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Verizon to buy stake in AwesomenessTV; Facebook bolsters Live platform with new features


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Verizon to buy stake in AwesomenessTV; Facebook bolsters Live platform with new features


*Verizon CommunicationsInc. struck a deal to buy about 24.5% stake in AwesomenessTV. Uponcompletion of this transaction, the AwesomenessTV multi-platform media companywill be valued at about $650 million, Verizon said in a . , whichacquired AwesomenessTV in 2013, will remain the company's majority stakeholderwith a nearly 51% ownership of outstanding shares, while will own the remaining24.5%. The transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions, iscurrently expected to close within the next 60 days. Also, Verizon struck adeal with AwesomenessTV to create a premium short-form mobile video service,which will operate as a new and independent brand, and feature premiumtransactional content for a variety of audiences. The new service will launchas part of the go90 offering and Verizon will fund the initiative through amultiyear agreement with AwesomenessTV. The new premium content service willinitially be exclusive to Verizon platforms in the U.S., while AwesomenessTVwill retain the right to sell content in the rest of the world.

*Facebook Inc.introduced a numberof new features to its Live platform, including the ability to browse livestreams and push notification features. According to a poston its newsroom page, Facebook users can now "go live" for groups andevents, express their reactions to a live stream, add video filters to streamsand send notifications to friends. The company also launched two places forusers to discover new broadcasts: A dedicated space on the mobile platform toexplore live videos and a worldwide map on desktop to see videos. The livevideo feature is available in more than 60 countries, according to the post.

Internet & OTT

*SoftBank Group not interested in making a play for Yahoo! Inc.'s assets and instead wants to end thepayment of annual fees to the Internet company, Re/code reports,citing sources close to the situation. According to sources, SoftBank hasreportedly been in talks with Yahoo's management in recent months about endingthe annual payments, which now total around $240 million and are related tofees for branding, technology and search. A recent report indicated thatSoftBank President Nikesh Arora was holding talks with Yahoo's board for a potential bid forthe Internet company's assets.

* will premiere"Hannibal Takes Edinburgh," a feature-length documentary filmfeaturing comedian Hannibal Buress, globally on April 8. Filmed in August 2013,"Hannibal Takes Edinburgh" follows Buress as the then up-and-comingcomedian performed nightly to packed houses at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe,the streaming giant said in a news release.

*In more Netflix news, the company is in final stages of talks to acquire rightsto Adam Wingard movie "Death Note," Variety reports.The movie, which stars Nat Wolff and Margaret Qualley, is expected to fetch a pricein the $40 million to $50 million range. Other studios reportedly interested inacquiring the movie project include STX and Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. The movie is reportedlybased on a Japanese Manga series.

Film & TV Programming

*Alibaba Group HoldingLtd.'s Alibaba Pictures unit and Skydance will work on a World WarII movie, titled "The Flying Tigers," Variety reports.The movie is about the first American Volunteer Group of the Chinese Air Forcethat fought alongside the Chinese during the Second World War. According to thereport, Skydance's David Ellison and Dana Goldberg will produce along withAlibaba.


*Alphabet Inc.expanded the testing of its self-driving vehicles to Phoenix, Reuters reports,citing a company announcement. Phoenix reportedly is the fourth U.S. city thathas been used by the company for testing self-driving cars, after MountainView, Calif.; Kirkland, Wash.; and Austin, Texas. In a statement, JenniferHaroon, head of business operations for the Google Self-Driving Car project,reportedly said the distinct desert conditions in the Phoenix area will helpthe company better understand how sensors and cars handle extreme temperatures anddust in the air.

The day ahead

Earlymorning futures indicators pointed to a lower opening for the U.S. market.

InAsia, the Hang Seng rose 0.29% to 20,266.05, while the Nikkei 225 was up 0.22%to 15,749.84.

InEurope, as of midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.09% to 6,156.10, and the Euronext100 fell 0.13% to 844.11.

On the macro front

Thejobless claims report, the EIA natural gas report, the consumer credit report,the Treasury STRIPS report, the Fed balance sheet and the money supply reportare due out today.

Featured news

Daily DoseEurope: Nokia slashes workforce; Hutchison to offer more concessions forThree-O2 deal: NokiaCorp. launched a global redundancy program and could eliminate upto 15,000 positions, while Hutchison is expected to offer network-sharing dealswith Sky plc andVirgin Media Inc. toget EU approval on the Three-O2 deal in the U.K.

Starz goesOTT: Leveraging the present for a stake in the future: The successof Starz originalprogramming lends to an over-the-top strategy now, even if network apps arestill finding footing in the nascent OTT landscape.

Featured research

Multichannel Trends: Execs at Gigabit Cities Live: 1Gbps a net gainfor US economy, but only the beginning: Speakers at the GigabitCities Live 2016 conference on April 5 in Charlotte, N.C., highlighted thestrides of 1Gbps Internet since Google's initial talks of a Google Fiberdeployment back in 2010: its benefits to the U.S. economy and what the futureholds.

GlobalMultichannel: Canadian cable lags US in revenue growth, way ahead in cash flowmargins: Significant video sub losses and sluggish customer growthfor high-speed data conspired to keep 2015 revenue gains in check for the topCanadian cable MSOs.

Economics ofNetworks: Cable Program Investor: Table of contents for issue No.221, published April 2016.

MultichannelTrends: Q4'15 cable commercial revenue from top operators grows 15% YOY; 2015total over $10.3B: Diverse strategies, tailored to individualsub-segments within the commercial space, helped a group of eight reportingcable operators log 16.5% annual growth in business revenues in 2015.

Economics ofInternet: Messaging app user growth slows in the US as marketmatures: Leading messaging apps and services in the U.S. continuedto see combined annual user growth of 10%-plus in the fourth quarter of 2015, butgrowth has cooled substantially from levels seen in 2013 and 2014.