* Comcast Corp.'s NBCUniversal Media LLC will enter the direct-to-consumer streaming arena early in 2020 with a hybrid, ad-supported offering. The service will draw from NBCU's content libraries, including original and licensed fare. About 52 million Comcast Cable customers in the U.S. and Sky PLC customers abroad will be able to access the yet-to-be-named service at no cost, while an ad-free version will be available for a fee.
* The U.S. Department of Justice may let Walt Disney Co. spin off 21st Century Fox Inc.'s 22 regional sports networks instead of selling them to win regulatory approval for its Fox deal, the New York Post reports, citing sources with knowledge of the matter. Disney could relinquish the control of the RSNs or "spin it out to a separate board with a partial public company," one source said. The news comes as Disney has been having a hard time selling the RSNs.
* Confirmation hearings will be held Jan. 15-16 for William Barr to be U.S. attorney general. Barr has agreed to recuse himself from the DOJ's appeal to the AT&T Inc.-Time Warner Inc. merger.
* Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. struck a licensing agreement of up to $1.1 billion with the National Basketball Association and its players' union, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing a person with knowledge of the matter. Under the agreement, Take-Two's 2K studio will continue making its NBA 2K videogame franchise and other NBA-branded games, including smartphone apps. The agreement is expected to be announced today.
* T-Mobile US Inc. has deployed its 5G service in 30 cities across the U.S., the carrier confirmed to Light Reading. The company has not yet introduced commercial services on the 5G network since it is waiting for 5G smartphones to become available.
* Rovi Corp. escalated its legal battle with Comcast with a new lawsuit, Multichannel News reports, citing a company statement. The filing with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California covers the TiVo Corp. unit's patents related to DVR functions, including cloud or network recording, and whole-home DVR arrangements. Comcast said in a statement that will defend itself against the "meritless" allegations.
* United Airlines Inc. promotional materials cited by the New York Post revealed that Apple Inc. bought 50 business class flights from San Francisco to Shanghai each day. Apple reportedly spent an estimated $150 million a year with the airline company, with the other most-popular destinations being Hong Kong, Taiwan and London.
* Apple won the dismissal of a patent lawsuit filed by QUALCOMM Inc. in Germany, Reuters reports. While dismissing the suit, the regional court in the city of Mannheim said the patent in question was not violated by the installation of its chips in Apple's iPhones. Earlier this month, Qualcomm posted security bonds totaling €1.34 billion to enforce a permanent injunction against iPhones in Germany.
Internet & OTT
* DISH Network Corp.'s Sling TV will let people who have never subscribed to the streaming service watch television shows and movies for free, without requiring a subscription, TechCrunch.com reports. New customers will be able to browse and watch content in the My TV section of the app by clicking "Browse as Guest." Users can subscribe to access more content.
* Facebook Inc. will invest $300 million in local news over the next three years. The investment will focus on news programs, partnerships and content, Campbell Brown, vice president of Global News Partnerships at the social networking giant said in an official blog post.
* Altice USA Inc. appointed Matt Grover executive vice president and head of Altice Business Services, the company's commercial services division. In this role, Grover will oversee all Altice USA commercial products and services, according to a news release.
* Wells Fargo Securities LLC ranked as the top adviser on debt offerings in the media sector by aggregate deal credit, with about $6.25 billion from 22 offerings, much of which were issued by Comcast, according to data compiled by S&P Global Market Intelligence. Much of that business came from Comcast: Wells Fargo served as an underwriter on 15 Comcast debt offerings in 2018, most of which were issued to finance the media conglomerate's acquisition of Sky.
The day ahead
Early morning futures indicators pointed to a higher opening for the U.S. market.
In Asia, Hang Seng increased 2.02% to 26,830.289, while the Nikkei 225 rose 0.96% to 20,555.29.
In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 increased 0.022% to 6,856.51 and the Euronext 100 was up 0.42% to 933.19.
On the macro front
The PPI-FD index, Empire State Mfg Survey and Redbook index 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: Telecom Italia bids to acquire BT Italia; Zegona to up stake in Euskaltel: Telecom Italia SpA submitted an offer to acquire BT Italia S.p.A., while Zegona Communications PLC plans to increase its Euskaltel SA stake by up to 12.5%.
The Daily Dose Asia-Pacific: China sentences Canadian to death amid Huawei row; Airtel in talks to buy Telkom: A Chinese court sentenced a Canadian citizen to death in a case that has been linked to Canada's detention of Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. CFO Meng Wanzhou, while Bharti Airtel Ltd. is in talks to buy Telkom Kenya Ltd.
Discovery buys majority stake in Play Sports Group; Vast Broadband to buy NTS: Discovery Inc. acquired a 71% controlling stake in Play Sports Group, a digital sports media company, while Vast Broadband entered into a definitive agreement to acquire broadband fiber company NTS Communications Inc.
The week in OTT: Amazon launches Freedive; Hulu crosses 25 million subs: Amazon.com Inc. also is lining up a deal with Al Pacino for the upcoming drama series "The Hunt," while Netflix Inc. scored five wins at the 76th Golden Globe Awards.
M&A Replay: European deals: Discovery buys Play Sports Group; PPF Group drops NOVA purchase: U.S. media giant Discovery acquired a majority stake in digital sports media company Play Sports Group, while Czech investment company PPF Group NV dropped its planned acquisition of Bulgaria's NOVA Broadcasting Group AD from Modern Times Group.
Global Multichannel: M&A: A New Year Resolution for the South Korean Multichannel Market?: The South Korean multichannel market should see a year of upheaval as the three incumbent telcos look to acquire some of their cable competitors to accelerate growth in 2019.
Multichannel Trends: Broadband-only formula household hit in 5-year forecast: Kagan projects the segment of wireline broadband homes without a traditional multichannel subscription to grow at an 11.9% CAGR through 2023.
Economics of Internet: Over-the-top in the Middle East and Africa: Current State of the Market: Kagan rounds up select over-the-top services in the Middle East and Africa that have been recently updated in our OTT Services & Devices database.
The Best Of: Kagan research and analysis, editor's picks: Presenting the editor's top picks from Kagan's exclusive research and analysis for the week ended Jan. 11.
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