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MGM inks $1B deal for EPIX takeover; YouTube TV goes live in 5 metro areas

Top news

* As expected, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. struck a deal to acquire full ownership of premium pay TV channel EPIX (US). MGM, which already owns a 19% stake in EPIX, will pay about $1.03 billion for the interests held in the network by Viacom Inc. and its unit Paramount, and Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. The transaction is expected to close this month, subject to regulatory approval, the company said.

* Google Inc.'s YouTube TV, a paid virtual cable bundle, went live in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago and Philadelphia, according to an official blog post. The new service, which costs $35 per month, will be launched in more U.S. markets in the future.

Technology

* Amazon.com Inc. CEO and founder Jeff Bezos is divesting about $1 billion of the online retailer's stock per year to fund his Blue Origin rocket company, Reuters reports, citing Bezos. Speaking to reporters at an event, Bezos said Blue Origin planned to start testing flights with pilots and engineers this year, but it is now not expected to happen until 2018.

* The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission sued Apple Inc. and its unit Apple Pty Ltd. over claims that the company misled consumers on guarantees for iPhones and iPads that were disabled after receiving an error. In a news release, the agency said the company refused to provide service to such customers since they had their devices repaired or serviced by a third party before, which according to the ACCC was against the country's consumer law.

* Alphabet Inc. unit Google teamed up a group that includes AARNet, Indosat Ooredoo, Singtel, SubPartners and Telsta to invest in a new undersea cable that will connect Singapore to Perth and Sydney, Brian Quigley, director, global network infrastructure at Google, said in a blog post. Called Indigo, the new nearly 5,600-mile-long cable will also reach Jakarta, Indonesia.

Internet & OTT

* MSG Networks Inc.'s live streaming and video-on-demand platform, MSG GO, is now available to Verizon Communications Inc.'s Fios subscribers, the company said. Subscribers, who receive MSG Networks as part of their pay TV subscription, will be able to access the platform at home and on-the-go.

* Facebook Inc. unveiled tools to help people when their intimate images are shared without their permission on its social networking site, Messenger and Instagram. While encouraging users to report such content, the company said in an official blog post that it will also use photo-matching technologies to remove images and block accounts.

* Twitter Inc. unveiled Twitter Lite, a new mobile web experience designed for areas with slower internet connections. According to an official blog post, Twitter Lite minimizes data usage and requires less than 1 MB on the device.

* Netflix Inc. will stream the second season of "Master of None," a scripted comedy series starring Aziz Ansari, on May 12, according to a tweet.

* Amazon will hire more than 5,000 new part-time staffers over the next year in its Virtual Customer Service program. The new jobs are part of the company's plans to fill more than 30,000 part-time positions over the next year, in addition to more than 100,000 full-time jobs the company is creating in the U.S. over the next 18 months, the company said.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng fell 0.52% to 24,273.72, and the Nikkei 225 was down 1.40% to 18,597.06.

In Europe, as of midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.32% to 7,308.14, and the Euronext 100 fell 0.07% to 981.40.

On the macro front

The jobless claims report, the EIA natural gas report, the Treasury STRIPS report, the Fed balance sheet and the money supply report are due out today.

Featured news

The Daily Dose Asia-Pacific: Chinese giants eye Prime Focus; Flipkart set for over $1B in fresh funding: India's Reliance Capital Ltd. is reportedly in talks with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Dalian Wanda Group Co. Ltd. about buying its stake in media services company Prime Focus, while Indian e-commerce company Flipkart is getting investments from Tencent, Microsoft Corp. and eBay Inc.

Amazon's NFL streaming pact could be part of bigger rights play: Sports media analysts wonder Amazon's deal with the NFL to live-stream 10 "TNF" games in 2017 could set the stage for Amazon to make a bid when broader rights become available early next decade.

Data Dispatch: Liberty Interactive's new deal sets sights on broadband future: Liberty Interactive Corp.'s plan to acquire General Communication Inc. and then spin it off with other Liberty cable and broadband assets could be setting up the new company as a take-out target, according to some analysts.

Australia suspends ads on YouTube; Apple wins over Australian banks: The Australian government is suspending "all noncorporate campaign advertising" from YouTube, while an Australian regulator denied four banks' request to boycott Apple Pay.

Conference Chatter: Bored with virtual reality? Mixed reality is already on its way: In three years' time, everyone will sport some form of mixed reality glasses – if Microsoft gets its way. The tech giant plans to extend its highly complex Windows 10-powered technology beyond developers and professionals.

Google-Uber self-driving suit's new twist: In Google's suit over self-driving car technology against Uber, the name of a second Uber employee facing legal action was revealed in an improperly redacted court document.

Hires and Fires Europe: European Media & Comm moves through April 4: Facebook, Verizon, BT: S&P Global Market Intelligence presents a biweekly rundown of executive and board changes in the European media and communications industries.

Telefónica México offers Blim; Fox, Turner eye soccer streaming service: In this monthly LatAm video spotlight feature, S&P Global Market Intelligence provides a roundup of news related to over-the-top, video-on-demand and other video initiatives in Latin American markets.

ZTE off US trade blacklist; Apple victorious in China patent case: In this biweekly Asia-Pacific Regulatory Spotlight feature, S&P Global Market Intelligence provides a roundup of significant recent regulatory events in the region.

The Daily Dose Europe: Vivendi eyes Telecom Italia board control; Germany cracks down on hate speech: Vivendi SA notified the European Commission that it might get two-thirds of Telecom Italia SpA's board, while Germany is pushing for a bill that would force social media companies to pay fines on hate speech and fake news reports.

Featured research

Technology: Another patent portfolio complicates the outlook for HEVC: The long-rumored additional patent portfolio for video compression standard high efficiency video coding was announced March 31 by Velos Media.

Economics of Advertising: Full steam ahead for most ad agency holding groups: Most major ad agency holding groups finished 2016 on a strong note, with Wpp Plc, Omnicom Group Inc. and Interpublic Group of Cos. Inc. reporting strong organic growth for both the fourth quarter and for the year.

Economics of Internet: Australian OTT TV Summit highlights Asian players: The Australian OTT TV Summit held March 27-28 in Sydney featured several players from Asia, including Media Prima's Tonton, iFlix and PCCW's Viu, as they discussed their operations and what Australia can learn from them.

Wireless Investor: AT&T's DIRECTV Now subs double in 3 months: DIRECTV Now launched on Nov. 30, 2016, and reached 200,000 subscribers in December, a milestone that U-verse took a year and half to reach.

Economics of Networks: NFL scores $50M from Amazon: Amazon jumped into the expensive sports rights market by shelling out an estimated $50 million for streaming rights to NFL Thursday Night Football games in 2017.

Multichannel Trends: Liberty, GCI strike 1st high-profile cable deal involving wireless assets: Liberty Interactive's $2.68 billion bid for General Communication can be seen as further evidence of cable's increasing interest in mobility.

The Daily Dose is updated as of 7 a.m. ET. Some external links may require a subscription.