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Movies Anywhere launches in US; Viacom, Charter brace for carriage deadlock


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Movies Anywhere launches in US; Viacom, Charter brace for carriage deadlock

Top News

* As expected, Movies Anywhere, a new video content platform that features films from major Hollywood studios and video-on-demand platforms, launched in the U.S. today. The digital service will feature about 7,300 movies from Walt Disney Co.'s Walt Disney Studios, Sony Corp.'s Sony Pictures Entertainment, 21st Century Fox Inc. unit 20th Century Fox Film, Comcast Corp.'s Universal Pictures and Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros. upon launch, according to a news release. Users can also link their accounts on Inc.'s Amazon Video, Google Inc.'s Google Play, Apple Inc.'s iTunes and VUDU Inc. into Movies Anywhere.

* Viacom Inc. and Charter Communications Inc. carriage talks are heading toward a potential deadlock over financial terms of a new deal, Multichannel News reports, citing a company statement. With the current deal set to expire Oct. 15, Viacom has started warning Charter subscribers of a potential disruption of service for all of its networks.

* The integration of biometric interfaces could bring a whole new world of virtual and augmented reality services, as well as privacy challenges, executives said at the Digital Hollywood conference. With more entertainment options equipped with biometric capabilities, more personal data is going to VR/AR hardware and software manufacturers.

* With SeaWorld Entertainment Inc.'s stock price having sunk roughly 50% over the last four years, published reports suggest other theme park operators see a buying opportunity. But a deal may not be easy.

Internet & OTT

* Former Inc. executive Monique Meche has joined Netflix Inc. as vice president of global public policy, Recode reports. Meche, who will oversee the streaming giant's government affairs operation in the U.S. and across its global footprint, previously served at Amazon's global policy division.

* While service providers have sought to cash in on short-form content by aggregating videos from the web, analysts say lessons learned from Comcast's Watchable and Verizon Communications Inc.'s Go90 prove this strategy is not enough. Kagan analyst Seth Shafer pointed to Comcast's recent decision to pull the plug on its Watchable video service.

* Facebook Inc. Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer said in an interview that the company is working to improve the way it handles political ads on the platform ahead of the U.S. congressional and state elections in November 2018, Reuters reports. Schroepfer said the company will roll out a series of updates and changes as part of its efforts to prevent any kind of interference in the elections.

* Alphabet Inc. unit Google Inc. pulled the plug on a YouTube channel that was allegedly involved in Russian disinformation operations during the 2016 U.S. election, reports. The channel featured videos that targeted Hillary Clinton.

* Speakers at Digital TV Central and Eastern Europe in Budapest cautioned international streaming giants against taking a global approach to local markets. Andrey Kolodyuk, founder of Ukrainian streaming service Divan.TV and managing director of Aventures Capital, said that the pricing and the lack of local content are holding back the success of companies like Netflix and Amazon in the region.


* Uber Technologies Inc. rejected conditions set by Alphabet Inc. unit Waymo to settle a legal dispute over the alleged theft of trade secrets, Reuters reports, citing sources with knowledge of the details. While the exact timing of the offer could not be determined, Waymo had reportedly demanded nearly $1 billion in damages and a public apology from Uber.

* Google will co-host an event featuring U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and conservative media company Newsmax, Reuters reports. In an emailed invitation, Newsmax Media CEO Christopher Ruddy said Larry Kudlow will interview Ross and discuss "the positive impact President Trump's policies are having on the American economy."

* As exhibitors scramble to show growth through investments in virtual reality, some insiders at Digital Hollywood in Los Angeles said that theatrical films are on the way out. As admissions flatten and tickets and concessions run up against consumers' pricing limits, recent VR investments by IMAX Corp. and AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. demonstrate the trend, said Schuyler Moore, entertainment attorney and partner at Greenberg Glusker.

* Britain produces more technology unicorns, or businesses valued at $1 billion or more, than any other country in Europe. However, concerns are growing over startups' ability to hire the talent required to maintain its leading position after Brexit.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng rose 0.24% to 28,459.03, and the Nikkei 225 was up 0.35% to 20,954.72.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 rose 0.16% to 7,546.21, while the Euronext 100 was down 0.23% to 1,044.44.

On the macro front

The jobless claims report, the PPI-FD report, the EIA natural gas report, the EIA petroleum status report, the Treasury budget report, the Fed balance sheet and the money supply report are due out today.

Featured news

The Daily Dose Europe: Russia, Crimea bought $1.0M of Microsoft products; Roku launches devices in UK: State organizations in Russia and Crimea were found to have bought about $1.0 million of Microsoft Corp. products, despite sanctions, while Roku Inc. began selling the Roku Express and Roku Streaming Stick+ devices in the U.K.

The Daily Dose Asia-Pacific: Alibaba allots $15B for tech R&D; Ola gets funding from Tencent, SoftBank: Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. revealed plans to invest US$15 billion in a global R&D program, while Indian ride-hailing startup Ola raised US$1.1 billion in its latest funding round led by Tencent Holdings Ltd. and SoftBank Group Corp..

The Program Guide: Cinemax discloses original lineup for 2018; Netflix picks 'Raising Dion': Netflix ordering science fiction drama "Raising Dion" and Apple partnering with Steven Spielberg to reboot "Amazing Stories" are included in this edition of The Program Guide.

Hires and Fires: Warner Music Group expands board size; comScore adds independent directors: An investor group plans to nominate up to three candidates for election to Cincinnati Bell Inc.'s board, while comScore Inc. is adding new independent directors to its board as part of a settlement agreement with Starboard Value.

Netflix, Orange renew distribution deal; Yandex to launch online video service: In this monthly Eastern Europe Video Spotlight feature, S&P Global Market Intelligence provides a roundup of news related to over-the-top, video-on-demand and other online video initiatives in different Eastern European markets.

Featured research

Consumer Insights: Chinese mobile operators by subscriber demographics: China Telecom Corp. Ltd. subscribers stand out compared to other Chinese smartphone users, according to data from our online consumer survey.

Economics of Networks: Cable network industry still suffering from cord cutting/shaving: The cable network industry continues to remain under pressure following subs lost to cord cutting and cord shaving, as well as a lack of inclusion of digital viewing in the ratings.

Global Multichannel: TV industry warns of barriers to expansion of pan-European targeted ad platforms: Speakers at the New Video Frontiers conference said addressable ad platforms that reach across Europe could boost revenues, but acknowledged that the individual markets do not easily mesh.

Multichannel Trends: XFINITY Instant TV boasts lofty gross margins despite aggressive pricing: Analyzing Comcast's new streaming bundles points to gross margins significantly outpacing virtual service provider competitors. There is also the potential for non-negligible accretive cash flows.

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