Starz launched a subscription streaming service thatwill cost $8.99 a month. The stand-alone app will allow users to access morethan 2,400 selections each month, including Starz (US) shows such as "Outlander,""Power" and the upcoming "American Gods," and movies suchas "Avengers: Age of Ultron," according to a company . The digital retailservice allows for up to four users to watch simultaneously and virtuallyunlimited downloads. The new app will be available for a wide range ofApple Inc.'s iOSdevices and 's Androidsupported devices. Starz subscribers from cable, satellite and telco partnerscan also authenticate and can access Starz programming via the new app.Subscribers to the Starz sister networks, Starz Encore and Movieplex, can alsoaccess the app to stream and download content.
* ThomasStaggs will step downas COO of Walt DisneyCo., effective May 6, just after a little more than a year in theposition. Staggs, who was named Disney's operating chief in February 2015, willcontinue to serve the company as special adviser to CEO Bob Iger through thisfiscal year, Disney said in an official statement. Staggs joined Disney in 1990 as manager ofstrategic planning and previously served as CFO. The company did not disclosethe reason behind the move. Meanwhile, Disney used the statement as anopportunity to address succession planning for CEO Iger also. It said that withabout two years left before Iger steps down as chairman and CEO, the company's"board will broaden the scope of its succession planning process toidentify and evaluate a robust slate of candidates for consideration."
*Google's Android Autoin-car operating system is nowavailable in 18 new countries, according to a tweet byAndroid. The new countries include Brazil, India, Bolivia, Puerto Rico, andArgentina. Google is a unit of Alphabet Inc.
*Microsoft Corp.entered into a strategic partnership with R3, a consortium of 43 financialinstitutions, to accelerate the use of blockchain technologies, Bloomberg News reports,citing an announcement by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Blockchains are onlineledgers that are used for recording transactions, according to the report. Inan interview, R3 CEO David Rutter said the first commercial deployments of theblockchain technology could go live in about a year, while significantcommercial adoption could take three to five years. Marley Gray, director oftechnology strategy at Microsoft, reportedly said the software giant is settingup a team of five people to work on the project, and expects that number toreach up to 50 employees.
*Amazon.com Inc. CEOJeff Bezos said in a tweet thatthe latest version of its Kindle device is "almost ready," with moredetails to be disclosed in the week of April 11. The new device would beAmazon.com's eighth generation e-book reader.
Internet & OTT
*NeoNova, a broadband division of the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative,teamed up with DISH NetworkCorp.'s Sling TV to launch a new referral program that allows itsaffiliates to promote the live and on-demand over-the-top television service.Under the program, affiliates will be allowed to refer their customers to SlingTV, according to an official news release.
*Former Fox Broadcasting Co. executive Gaude Paez joined as vice president and head ofcorporate communications, The HollywoodReporter reports.Paez, who was previously serving the 21st Century Fox Inc. unit as senior vice president ofcorporate communications and digital publicity, will now lead externalcommunications at Hulu, according to the report. Hulu's content owners are 21stCentury Fox, Disney and ComcastCorp.'s NBCUniversalMedia LLC.
*SoftBank Group Corp.President Nikesh Arora is in talks with Yahoo! Inc.'s board for a potential bid for the Internetcompany's assets, theNew York Post reports,citing a source close to the situation. SoftBank already owns a 36.4% stake inYahoo Japan, while Yahoo owns a 35.5% stake, and the companies "arefiguring out a solution for the whole," the source reportedly said.SoftBank also owns a 32% stake in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Yahoo owns a 15.5% stake,with Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma owning a 5% interest. SoftBank could reportedlyend up with a 47.5% stake in Alibaba if a deal with Yahoo goes through. Asource, meanwhile, said Ma would not want SoftBank to become a controllingshareholder in Alibaba.
*Vox Media joined forces with NBCUniversal Media to launch Concert, a premiumquality content and audience inventory for advertisers. Concert will allowbrand marketers to target an audience of more than 150 million people acrossVox Media's eight properties and NBCU's digital properties, according to anofficial newsrelease. Also, sales teams from both companies will market Concertto advertisers and expand the offering to include other premium publishers incoming months. The initiative follows NBCU's strategic investment in Vox Mediain August 2015.
The day ahead
Early morning futures indicators pointed to a lower openingfor the U.S. market.
In Asia, the Hang Seng was up 1.57% to 20,177.00, and theNikkei 225 fell 2.42% to 15,732.82.
In Europe as of midday, the FTSE 100 dropped 1.35% to6,081.33, and the Euronext 100 was down 2.12% to 838.68.
On the macro front
The international trade report, Redbook Index, PMI servicesindex and the ISM non-manufacturing index are due out today.
The Daily DoseEurope: HarperCollins to fully own Harlequin France; Altice's Drahi named inPanama leak: HarperCollins bought out Hachette Livre's 50% stake inHarlequin France for an undisclosed amount, while founder Patrick Drahi wasmentioned in the Panama Papers leak.
Pricingdisputes curtail opening day carriage of Yankees, Dodgers networks:Pricing disputes continue to hamper YES Network (US) and SportsNet LA (US) in their pursuits to gaingreater distribution for their respective telecasts of New York Yankees' andLos Angeles Dodgers' games.
The PressPass: Snapchat squares off with Facebook: The company's latestupdate creates broader appeal to its users, further positioning it to competewith Facebook's suite of messaging apps.
ConferenceChatter: Fears brew that virtual reality TV may follow the 3Dcurve: Virtual reality is being touted as the next major frontierfor the TV industry. However, VR TV will require greater levels of investmentin order to avoid the fate of 3-D technology, according to panelists atpre-MIPTV event MIPDoc in Cannes, France.
The week inOTT: FCC not to investigate Netflix's throttling issue; Lions Gate, Kevin Hartteam up for new streaming service: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler saidthe agency does not plan to investigate Netflix Inc.'s throttling of the video quality of itsstreaming service for AT&TInc. and VerizonCommunications Inc.'s wireless customers, while andKevin Hart have joined forces to launch a new video-on-demand service, calledLaugh Out Loud.
M&AReplay: European deals through April 1: BBC, Sky, Discovery, VICE:SNL Kagan provides a wrap-up of European media and communications dealannouncements, completions and updates from March 21 to April 1.
M&AReplay: Deals through April 1: SNL Kagan provides a wrap-up ofmedia and communications deal announcements and completions from March 28 toApril 1.
Data Dispatch:Chart Watch: AMC Entertainment's acquisition of Carmike Cinemas tops M&Adeals in March: AMCEntertainment Holdings Inc. positions itself as the largest filmexhibitor in the world after acquiring Carmike Cinemas Inc. in March. The TV network sectoractivity continues with the third deal in as many months.
Economics ofInternet: CBS All Access expands live feed to 132 markets; originals on theway: The CBSCorp. over-the-top service continued its affiliate expansion bysigning more carriage deals, which now total 39 different station groupsstreaming live in 132 markets.
Economics ofNetworks: Nielsen universe estimates reveal 2.5% average decline: Thetop 10 most widely distributed cable networks all shed subscribers on ayear-over-year basis in February at an average decline of 2.5%, according toNielsen Holdingsuniverse estimates.
Best of SNL:SNL Kagan research and analysis, editor's picks: Presenting theeditor's top picks from SNL Kagan's exclusive research and analysis for theweek ended April 1.