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Disney content on Charter; T-Mobile-Sprint deal update; Microsoft audio access

Top news

* Charter Communications Inc. and Walt Disney Co. struck a new multiyear distribution agreement to deliver an expanding portfolio of Disney-owned sports, news and entertainment content to Spectrum customers, including via new streaming platforms. The deal will allow Spectrum to distribute Disney's direct-to-consumer offerings Hulu LLC, ESPN+ and the soon-to-launch Disney+.

* U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai formally recommended the approval of the proposed T-Mobile US Inc.-Sprint Corp. merger. The chairman circulated a draft order for the FCC to sign off on the deal should the full commission approve the order.

* Microsoft Corp. admitted to using staffers and hired contractors to collect users' voice data to offer voice-enabled services for Skype and Cortana, Reuters reports, citing an emailed statement from a company representative. The company updated its privacy policy to add "greater clarity" and plans to examine further opportunities to improve, the spokesperson said.


* T-Mobile and Sprint are initiating settlement talks with a group of state attorneys general who have sued to block the potential merger between the companies, FOX Business reports, citing sources with knowledge of the matter. While the move is still in its early stages, officials at the two companies have started considering possible settlement ideas both internally and with the state AGs, sources said.

* T-Mobile and AT&T Inc. are offering cross-network call authentication to their customers as part of an ongoing effort to reduce unwanted calls. The newly implemented SHAKEN/STIR technology helps customers verify whether an incoming call is coming from the number listed on the caller ID display or is a spoofed robocall or scammer.

Internet & streaming

* Members of the U.S. Congress expressed the need for new laws to protect users' personal data from technology companies and to hold them accountable for violating users' privacy, Bloomberg News reports. The call for regulation came amid confirmation that Facebook Inc. used outside contractors to transcribe audio clips of its users' conversations.

* Facebook will be limiting groups' privacy setting options to either public or private, in a move to offer a better understanding of the accounts' visibility. Previously, administrators of Facebook groups could choose to have a public, closed or secret group, according to a company statement.

* CenturyLink Inc. agreed to a $550,000 settlement with the FCC related to unauthorized third-party charges and fees on consumers' bills. During its investigation, the FCC Enforcement Bureau reviewed complaints from CenturyLink customers who said they found unauthorized third-party charges on their bills and had difficulty getting timely refunds in some cases.

* In more Facebook news, the company introduced two new ad offerings to make it easier for people to find the movies they want to see. The movie reminder ads will run on users' feeds when a movie of interest is about to premiere in the theaters, while the movie showtime ads will provide users with information on show times and other details, according to a company news release.

* Amazon Prime Video suffered a partial outage worldwide, reports. The Inc.-owned service said it was "experiencing technical difficulties."

TV & programming

* AMC Networks Inc. is integrating AMC Studios into its Entertainment Networks Group unit, according to a news release. As a result, David Madden, president of programming for the Entertainment Networks and AMC Studios, will step down from the position later this month.

* CBS (US) is pacing ahead of last year for advertising sales against National Football League programming, buoyed by increased spending from insurance and big technology companies. John Bogusz, executive vice president of sports sales and marketing, said in an interview at the NFL on CBS Media Day that the company's sell-through level exceeded where it was at this stage a year ago.

* Consolidated Communications Holdings Inc. rolled out a television service in its Ancram and Austerlitz, N.Y., service areas over its new Fiber-to-the-Premises 1 Gig network. The TV service will let customers access national and local channels, along with regional sports networks, via a variety of triple-play packages and options.


* Lenovo Group Ltd. may increase retail prices for its products like PC and smartphones in response to an increase in U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods, Lenovo Chairman Yang Yuanqing said during the company's earning call. Yuanqing added that moving manufacturing out of China to avoid U.S. tariffs would also lead to higher prices, Reuters reports.

* VMware Inc. is exploring a potential acquisition of cloud-native platform provider Pivotal Software Inc. Under the proposed transaction, VMware would acquire all outstanding shares of Pivotal's Class A common stock for $15.00 per share in cash.

* Funds advised by BC Partners agreed to buy North American IT solutions provider Presidio Inc. in an all-cash deal worth about $2.1 billion. The purchase price of $16 per common share represents a 21.3% premium to Presidio's closing stock price of $13.19 on Aug. 13.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, Hang Seng rose 0.76% to 25,495.46, while the Nikkei 225 fell 1.21% to 20,405.65.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 fell 1.54% to 7,037.60, and the Euronext 100 dropped 1.36% to 1,010.86.

On the macro front

The jobless claims report, the Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook survey, the retail sales report, the Empire State manufacturing survey, the productivity and costs report, the industrial production report, the business inventories report, the housing market index, the EIA natural gas report, the treasury international capital report, the Fed balance sheet and the money supply 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's NYSE delisting; Huawei, talks; Facebook data handling: British Telecom is planning to delist its American depositary shares from the NYSE, while Russia's Group Ltd. is in talks to pre-install its software on Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. devices.

The Daily Dose Asia-Pacific: ByteDance's search engine; T-Mobile/Sprint deal update; Alibaba's system-on-chip: Beijing Byte Dance Telecommunications Co. Ltd. will not roll out its recently launched search engine beyond China, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission formally recommended the approval of the proposed T-Mobile-Sprint merger, and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is developing a system-on-chip for its X-Dragon cloud server.

SonyLIV expands to Middle East; Netflix, OSN part ways; FA Player nears launch: Subscription VOD service SonyLIV launched in several Middle Eastern markets; Netflix Inc. ended its partnership with pay TV operator OSN; and England's Football Association is close to launching streaming service FA Player for women's soccer.

Flipkart to enter video streaming market; TikTok owner launches search engine: Flipkart Online Services Pvt. Ltd. plans to launch its own video streaming service in India, while the creator of video app TikTok rolled out a search engine in China.

Featured research

Economics of TV & Film: Netflix misses Q2 sub targets, loses domestic subs: Netflix reported in July that domestic streaming subscribers declined for the first time since the third quarter of 2011 when it began separately reporting DVD and streaming subscribers.

Economics of TV & Film: Paramount Pictures one of crown jewels in CBS acquisition of Viacom: In the CBS Corp./Viacom Inc. deal, much of the press has focused on the dismal performance of Viacom's cable networks, but one of the best-kept secrets in the pending acquisition may be a turnaround of Paramount Pictures or bringing new money into the studio.

Economics of Networks: Cable net valuation benchmarks hit recent low in CBS-Viacom deal: CBS' proposed acquisition of Viacom was big in dollars but low in valuation benchmarks. The 6.5x multiple comes in low for cable networks.

Multichannel Trends: Q2 traditional video loss hits 1.5 million; virtual gains temper to 1.3 million: Customer defections drove a loss of 1.5 million traditional multichannel subscriptions in the second quarter. The erosion was slightly tempered by gains from virtual multichannel options, which checked the rate of decline to a 1.4% sequential drop.

Multichannel Trends: Q2'19 wireline broadband growth slows; residential subs near 99 million: U.S. broadband growth slowed in the seasonally sluggish second quarter as wireline provider net adds decelerated in comparison to the year-ago period with 390,000 total new subs and 339,000 residential net adds, according to Kagan estimates.

Multichannel Trends: Q2'19 top cable MSO table: video, HSD, voice subscribers: Kagan's second-quarter 2019 top cable MSO table is now live and can be downloaded in Excel format.

Technology: Q2'19 Apple review: Mac, wearables provide a modest revenue boost for Apple: Apple's diverse product array helped offset another decline in iPhone shipments.

Technology: Console gaming revenue drops in Q2'19 with new hardware on horizon: Kagan's first quarterly analysis of global console hardware, software and services revenue finds the industry down 4.0% year over year to $8.38 billion.

Global Multichannel: Global market update — Puerto Rico: Kagan has recently updated Global Multichannel and Broadband analyses for Puerto Rico, as well as analyses for related operators DIRECTV Puerto Rico, Liberty Puerto Rico and Claro Puerto Rico.

Recent earnings

Execs: Univision to increase 2020 subscriber fees on recent carriage renewals: Univision Communications Inc. executives on an Aug. 14 earnings call reiterated the divestiture pitch for the Spanish-language media company and pointed to the September launch of a new soccer service for authenticated subscribers.

Cisco's fiscal Q4 adjusted EPS beats estimates: Cisco Systems Inc.'s non-GAAP EPS for the quarter that ended July 27 amounted to 83 cents. The company forecast non-GAAP EPS in the range of 80 cents to 82 cents for the fiscal 2020 first quarter.

Tencent Q2'19 revenue bolstered by gaming segment recovery: The Chinese internet company reported a 21% year-over-year growth in revenue in the June quarter, with CEO Pony Ma saying the company is "quite happy" with how its smartphone games segment has recovered from a tightening of local regulations.

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