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Netflix posts subscriber data; NBCU names new CEO; Intel buys AI chipmaker


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Netflix posts subscriber data; NBCU names new CEO; Intel buys AI chipmaker

Top News

* Netflix Inc. provided a detailed breakdown of its international subscribers and regional revenue for the first time in a Dec. 16 regulatory filing. The filing showed that the streamer's most lucrative region per subscriber remains the U.S. and Canada, where it reported average monthly revenue of $12.36 per paid membership. Subscriber growth is fastest internationally, however. The company reported the strongest growth in paid net streaming additions in Latin America, where net additions more than tripled between June and September, to 1.49 million additions as of Sept. 30. In the Asia-Pacific region, net subscriber adds nearly doubled quarter over quarter, to 1.54 million as of Sept. 30.

* NBCUniversal Media LLC's head of film and network television will become CEO of the Comcast Corp.-owned media company Jan. 1, 2020, as longtime executive Steve Burke prepares for retirement after the Tokyo Olympics. Jeff Shell will become CEO of NBCU, reporting to Burke, who will resign as CEO and become chairman.

* Intel Corp. purchased Habana Labs Ltd., an Israel-based developer of programmable deep learning accelerators for data centers, in a $2 billion deal that Intel said will strengthen its artificial intelligence business. Habana will continue to operate as an independent business unit based in Israel and will be led by its current management team.

* Apple Inc. and The Walt Disney Co.'s ABC News Inc. teamed up to provide coverage of key events of the 2020 presidential election through the Apple News app, according to a news release. The livestreaming coverage will begin from the Democratic primary debate on Feb. 7, 2020, up until the election night and the 2021 presidential inauguration.

Internet & OTT

* Hulu LLC will premiere an original documentary on climate activist Greta Thunberg in 2020, reports. The upcoming show, under the working title of "Greta," will be produced by Cecilia Nessen and Frederik Heinig through B-Reel Films Inc. and directed by Nathan Grossman.

* Warner Media LLC announced that upcoming streaming service HBO Max will debut an unscripted holiday-themed dating series, "12 Dates of Christmas," in 2020.

* Vox Media Inc. is set to lay off hundreds of freelancers in the coming months in preparation of a California law that bars nonemployees from submitting more than 35 articles per year, reports. The changes will mostly impact people covering sports for the SB Nation website, according to the report.

* Apple started offering a $49.99 annual subscription plan for its Apple Arcade gaming service, reports, citing the website. The company launched the service earlier this year with a monthly subscription fee of $4.99.

* Facebook Inc. is introducing a new feature on Instagram that notifies users when their photo or video captions may be considered offensive. Instagram is using artificial intelligence technology to detect bullying on the platform.


* British regulator Competition and Markets Authority launched an investigation into Google LLC's proposed acquisition of analytics company Looker Data Sciences Inc. over concerns that the deal will hurt competition in the market. The regulator is accepting public comments in relation to the probe until Dec. 20.

* Cisco Systems Inc. unveiled plans to acquire Australia-based network devices manufacturer Exablaze for an undisclosed sum. The transaction is expected to close in the fiscal third quarter of 2020.

* Steve Louden will step down as CFO of U.S.-headquartered Roku Inc. Louden, who joined Roku in 2015, plans to stay until the company finds a replacement.

* ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE's NuCom Group division is considering plans to acquire U.S. livestreaming solutions company Meet Group, Reuters reports, citing sources. NuCom has submitted a preliminary expression of interest, but it remains to be seen if talks will lead to a transaction.

* FreeWheel Media Inc. and Google are expected to bid for ViacomCBS Inc.'s tech business as the newly merged entity is looking to consolidate its tech ad vendors, Broadcasting & Cable reports. The move is part of ViacomCBS' initiative to examine all departments and vendor relationships to cut costs and streamline operations.

* Activist shareholders may urge other Apple shareholders at an annual meeting in 2020 to push the iPhone maker for a public commitment to respect freedom of expression, London's Financial Times reports. Apple lost a bid to have the resolution removed from the agenda items for the meeting. The move is in response to criticism Apple faced for removing a controversial mapping app during the Hong Kong protests.

* U.S. technology companies rejected a request from the Trump administration to pledge that they will stop sourcing supplies from Chinese companies, London's Financial Times reports. The U.S. Department of State sought telecom and chip companies to sign a set of principles that may have imposed greater restrictions on Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and other Chinese companies.

* Google warned Turkish business partners that it will not be able to work on new Android phones to be released in Turkey amid a ruling by the Turkish competition board, Reuters reports. In a ruling, Turkey's competition authority said changes made by the Alphabet Inc. unit to its contracts with the business partners were not acceptable and the U.S. company still not allow changes to the default search engine.

* Human rights group The International Rights Advocates filed a lawsuit against major technology companies over claims of "aiding and abetting" the use of young children to mine cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The suit alleges Microsoft Corp., Apple, Alphabet, Dell Technologies Inc. and Tesla Inc. knew that cobalt used in their products could be linked to child labor.

* Diane Rinaldo is stepping down as acting administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The NTIA is a division of the U.S. Commerce Department that advises the White House on telecom policy and oversees government spectrum holdings.

* Some U.S. carriers, including T-Mobile US Inc. and Sprint Corp., started rolling out Google's Android 10 mobile operating system for Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.'s Galaxy S10 devices in the U.S., 9to5Google reports, citing posts on Reddit and other publications. Verizon Communications Inc. confirmed the availability of Android 10 OS on Galaxy S10 smartphones, reports.

Content & Advertising

* Senior lenders of Kew Media Group Inc. provided notice of an event of default under the company's senior credit facilities due to inaccurate information provided by a former CFO of Kew Media. Kew Media said it continues to "discuss its short-term liquidity requirements with its senior lenders."

* James McLaughlin will retire as CEO of Boston Omaha Corp. unit Link Media Holdings LLC, effective Jan. 1, 2020. The company tapped Scott LaFoy, the head of mergers and acquisitions at Link Media, as interim CEO of the company.

* AMC Networks Inc. is seeking the dismissal of a 2018 lawsuit by Frank Darabont, a former member of "The Walking Dead" production team, Variety reports. In the filing, AMC Networks argued that Darabont's claims in the second suit lacked merit and his profits were rightly calculated in accordance with the terms of his contract with the company.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng was up 1.22% to 27,843.71, and the Nikkei 225 rose 0.47% to 24,066.12.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 fell 0.21% to 7,503.42, and the Euronext 100 was down 0.38% to 1,141.94.

On the macro front

The housing starts report, the redbook, the industrial production report and the Labor Department's JOLTS report 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: BT sells Spanish unit; Liberty Global, Sunrise end deal; NuCom eyes Meet Group: British Telecom is selling its Spanish operations to Portobello Capital Gestión SGEIC SA-backed funds, Liberty Global PLC ended talks to sell UPC Schweiz to Swiss operator Sunrise Communications Group AG, and ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE unit NuCom Group is considering acquiring U.S. company Meet Group.

The Daily Dose Asia-Pacific: Brookfield to buy Jio's tower unit; Dentsu to restructure; Viu exits India: Reliance Industries Ltd. struck a deal to sell the tower arm of Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd., Dentsu Inc. will shed about 11% of its employees in seven markets under a restructuring plan, and Hong Kong-based video streaming service Viu is exiting India.

M&A Replay: Intel buys AI chipmaker for $2B; Sony unit buys Silvergate Media: Intel purchased Israel-based Habana Labs in a $2 billion deal, while Sony Pictures Television Inc. acquired Silvergate Media Holdings Ltd..

M&A Replay: Altice Europe to sell stake in Portuguese fiber unit; Apple buys UK tech startup: A Morgan Stanley-backed fund will buy a minority stake in Altice Europe's Portuguese fiber business, while Apple acquired U.K.-based startup Spectral Edge Ltd.

The Week in OTT: 'The Irishman' viewership numbers; AT&T TV launch date: Netflix expects 40 million households to watch "The Irishman" during its first month of release, while AT&T Inc. is set to launch its AT&T TV service nationwide in February 2020.

ITV, BBC's BritBox lacks content, budget to thrive in UK: The public service broadcasters' streaming service is curbing its appeal by launching with previously aired shows that will mainly resonate with older viewers, analysts said.

Featured research

The Best Of: Kagan research and analysis, editor's picks: Kagan presents the editor's top picks from its exclusive research and analysis for the week ended Dec. 13.

Economics of TV & Film: 'Frozen II' ices out other theatrical releases in November: "Frozen II" was the biggest theatrical hit released in November 2019 and carried that success over to the most recent film profit projections.

Multichannel Trends: 2020 US multichannel outlook: Sector at a crossroads: A year of sector-altering developments threatens to converge with a softening economic environment to increase headwinds in 2020, prompting operators to explore creative solutions.

Wireless Investor: Bids rise at good clip in week 1 of 37 GHz-39 GHz Auction 103: The auction of 14,144 licenses in 37 GHz-39 GHz-47 GHz bands hit $2 billion after three days of bidding, with heavy demand in the lower bands and little in the upper band.

Economics of Networks: Cable network Q3'19 distribution revenue recap: Distribution remains the dominant revenue stream for most of the major U.S. cable programmers that reported earnings for the quarter ended Sept. 30, even as the multichannel universe continues to shrink.

Global Multichannel: 2019 LatAm groups report: Broadband has largest share of fixed service revenues: During 2018, broadband overtook TV to reach 38.9% of top groups' fixed revenue. América Móvil SAB de CV and Telefónica SA dominate the Latin American market with 48.7% of total subscribers at year-end 2018.

Global Multichannel: 2019 LatAm groups report: Top groups' pay TV subscriber base grew 2% in 2018: Latin America's top multichannel providers experienced mixed results during 2018, with the subscriber base growing but revenues dropping due to economic turbulence in key markets. AT&T remains the top revenue generator despite losing subs in 2018.

Global Multichannel: 2019 LatAm groups report: Megacable had strongest financial position in 2018: Megacable had the best financial position during 2018 due to high margins and low debt levels. Foreign exchange volatility in large markets affected EBITDA as well as groupwide revenues, which stood at $98.37 billion.

Economics of Advertising: Media Trends: Kagan presents its annual look at trends in media, including a focus on patterns in consumer spending on entertainment and other related services.

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