, is the secret to Twitter’s success: The moment you send a message, not only do you have an idea about who’s receiving your message, you also know exactly who’s online and capable of responding to your message instantly.

Cablevision Sale Of Assets Likely To Focus On Rainbow Media Division; JP Morgan And Merrill Lynch Expected To Lead Process — Cablevision’s strategic review is expected to focus on selling its Rainbow Media assets, along with other smaller units, said an industry source claiming familiarity with the situation. The source said no final decision has yet been made, however. “Everything remains on the table absent the sale of the company,” he noted. The industry source went on to say that he would expect Cablevision’s long-time bankers — Bear Stearns media bankers who joined JP Morgan and Merrill Lynch — to lead the process, although no formal mandate has yet been handed out.  The source acknowledged there was speculation material is already circulating regarding the sale of Cablevision assets, but said the speculation is premature as an official process has not been kicked off. On 31 July, during a conference call with investors, Cablevision CEO James Dolan said the media company is exploring options to close the gap between its operating performance and its current market value. Cablevision owns a broad collection of media assets which range from cable properties, to Madison Square Garden and the ownership of the New York Knicks and Rangers, to Radio City Music Hall. The asset of particular focus is Rainbow Media, a collection of cable TV stations and programming units, a shareholder said. This is an asset that can be monetized and not affect the covenants for Cablevision’s outstanding debt, he noted. Also, in a note to clients, Chris Marangi of Gabelli & Company pointed out that the media assets Rainbow owns are receiving attractive valuations in today’s market. Further, Cablevision can likely utilize its USD 1.8bn net operating loss to reduce taxes associated with a Rainbow transaction, he added. Source: mergermarket.

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , on August 7, 2008 by Dave Liu

Google To Take On Baidu’s Music Site — Google, the worldwide leader in search, is taking on Baidu.com, the undisputed No.1 in China, by launching its own music search site — except this one only points users to music that’s legal to distribute. The site, which is only available to Chinese users, points to songs hosted by Top100.cn, a Chinese music site backed by NBA star Yao Ming. It will be ad-supported, with Top100.cn sharing the ad revenue with its music partners. Ars Technica says the move is a direct response to Baidu’s dominance of the music search market. The Chinese search leader has made a name for itself providing deep links to endless quantities of illegal music. Recently, the Music Copyright Society of China and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) questioned Baidu for its MP3 deep-linking policies in lawsuits filed against the search engine for enabling copyright infringement. Three labels represented by the IFPI seek a maximum of $9 million in damages, though the organization claims Baidu could be forced to pay billions in reparations.

AOL Split On Track, But Options Open On Sale Of Access; Prudent Aquisitions — Time Warner is making good progress, says CEO Jeff Bewkes, on curating the proper portfolio of assets. Cable is obviously on track and the deal to spin it fully off should be done by the end of the year. On AOL: “We’ve now made key financial and strategic decisions that will enable us to operate the access and audience.” But it still sounds a tad murky: assets of the company has been divided into three categories: access, audience and something called shared services. TWX will pursue prudent acquisitions, but only ones that provide a meaningful financial return, and one that’s superior to other uses of cash. Given the low share price, it will be difficult to find acquisitions, says Bewkes, that will be superior to just buying back stock. That being said, given all the financial changes the company is undergoing, buybacks are currently on pause. Following the big one-time dividend from TWC? Same. Prudent acquisitions if possible, but expect more cash returned to shareholders.

WebMD Q2 Revs Up 15 Percent; Income Up 25 Percent; Pharma Ads Coming Back?— Health portal WebMD reported revenue of $89.2 million, a 15 percent increase from $77.3 million in the year-ago quarter. Net income from continuing ops of $6.4 million ($.11 per share) were up 25 percent from last year’s $5.1 million ($.09 per share). The company’s core segment, online services, had revenue of $84.6 million, up 16 percent from last year. That was mainly due to 19 percent growth in advertising and sponsorship revenue. Earlier this year the company lowered its outlook for the year due to advertiser hesitance and the business climate, but in the announcement the company simply maintains the forecast. As for the company’s merger with HLTH, it currently expects the deal to close in October.

Bebo Write Down Looms For Time Warner — AOL, which continues to weigh down Time Warner’s stock and may soon be sold, could be forced to write down its recent acquisition of Bebo, says Silicon Alley Insider’s Peter Kafka. In its most recent SEC filing, Time Warner reveals that $760 million of the $857 million it paid for Bebo price was attributable to goodwill, while another $86 million went to “specific amortizable intangible assets.” That leaves $11 million for the actual company. In other words, says Kafka, “there’s almost no there there.” Goodwill represents the premium AOL paid for the social network. It was almost all premium. Now, this may be standard practice in the Internet biz, but sometimes, when the asset doesn’t deliver as promised, the acquirer is forced to come back and tell investors that it paid way too much, then it gets to write down the loss. Time Warner had to do this with AOL in 2003. EBay had to do this with Skype in 2007.

CondéNet Integrates Ad Sales Teams; Staff Reorg Focuses On Verticals, Not Titles –Times are getting a little tougher for online ad revenues. And so with marketers’ demands for one-stop shopping across a company’s sites getting louder, CondéNet has decided to simplify its two ad sales teams into one. Up until now, there was one team handling ads for Style.com, Men.Style.com, and flip.com, and a separate sales team selling Epicurious.com, Concierge.com, NutritionData.com, HotelChatter.com and Jaunted.com. While categories like food, travel, fashion and teen, focus on different subjects, the reasoning is that the broad audience demos they attract make it more worthwhile to explore where visitors to those sites intersect. And so, sales staff will operate according to particular verticals, not titles.