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Verizon exploring merger with Charter; Lions Gate in talks to sell EPIX stake


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Verizon exploring merger with Charter; Lions Gate in talks to sell EPIX stake

Top News

* Verizon Communications Inc. CEO Lowell McAdam has reached out to officials close to Charter Communications Inc. about a potential merger, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing sources with knowledge of the details. Verizon is reportedly working with advisers on a potential deal, the sources said. Meanwhile, Reuters cited sources to report that Verizon has not proposed an acquisition to Charter.

* Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. is in talks to sell its 31.2% stake in EPIX (US) to the joint venture's other partners, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. and Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures, Reuters reports, citing people with knowledge of the matter. Any resultant deal could reportedly value the network between $1 billion and $2 billion, the people added.


* Apple Inc. became a member of artificial intelligence research group, called Partnership on AI, Bloomberg News reports. Other members of the group include Inc., Alphabet Inc.'s Google Inc., Facebook Inc., IBM and Microsoft Corp.

Internet & OTT

* Netflix Inc. picked up rights to stream OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network (US)'s drama series "Greenleaf," Multichannel News reports, citing a company statement. The first season of the series will premiere on Netflix on March 3, as part of an agreement between the streaming giant and Lions Gate, which produced the series.

* In more company news, Netflix will handle distribution of Alaska-set thriller "Hold the Dark," Variety reports. "Hold the Dark" will be directed by Jeremy Saulnier and shooting will reportedly begin Feb. 27 in Alberta, Canada.

* Twitter Inc. unveiled a new Explore tab that will allow users to find trends, Moments, search, and live video at one location. According to an official blog post, Explore started rolling out for the Twitter app on iOS, and will start rolling out in the coming weeks on Twitter for Android.

* Starz launched a streaming app for Inc.'s Fire TV box and Fire TV Stick, Multichannel News reports. Subscribers will be able to access licensed movies and original series via the new Starz (US) app.

* and PayPal Holdings Inc. held talks that focused on letting shoppers use their PayPal accounts to pay for goods on, Bloomberg News reports, citing an interview with PayPal CEO Dan Schulman. PayPal has 200 million users on its platform, Schulman reportedly said in the interview.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng slipped 0.06% to 23,360.78, while the Nikkei 225 increased 0.34% to 19,467.40.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.06% to 7,157.12, and the Euronext 100 was down 0.33% to 934.39.

On the macro front

The GDP report, the consumer sentiment report and the durable goods orders are due out today.

Featured news

The Daily Dose Asia-Pacific: Xiaomi exec to lead VR at Facebook; Alibaba affiliate buying MoneyGram: The Chinese smartphone maker's departing head of global operations, Hugo Barra, will become Facebook's vice president of virtual reality, while Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. affiliate Ant Financial Services Group is acquiring MoneyGram International Inc. in a deal worth US$880 million.

Rumor Mill: A Verizon/cable deal may be inevitable: Amid persistent speculation that Verizon will make a play for a cable operator, several analysts weigh in on the questions the talk raises about Verizon's future.

Data Dispatch: Universal debut could be top dog at box office despite scandal: "A Dog's Purpose" was supposed to be an easy debut win for Universal, but an animal-mistreatment scandal is weighing on its prospects.

Hires and Fires: US Media & Comm management moves through Jan. 25: Amazon, Microsoft, Sprint: S&P Global Market Intelligence presents a weekly rundown of executive changes in the media and communications industries.

Washington Watch: Set-top boxes and Congress' history of mixed messages: Twenty-one years ago, Congress directed the FCC to cultivate a competitive marketplace for set-top boxes. But now, Republican leaders seem to be telling the commission to let sleeping set-top boxes lie.

Hires and Fires Europe: European Media & Comm moves through Jan. 25: BT, T-Mobile, Viacom: S&P Global Market Intelligence presents a biweekly rundown of executive and board changes in the European media and communications industries.

The Daily Dose Europe: SKY TV to launch in OTT form; TVN inks Warner Bros. deal: Sky plc said it will roll out SKY TV as an over-the-top service in the U.K. in 2018, while Poland's TVN SA landed free TV and basic pay rights to Warner Bros. content.

Featured research

Multichannel Trends: Potential Verizon, Charter M&A highlights broadband, 5G impact: The swirling reports around a potential tie-up between Charter and Verizon, absent confirmation, offer an opportunity to examine the potential influence of the combined assets of the nation's No. 1 wireless carrier and the companies' respective wireline footprints.

Multichannel Trends: Comcast delivers in Q4 yet again: With its best full-year video and broadband sub results in nearly a decade, yet another year of mid-single-digit revenue growth and plans to expand its product palette, Comcast appears to be set to keep up the momentum in 2017.

Economics of Networks: Cable Program Investor: Table of contents for Issue No. 230, published January 2017.

Wireless Investor: Where will mobile stand in the 'connected intelligence' era?: Some argued at the MobileMonday predictions panel that the mobile era will be eclipsed by the emergence of a new platform while others believed mobile markets worldwide will continue to take off.

Economics of Networks: Netflix lands 12 blockbusters in premium window: Films remain an important part of premium network schedules, but several output deals have moved to subscription video-on-demand platforms in recent years.

Multichannel Trends: Top MVPDs simplify home security/automation offerings, eye IoT: Top U.S. multichannel operators are sticking with security and automation despite the lack of evidence of strong demand.

Recent earnings

Execs: Alphabet 'firing on all cylinders,' despite losses in Other Bets: The company touted its focus on streaming content and successes in its Other Bets unit on its fourth-quarter 2016 earnings call Jan. 26.

Microsoft beats fiscal Q2'17 on 'stabilizing' PC business, cloud expansion: Microsoft beat consensus estimates on big growth in the cloud business.

Alphabet touts machine learning, YouTube performance in 2016: The company saw a 22% revenue increase year over year, citing strong mobile search and YouTube revenues.

Comcast to take 'disciplined' and 'limited' approach to wireless offering: Comcast Corp. shared some details about its planned launch of a wireless offering, indicating it would take a very careful approach.

Sky CEO: Discovery is becoming less relevant: Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch launched a rare attack on Discovery Communications Inc. during Sky's half-year earnings presentation, as the public dispute between the two companies heats up.

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