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Alphabet separates car unit; Prime Video hits 200 countries, territories

Top News

* As expected, Alphabet Inc.'s self-driving car project is now a new business, called Waymo, according to an official blog post. The entity described itself as a self-driving technology company that will work to become more useful in personal vehicles, ridesharing, logistics, or for public transport.

* Amazon.com Inc.'s Prime Video service is now available in more than 200 countries and territories. Prime Video can be accessed at no additional cost by Prime members in Belgium, Canada, France, Italy and Spain and by customers in new Prime Video territories at $2.99 per month for the first six months, according to a company news release.

As part of its India launch, Amazon Prime Video has started producing at least nine new Indian original shows, in addition to offering its subscribers a large selection of newly released Bollywood and regional Indian blockbusters, Hollywood movies and U.S. television shows. Prime members in India can access unlimited streaming video, ad-free and on-demand, at no additional cost to their 499 Indian rupees, or nearly $7.39, annual Prime membership, the company said.

Technology

* Facebook Inc.'s virtual reality unit Oculus has split into two groups: PC and mobile. Also, Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe is stepping down from his position to lead the PC VR group, while Jon Thomason will head the mobile VR group, according to an official blog post.

* Apple Inc. will begin shipping its new wireless AirPods, as well as make them available at Apple Stores and other outlets, from the week of Dec. 19. The tech giant started accepting online orders for the AirPods from Dec. 13, the company said.

Internet & OTT

* Walt Disney Co. is holding talks with other studios in a bid to secure more content for its Disney Movies Anywhere service, Bloomberg News reports, citing sources with knowledge of the matter. The service, which allows users to buy, watch and store movies on a website, currently offers films produced by Disney and its other brands such as Pixar, Marvel Entertainment Inc. and Lucasfilm Ltd.

* Google Inc. published eight National Security Letters as part of its efforts to be more transparent to the public about the requests it receives from the government for user data. According to an official blog post, the company said the disclosure came after it pursued "litigation and legislation" to seek permission to publish such information.

* Hulu LLC struck a deal to add all episodes of drama series "National Treasure" to its video service. The first season of the series will start streaming on Hulu in the U.S. as a Hulu Original on March 1, 2017, the company said.

Advertising

* Harte-Hanks Inc. CFO and Executive Vice President Doug Shepard resigned from his post, effective Dec. 31, to pursue another opportunity. Robert Munden, the company's general counsel and executive vice president, will become interim CFO during the search for a permanent replacement, with Scott Hamilton set to coordinate the investor relations program, the company said.

The day ahead

Early morning futures indicators pointed to a mixed opening for the U.S. market.

In Asia, the Hang Seng was up 0.04% to 22,456.62. The Nikkei 225 rose 0.02% to 19,253.61.

In Europe as of midday, the FTSE 100 dropped 0.13% to 6,959.43, and the Euronext 100 fell 0.55% to 916.61.

On the macro front

The producer price index for final demand, the retail sales report, the industrial production report, the business inventories report, the EIA petroleum status report, the FOMC meeting announcement and the FOMC forecasts are due out today. The Fed chair press conference will also be held today.

Featured news

M&A Replay: Asia-Pacific deals through Dec. 9: Aixtron, News Corp., KDDI: S&P Global Market Intelligence provides a biweekly wrap-up of Asia-Pacific media and communications deal announcements, completions and updates from Nov. 27 to Dec. 9.

The Daily Dose Asia-Pacific: Axiata sells tower unit stakes for US$600M; Android Pay arrives in Japan: Malaysia's Axiata Group Berhad struck a US$600 million deal with two Asian investors for shares in its telecom infrastructure services unit edotco, while Android Pay launched in Japan via a partnership with local e-commerce firm Rakuten Inc.

CAPITAL Letters: A cable TV outlook from Wells Fargo Securities: High-yield investors offer a unique perspective on suspect sectors such as cable TV in which equity market pundits may harbor a more negative bias due to escalating broadband and mobile competition.

Capitol Connection: Media ownership reform: Caught between an FCC rock and a judicial hard place: With the prospect of a Republican-controlled FCC in 2017, many believe the political climate will soon favor reform of the FCC's media ownership rules. But writing new rules that can pass court muster may remain a challenge.

The week in OTT: Hulu unveils user profiles; Apple seeks newly released films: Hulu introduced profiles for its subscribers, while Apple is in talks with Hollywood studios about getting earlier access to movies for its iTunes platform.

The Daily Dose Europe: Vivendi further ups Mediaset stake; Orange in talks to buy Canal Plus: Vivendi SA has increased its stake in Mediaset SpA to 12.32%, while Orange SA is now in talks with Vivendi for Canal Plus deal.

Featured research

Consumer Insights: Nearly half of US internet adults are TV binge viewers: Results from U.S. Consumer Insights surveys conducted over the past several years indicate that TV binge viewing has become common practice for many Americans, especially millennials.

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