* ViacomCBS Inc. renewed its content carriage agreement with Comcast Corp. for 23 CBS (US)-owned television stations in 15 major markets across the U.S. The parties also struck a deal to offer CBS' streaming service, CBS All Access, on Xfinity X1 and Flex platforms later this year.
* Apple Inc. recorded $1.42 billion in sales from the App Store between Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve 2019 and $386 million on New Year's Day alone, according to an official blog post. The company also disclosed that its Apple News service crossed 100 million monthly active users in the U.S., the U.K., Australia and Canada.
* Discovery Inc. is looking to work with legacy distributors in delivering direct-to-consumer streaming content via their broadband pipes. CEO David Zaslav told investors at an industry conference that the content provider is having "meaningful discussions" with its existing affiliate base as it eyes more direct-to-consumer opportunities.
Film & TV
* Sony Corp. agreed to sell its three entertainment channels to former Sony Pictures Television Inc. executives Andy Kaplan and George Chien, Variety reports. The channels included in the transaction are Sony's AXN-branded channels in Southeast Asia, Animax and South Korea's Sony One entertainment channel.
* NBCUniversal Media LLC is working to form a single platform for marketers to run media plans across its TV and digital properties, and across local, national and global markets, The Wall Street Journal reports. Under this platform, the company will combine current and new tools for advertisers to plan, schedule, optimize and measure video ad campaigns.
* AT&T Inc. is pulling the plug on Audience Network this spring, Variety reports. The soon-to-be-shuttered network will become a preview channel for Warner Media LLC's upcoming streaming service, HBO Max, according to the report.
Internet & OTT
* Twitter Inc. will soon let users limit the group of people that can reply to their tweets, TheVerge.com reports. Speaking at CES 2020, Twitter's director of product management, Suzanne Xie, said the company is currently conducting research on the feature, which will have four options, global, group, panel and statement.
* Verizon Communications Inc. is planning to expand its Yahoo Sports betting venture to five more states this year, Bloomberg News reports. Verizon teamed up with MGM Resorts International to enter sports betting through its Yahoo Sports property.
* Verizon rolled out a new service, called Mix & Match on Fios, to let users bundle internet and TV plans. Fios Internet options start at $39.99 per month, the company said.
* Days after Facebook Inc. announced an update to its policy against "deepfakes" and "manipulated media," lawmakers pressed a company executive on its approach to combating misinformation.
* Facebook and eBay Inc. responded to a request from the U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority to tackle fake and misleading reviews on their platforms. Facebook removed 188 groups and disabled 24 user accounts, while eBay permanently banned 140 users, according to a news release.
* Cinedigm Corp. teamed up with U.K.-based television production and distribution company All3media International Ltd. to launch two new free ad-based video-on-demand services, "So…Dramatic" and "So…Real."
* The U.S. made a final pitch to the U.K. ahead of the latter's upcoming decision on whether to include Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. in its 5G network build out, Reuters reports, citing sources. A spokesman for Huawei said British lawmakers confirmed that the Chinese company's equipment will not be deployed in networks used for intelligence sharing.
* Executives from Apple, Facebook and The Procter & Gamble Co. defended their respective companies' privacy practices at a CES roundtable focused on consumer privacy concerns.
* With big M&A likely off the table, some industry observers expect U.S. tech firms to use their cash to get ahead of looming regulatory penalties and also to bolster their respective businesses in growth areas such as 5G and cloud computing.
* Upcoming mobile entertainment video app Quibi Holdings LLC unveiled its product at CES 2020, outlining its new proprietary tech, a range of partnerships, a launch date, ad sales and content plans.
* Sprint Corp. will integrate Wirecard AG's unified commerce service into its Curiosity internet of things platform to deliver an "internet of payments" service. As part of the partnership, Sprint and Wirecard will collaborate to embed payment capabilities in IoT deployments.
* IAC/InterActiveCorp sold a majority stake in comedy website CollegeHumor to the latter's Chief Creative Officer Sam Reich, the executive confirmed in a series of tweets. The newly formed CH Media also laid off more than 100 people as part of a restructuring initiative.
* The U.S. Senate Standing Committee scheduled a hearing Jan. 15 into artificial intelligence and other high-tech industries, Multichannel News reports. The committee will seek input at the hearing on how the U.S. can maintain its edge in AI.
The day ahead
Early morning futures indicators pointed to a higher opening for the U.S. market.
In Asia, the Hang Seng increased by 1.68% to 28,561.00, while the Nikkei 225 was up 2.31% to 23,739.87.
In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 increased by 0.55% to 7,616.24, and the Euronext 100 increased by 0.49% to 1,161.09.
On the macro front
The jobless claims report, the EIA natural gas 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.
* The Daily Dose Europe: Orange units' potential IPO; Facebook, eBay's action on reviews; UK on Huawei: Orange SA continues to assess a potential IPO of its Middle Eastern and African operations, Facebook and eBay tackle fake and misleading reviews, and US reaches out to U.K. prior to the British government's decision on using Huawei.
* The Daily Dose Asia-Pacific: Facebook's China ad sales push; Sony channels sale; Tencent's gaming investment: Facebook is forming a team in Singapore that will create ad-buying tools for China, Sony will sell three entertainment channels to former executives, and Tencent Holdings Ltd. invested an undisclosed sum in Japan's PlatinumGames.
Broadcast Investor: Broadcast TV guide to 2020 US elections: Record political ad revenue is expected to be spent during the 2020 election as crowded presidential primaries and a surplus of fundraising has candidates ready to barrage voters with TV ads in the crucial toss-up states.
Economics of Advertising: Music networks increase average ratings in November 2019: In November 2019, seven out of nine non-Nielsen Holdings PLC-rated music channels logged coverage rating declines year over year. Average ratings for the group, however, grew 1.1% based on Comscore Inc.'s TV Essentials data.
Economics of TV & Film: New streaming services look to shake up distributor revenue mix: The business of motion picture distribution is entering another interesting period as major distributors take a direct-to-consumer approach, trying to capitalize on the success of services such as Netflix Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Hulu LLC.
Global Multichannel: Australian fiber set for long-term gains: Since overtaking DSL as the dominant fixed broadband platform in Australia, NBN Co Ltd.-led fiber deployments are continuing to reach more households across the market and gaining increased shares.
Economics of Internet: Hulu shines ahead of Apple TV+ and Disney launches: The third quarter of 2019 marked the calm before the storm of both Apple TV+ and Disney+ launching in November 2019, with largely positive results as far as U.S. viewing gains for a variety of subscription video and ad-supported video services.
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