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AMC acquiring RLJ Entertainment; Discovery mulls streaming service


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AMC acquiring RLJ Entertainment; Discovery mulls streaming service

Top News

* AMC Networks Inc. struck a definitive agreement to acquire premium digital channel company RLJ Entertainment Inc. in a going-private merger, according to an official release. Pursuant to the merger agreement, AMC Networks will pay about $65 million in cash to holders of RLJ Entertainment's outstanding common stock, preferred stock and warrants not currently owned by AMC Networks, RLJ founder and Chairman Robert Johnson and their respective affiliates. Upon completion of the transaction, which has an aggregate enterprise value of about $274 million, RLJ Entertainment will become an indirect subsidiary of AMC Networks, with Johnson and his affiliates owning a 17% stake.

* Discovery Inc. is considering plans to launch a direct-to-consumer streaming service in the range of $5 a month to $8 a month, AdWeek reports. The service is expected to let subscribers access the company's entire network portfolio.

* CBS Corp.'s board will investigate allegations of sexual misconduct by the media company's Chairman, CEO and President Leslie Moonves that were detailed in an article by The New Yorker, according to a statement by CBS' independent directors. The statement noted that the allegations were recently reported but involve incidents "that go back several decades."

* A slew of earnings reports fueled big movement in the technology, media and telecommunications space for the week ended July 27, particularly sending shares in Facebook Inc. and Nielsen Holdings PLC to record lows. Facebook drove Wall Street into a frenzy after executives on July 25 reported slower-than-expected revenue growth for the quarter and predicted similar growth deceleration during the rest of the year. The social media giant's shares plunged nearly 19% in the day following the earnings report, wiping out over $100 billion in the company's public market value.


* The New York Public Service Commission has rescinded approval for Charter Communications Inc.'s merger with Time Warner Cable Inc. over noncompliance with conditions set for the approval. The commissions has ordered Charter to file a plan within 60 days to "ensure an orderly transition to a successor provider(s)," according to a news release.

Internet & OTT

* Viacom Inc. has acquired AwesomenessTV, a youth-oriented digital media company from Comcast Corp., Verizon Communications Inc. and Hearst Corp. AwesomenessTV will become part of Viacom's digital studios division, which is led by former Awesomeness executive Kelly Day, a Viacom spokesman said in a company blog post. AwesomenessTV CEO Jordan Levin will step down following a transition period.

* Comedy creator Kenya Barris is ending his overall deal with ABC Studios, reports. Barris, who was a little over a year into his four-year deal with the studio, plans to move over to Netflix Inc., according to the report.

* Netflix has bought worldwide rights to CGI action movie "Mowgli" from Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros., reports. The film is directed by Andy Serkis and is based on the "Jungle Book" stories of Rudyard Kipling.

* In more streaming news, Inc. has renewed drama series "Sneaky Pete" for a third season, reports. Created by Bryan Cranston and David Shore, the series stars Giovanni Ribisi as a con man who left prison only to find himself hunted by the vicious gangster he once robbed.


* Paramount's "Mission: Impossible – Fallout" topped the domestic box office for the July 29 weekend with $61.5 million, followed by Universal's "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again" at No. 2 with $15 million and Sony Corp.'s "The Equalizer 2" was No. 3 with $14 million, according to comScore Inc. Sony's "Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation" took the fourth spot with $12.3 million, while Warner Bros.' "Teen Titans Go! To The Movies" was No. 5 with $10.5 million.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng was down 0.25% to 28,733.13. The Nikkei 225 slid 0.74% to 22,544.84. In Europe as of midday, the FTSE 100 slipped 0.07% to 7,696.08, and the Euronext 100 lost 0.30% to 1,077.55.

On the macro front

The pending home sales index is due out today.

Featured news

The Best Of: Media & Comm, editor's picks: Analysts on Facebook stock; AT&T ups HBO spending: Stories about analysts' opinions on Facebook's recent stock woes and AT&T Inc.'s goal to increase spending on new HBO (US) projects are among the editor's top five story picks for the week ended July 27.

The Best Of: Media & Comm, most read: MoviePass' box-office strategy; Disney's Hulu plans: A Q&A with MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe and interviews with entertainment experts about Disney's plans for Hulu LLC are included in the most-read stories for the week ended July 27.

Data Dispatch: Final 'Mission: Impossible' looking to out-maneuver predecessors: The July 27 weekend will mark the last debut in the Tom Cruise Mission: Impossible franchise, and it is looking to end with a bang.

Data Dispatch: Broadband penetration rates in Blockbuster's last bastion: Following the recent closure of two stores in Alaska, Bend, Ore., became the last city in the U.S. with a Blockbuster store, raising the question: How has it managed to survive?

Hires and Fires Europe: TIM unit CEO resigns; UPC Switzerland COO promoted to CEO: S&P Global Market Intelligence presents a biweekly rundown of executive and board changes in the European media and communications industries.

The Pay Check: Roku CEO's salary increase; Discovery CEO's new agreement: Roku Inc. increased the base salary of President and CEO Anthony Wood to $1.2 million. David Zaslav, who will remain president and CEO of Discovery until Dec. 31, 2023, will continue to receive an annual base salary of $3 million.

Analysts: BT leadership uncertainty clouds improved performance: Little detail on a succession plan to replace British Telecom's outgoing CEO Gavin Patterson clouds the improved performance of the U.K. telecoms giant, according to analysts.

Featured research

Economics of Networks: NBCU cable networks grow cash flow by 12.5%Economics of TV & Film: Kagan box office report, week 29: Weekly box office was down for the second week in a row, off a slight 0.3% in week 29 from $260.2 million in 2017 to $259.5 million in 2018. The summer season is ahead of last year by a significant margin, up 18.8% to nearly $3.23 billion in 2018.

Economics of Advertising: Cardinals push FOX Sports Midwest to top regional sports network rating in June: FOX Sports Midwest (US) (in the St. Louis market) scored the highest prime-time rating for regional sports networks in June with a 2.91. FOX Sports Midwest's month-leading rating ranks 263rd on June's all-time prime-time list since 2011.

Multichannel Trends: Top MVPDs leverage TV Everywhere infrastructure to launch skinny live options: Amidst growing appeal of skinny virtual multichannel services, Kagan's latest survey of publicly disclosed TV Everywhere offerings showed less emphasis on promoting live-linear channels compared to previous years.

Broadcast Investor: Cox Enterprises' 14 TV stations could yield up to $2.78B in deal: On July 24, Cox Enterprises Inc. announced it was seeking strategic options for its 14 TV stations, possibly including partnering with or merging into a larger TV group.

Recent earnings

Twitter shares fall amid monthly user slip: Twitter Inc. shares fell by as much as 15% in pre-market trading July 27 as the company failed to increase its average monthly active user figures during its second quarter.

Analysts lower stock price targets following Nielsen woes: Weak second-quarter results, lower guidance and a strategic review of the measurement giant's Buy segment have led two analysts to significantly drop their price targets on Nielsen stock.

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