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Apple sued over App Store practices; Viacom's Pluto TV to launch Latino service

Top News

* Apple Inc. is facing a lawsuit in a California federal court over alleged antitrust practices involving its App Store, Reuters reports. California-based app developer Donald Cameron and Illinois Pure Sweat Basketball claimed that the tech giant allowed downloading iPhone apps only through the App Store, while taking a commission of up to 30% from developers on app sales. The suits follow similar concerns raised by companies such as Spotify Technology SA.

* Viacom Inc.'s streaming platform Pluto TV on July 1 will launch Pluto TV Latino, which features Spanish-language channels, President and CEO Bob Bakish said. Following its distribution deals with Comcast Corp. and Cox Communications Inc. to launch Pluto TV on the two major cable operators' video platforms, Viacom is expected to announce a third deal soon, Bakish said.

* In related news, Cox Communications is adding Pluto TV to Cox Contour and Contour Stream Player. The Pluto TV app will provide Contour and Contour Stream Player customers access to more than 100 channels and hours of on-demand content, according to a news release.

* Though the proposed merger of Sprint Corp. and T-Mobile US Inc. appears to have cleared all federal regulatory hurdles besides the U.S. Department of Justice, California's influential public utilities commission continues to be a potential obstacle for the deal. While the California PUC only has a say over what happens to the proposed deal in California, technology law experts note that the agency's decision could effectively determine the outcome of the deal nationwide.

Internet & OTT

* Netflix Inc.'s comedy series "The Ranch" is set for its fourth and final season, the show's creator and star Ashton Kutcher tweeted. The first 10 episodes of the final season are slated to air this year, with the remaining 10 to be broadcast in 2020.

* Apple is asking developers to place a new "Sign in with Apple" button on iPhone and iPad apps above similar buttons from Alphabet Inc. unit Google LLC and Facebook Inc., Reuters reports, citing the company's design guidelines. The iPhone maker's move is in response to users often choosing the top option on apps.

* The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sued Canadian social media company Kik Interactive Inc. for illegally conducting a securities offering of digital tokens worth $100 million in early 2017, according to a statement. The commission said Kik sold the securities without registering the offering as required by U.S. securities laws, while depriving investors of information.

Film & TV

* A mix of marquee sports rights and changes to the TV marketplace should position the newly streamlined Fox Corp. to take "a disproportionate share of the growth" in upfront ad-sales negotiations for the coming TV season, said Fox CFO Steven Tomsic. The shift of more entertainment programming to non-ad-supported formats, including subscription streaming packages, will tighten competition for ad-placement with its live sports programming, Tomsic said.

* Nickelodeon (US) has greenlit an original spinoff of hit series "SpongeBob SquarePants," according to a news release. Production on the new series, tentatively entitled "Kamp Koral," will start in June. Meanwhile, Nickelodeon's parent company Viacom said it is launching new seasons for its preschool animated shows "PAW Patrol," "Bubble Guppies," "Abby Hatcher" and "Butterbean's Café."

* Fox Searchlight Pictures Inc. is working to acquire the rights to "Solitary," a memoir written by African-American Albert Woodfox about his solitary confinement in Louisiana's Angola Prison, Deadline reports. Actor Mahershala Ali is eyed to play Woodfox in the memoir's film version, while also serving as executive producer.

Technology

* TV software vendor TiVo Corp. has claimed victory in a case before the International Trade Commission, in which an administrative judge ruled that Comcast's X1 video platform infringes one of Rovi's patents. The ruling follows the ITC's 2017 decision finding Comcast infringing two Rovi patents on the now-scrapped remote recording feature on X1.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, Hang Seng increased 0.50% to 26,895.44, while the Nikkei 225 gained 1.80% to 20,776.10.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 went up 0.59% to 7,256.51, and the Euronext 100 climbed 0.77% to 1,037.96.

On the macro front

The U.S. ADP employment report, the U.S. services purchasing managers' index, the U.S. Institute for Supply Management non-manufacturing index, the U.S. Energy Information Administration petroleum status report and the U.S. Beige Book 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.

Featured news

The Daily Dose Europe: Google appeals against EC's €1.49B fine; SPI, Salt Mobile sign distribution deal: Google LLC filed an appeal against the European Commission's fine over its advertisement practices, while SPI International Inc./FilmBox and Salt Mobile SA signed a distribution agreement.

The Daily Dose Asia-Pacific: SoftBank to log ¥1.2T profit from Alibaba share sale; Tencent drops Nexon bid: SoftBank Group Corp. expects to book approximately ¥1.2 trillion in pretax profit from the completion of the sale of some of its shares in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., while Tencent Holdings Ltd. terminated its bid for South Korean gaming company Nexon Co. Ltd.

Featured research

Multichannel Trends: Bumper Q1 boosts satellite broadband revenues: The top two U.S. satellite broadband providers reported solid financials in the first quarter — the eighth straight quarter of subscriber gains.

Multichannel Trends: Broadband-only breezes past milestones: The segment in first quarter 2019 broke fresh grounds in absolute numbers, penetration of occupied households and percentage of total wireline broadband homes.

Economics of Advertising: April Nielsen ratings show CBS on top: An analysis of April Nielsen Holdings PLC ratings and delivery at the national broadcast networks that includes prime-time programming breakouts by network.

Consumer Insights: Survey finds that US cord cutters use SVOD more than cord nevers: A comparison of data from Kagan U.S. Consumer Insights surveys conducted over the past four years reveals that the use of online subscription video services by video cord cutters is growing faster than that of video cord nevers.

Economics of Internet: 'Grey's Anatomy' tops again in March 2019 digital video rankings: "Grey's Anatomy" may be getting long in the tooth, but it continues to draw big digital viewing audiences, topping 7 million digital video viewers in March for the first time ever.

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