* Verizon Communications Inc. has agreed to sell Tumblr Inc. to WordPress owner Automattic Inc. Tumblr, a social media network that is home to 475 million blogs, was reportedly bought by Automattic for less than $20 million, while another source puts it below $10 million, according to Axios.
* Oregon has agreed to join a multistate lawsuit aimed at blocking the merger of T-Mobile US Inc. and Sprint Corp. It is the 16th state to join the legal challenge. Deutsche Telekom AG CEO Timotheus Höttges recently said the company is willing to engage with state attorneys general to work to resolve outstanding concerns about the merger of its U.S. unit and Sprint.
* A handful of technology companies account for a growing portion of all stock repurchases, a trend analysts say is driven in part by a need to deploy cash and please shareholders amid heightened regulatory scrutiny and market uncertainties. During the second quarter, stock repurchases by five companies — Apple Inc., Oracle Corp., Microsoft Corp., Alphabet Inc. and Intel Corp. — comprised 43.1% of those from all S&P 500 companies with similar business models in the information technology and communications services sectors, according to an analysis by S&P Global Market Intelligence.
* Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. has tapped law firm Sidley Austin LLP to lobby on behalf of the Chinese company in the U.S. on trade sanctions and export control, among other issues, Bloomberg News reports, citing a filing with the U.S. Senate. Sidley Austin is already working on the company's legal challenges in the U.S.
* Satish Menon will resign as Shutterfly Inc.'s senior vice president and chief technology officer, effective Sept. 6. The move comes after Lisa Blackwood-Kapral resigned as vice president and chief accounting officer of the company in July.
* Top U.S. internet service providers saw their services get faster during July, according to Netflix Inc.'s monthly ISP Speed Index. Among larger providers, the index saw Verizon remain the top ISP in the U.S., with its fiber Fios service delivering average speeds of 4.72 Mbps in July, up from 4.45 Mbps in June. Ranking No. 2 among larger players was Charter Communications Inc.'s Spectrum cable broadband service, with speeds of 4.61 Mbps, up from 4.39 Mbps. Comcast Corp. followed Charter, with its speed increasing to 4.61 Mbps, from 4.38 Mbps, while Cox Communications Inc. recorded 4.60 Mbps, up from 4.38 Mbps.
* Grain Management LLC, a private equity firm focused on investments in the global communications sector, agreed to acquire a majority stake in the communications service provider Ritter Communications Inc. Under the agreement, Grain Management will invest in Ritter Communications along with its current owner, E. Ritter & Co. Inc.
TV & Streaming
* Consolidated Communications Holdings Inc. launched a new, cloud-enabled television service called CCiTV in southern Maine. The service will offer content from nearly 200 live local, national and premium channels to its Portland, Augusta and Lewiston service areas.
* AT&T Inc.'s HBO Max and the British Broadcasting Corp.'s BBC Three have commissioned a six-part comedy "Starstruck" from Avalon Television Ltd., according to a news release. HBO Max will become the U.S. broadcast partner for the series.
* Nathan Fielder has signed an overall deal with HBO (US), Variety reports. Under the one-year deal, Fielder will serve as an executive producer on the "How To ... With John Wilson" documentary series, and an untitled comedy pilot in which Fielder will star as well as write and direct.
* Netflix will premiere the third season of "The Crown" on Nov. 17, according to an announcement on the show's Twitter Inc. page. A fourth season of the series is in production, but the streaming giant has not disclosed the premiere date, according to Variety.
* The New York Post plans to introduce a weekly podcast show, "Sources Say: A Page Six Podcast." The News Corp.-owned publication has tapped Cabana as its exclusive ad sales partner for the show, which will be hosted by Regular Page Six editors Maggie Coughlan and Ian Mohr, according to a news release.
* Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei is planning a significant organizational overhaul at the company, Bloomberg News reported. Ren said a reorganization must happen within three to five years so that Huawei can continue to compete. U.S. sanctions threaten Huawei's access to American technology, including chipset components from Qualcomm Inc. and Google LLC's software, according to an internal memo seen by the news outlet.
* CenturyLink Inc. announced a "several-hundred-million dollar" investment to build out and support edge computing services. The investment will go toward creating more than 100 initial edge computing locations across the U.S. and providing a range of hybrid cloud and managed services.
* LucidWorks Inc., a startup that builds artificial intelligence-powered search solutions, has raised $100 million in funding. The latest capital infusion comes from technology-focused private equity fund Francisco Partners Management LP and investment firm TPG Sixth Street Partners.
* Comcast Cable Communications LLC's advertising arm named Joel Armijo senior vice president and CFO of the company. Armijo joins Comcast Advertising from fuboTV Inc., where he was also a CFO.
The day ahead
Early morning futures indicators pointed to a lower opening for the U.S. market.
In Asia, Hang Seng dropped 2.10% to 25,281.30, while the Nikkei 225 shed 1.11 % to 20,455.44.
In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 fell 0.41% to 7,196.72, and the Euronext 100 dropped 0.54% to 1,029.18.
On the macro front
The consumer price index and the Redbook Index for retail sales are due out today.
Click here to read about today's financial markets, setting out the factors driving stocks, bonds and currencies around the world ahead of the New York open.
The Daily Dose Asia-Pacific: ByteDance's search engine; Jio/Microsoft alliance; Huawei's overhaul plans: Beijing Byte Dance Telecommunications Co. Ltd. has rolled out a search engine in China, Reliance Industries Ltd. entered a partnership with Microsoft Corp. to help with the digital transformation in India and Huawei is planning a significant organizational overhaul.
The Daily Dose Europe: French OTT approval; Amazon's Estonia unit; NOW TV on TIM: New subscription streaming service Salto secured approval in France; Amazon.com Inc. has created a data processing unit in Estonia; and Telecom Italia SpA's video-on-demand platform TIMvision has added Sky Ltd.'s NOW TV - Ticket Sport offering.
The Week in OTT: Disney+ bundle price; CBS adds kids content: CBS is continuing to bolster the content roster for its CBS All Access subscription service, while Disney+ will be available along with Hulu and ESPN+ for $12.99 per month.
M&A Replay: Fox Entertainment acquires Bento Box Entertainment; Viacom to buy Garfield: Fox Entertainment Group Inc. acquired Bento Box Entertainment LLC, the animation house behind "Bob's Burgers" and other animated shows on FOX (US), while Viacom Inc. has agreed to acquire comic studio and production company Paws.
M&A Replay: Deutsche Telekom talks T-Mobile, Sprint deal; Axel Springer accepts KKR offer: Deutsche Telekom is willing to engage with state attorneys general who have filed a lawsuit against the merger between its unit T-Mobile US and Sprint, while Sky Studios bought a stake in a U.K.-based producer of natural history content.
5G Focus: Nokia deals; fiber vs. 5G; 5G, edge computing: 5G Focus is a weekly global roundup of notable 5G trials, launches, use cases and major equipment supply contracts. It also features in-depth analysis of strategies, expansion plans, business models and other related initiatives.
Data Dismatch EMEA: For BBC, ITV's new BritBox, diversity may hold key to Netflix challenge: U.K. public service broadcasters are increasingly turning to data to understand how to build out their programming to attract minority viewers. But these efforts are not free of controversy.
Multichannel Trends: HSD takes center stage in 10-year US cable revenue outlook: Residential broadband is in the driver's seat in Kagan's latest cable revenue outlook, with the segment projected to become the sector's largest revenue generator by 2025.
Economics of Networks: Disney focused on balancing value of DTC, linear TV offerings: Walt Disney Co. recently announced its fiscal 2019 third-quarter results, representing the company's first full quarter since it acquired select 21st Century Fox Inc. assets.
Wireless Investor: Private market spectrum M&A dried up in wireless over past year: The lull in wireless spectrum M&A will likely continue as the Federal Communications Commission has lined up spectrum auctions for later this year and continuing into 2020 — each with quiet periods before and after the auctions.
Wireless Investor: New: Global mobile index: Links to Kagan's current and historical profiles of mobile communications markets.
Consumer Insights: ESPN+ users are big fans of other sports apps, Facebook Watch: With only 8% of ESPN+ users indicating they do not use another subscription video-on-demand service, the early adopters of this service are fans of both sports and online video.
Consumer Insights: Seasonal SVOD subscriptions may become next big trend: Survey results reveal that the more subscription video-on-demand services a consumer uses, the more likely the consumer will temporarily sign up and then cancel an SVOD service.
Economics of Internet: Global Video, OTT Index: Links to Kagan's video provider operational tracking and programming spreadsheets, video-on-demand and over-the-top library data and analysis, and over-the-top company and country reports.
The Best Of: Kagan research and analysis, editor's picks: Presenting the editor's top picks from Kagan's exclusive research and analysis for the week ended Aug. 9.
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