* Nexstar Media Group Inc. is selling 19 television stations in 15 markets for $1.32 billion in cash following the acquisition of Tribune Media Co. by Nexstar. Under the agreements, TEGNA Inc. will buy 11 stations in eight markets for $740 million, while E.W. Scripps Co. will acquire eight stations in seven markets for $580 million. Separately, Nexstar remains engaged in active talks to sell two stations in Indianapolis, the company said.
* Walt Disney Co. has closed the acquisition of 21st Century Fox Inc. at 12:02 a.m. ET on March 20. Disney's acquisition includes 21st Century Fox's movie and television studios, the FX Networks and National Geographic Partners and its 22 regional sports networks.
* Google LLC is launching a new cloud-based game streaming platform called Stadia. The service, first unveiled by Google CEO Sundar Pichai at the company's March 19 Game Developers Conference keynote, will allow players to stream games via the Chrome browser on a range of devices, including desktops, laptops, and select phones and tablets. The games will be streamed from Google's globally connected network of data centers, eliminating the need for the player to use dedicated hardware such as traditional video game consoles or PCs.
* Apple Inc. spent $74.25 billion on share repurchases in 2018, more than all companies in six separate industries tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence. Ahead of Apple's March quarter results, some question how long that pace can last.
Film & TV
* AT&T Inc. and Viacom Inc. have locked horns over a carriage deal for DIRECTV, Variety reports. Viacom has started warning customers about its channels going dark for DIRECTV subscribers when the existing contract expires at midnight on March 22. While a Viacom spokesman accused AT&T of seeking higher prices and discriminating against "diverse audiences" with channel selections for new DIRECTV NOW packages, AT&T called Viacom a "serial bad actor" in these business talks.
* Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. has established an interim leadership team after Kevin Tsujihara resigned as chairman and CEO, Variety reports, citing people with knowledge of the matter. The new leadership team will include Warner Bros. CFO Kim Williams, Warner Bros. Motion Pictures Group Chairman Toby Emmerich and Warner Bros. Television Group President and Chief Content Officer Peter Roth, according to the report.
Internet & OTT
* After years of criticism, Facebook Inc. has agreed to make changes to its targeting policies for housing, employment and credit ads. The company made the changes in response to concerns by the National Fair Housing Alliance, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Communication Workers of America and other private parties, which filed litigation against Facebook citing the need to build "stronger protections against abuse."
* Instagram Inc. unveiled a Checkout feature that allows users to buy a product from brands without leaving the social networking platform. The Checkout on Instagram button on the product page allows users to select from various options and then proceed to payment without leaving Instagram, according to an official blog post.
* Netflix Inc. picked up "The Queen's Gambit," a limited series based on a novel of the same name from Walter Tevis. The series follows Beth Harmon, an orphan chess prodigy, who struggles with addiction in a quest to become the greatest chess player in the world, the company said.
* Netflix green-lighted "Battle Kitty," an original animated interactive series. The series allows kids to join Kitty on a quest to defeat all the monsters on Battle Island and be crowned a champion, the company said.
* NVIDIA Corp. is chasing autonomous cars to drive revenue as the company tries to break into new markets and shift from its decadeslong reliance on computer graphics. The chipmaker on March 18 said it struck a deal to widen its partnership with Toyota Motor Corp. to design and validate self-driving car technology.
* Chief revenue officer of virtual reality hardware company HaptX Inc., Joe Michaels, believes the most certain VR outlook is the shift to spatial computing for enterprise applications, representing an opportunity as big as the internet itself.
* Charter Communications Inc. has started offering $62.5 million in direct refunds to New York customers as part of a consumer fraud settlement with the New York attorney general's office, Multichannel News reports. Affected consumers throughout the state started receiving credits on their March bills of between $75 and $150, according to the report.
The day ahead
Early morning futures indicators pointed to a lower opening for the U.S. market.
In Asia, Hang Seng declined 0.49% to 29,320.97, while the Nikkei 225 gained 0.20% to 21,608.92. In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 fell 0.14% to 7,313.56, and the Euronext 100 dropped 0.28% to 1,050.20.
On the macro front
The EIA petroleum status report is 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: Consortium eyes UK's Inmarsat; Google to launch cloud-based gaming platform: A consortium led by private equity firms Apax Partners LLP and Warburg Pincus International LLC are in talks to acquire satellite operator Inmarsat PLC, while Google will launch a new cloud-based gaming platform in select countries including the U.K. and much of Europe.
The Program Guide: 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' coming to Netflix; Amazon picks up third season of 'American Gods': Netflix will adapt Gabriel García Márquez's "One Hundred Years of Solitude" novel as a Spanish language original series, while Amazon picked up the third season of drama series "American Gods."
The Daily Dose Asia-Pacific: ByteDance forming live streaming platform; Philippines rejects Go-Jek's appeal: Beijing Byte Dance Telecommunications Co. Ltd. is building a live streaming platform to expand sources of income outside advertising, while Philippines denied the appeal of ride-hailing app PT Go-Jek Indonesia to operate in the country due to its failure to meet local ownership criteria.
Analysts: Spotify, YouTube face tough competition, low ARPU in India: International music streaming giants Spotify Technology SA and YouTube LLC face a heavily entrenched market in India, where increasing average revenues per user will be tough, analysts say.
Data Dispatch: Chinese TMT companies increasingly opt for Hong Kong listings: The number of Chinese technology, media and telecom companies choosing to list in Hong Kong is on the rise, and experts say this is due to the city's newly adopted listing rules, optimistic valuations and low legal risks.
Global Multichannel: Latin America M&A: Millicom expands dominance in Central America: Central America was home to 12 out of Latin America's 17 deals since end-2017. Regulator decisions on AT&T-Warner, Disney-Fox and spectrum caps push sales of SKY Brasil, Fox Sports networks and Nextel.
Technology: Q4'18 CCAP channel shipments cool, revenue recedes: Global shipments of total DOCSIS and video quadrature amplitude modulation channels lagged in the fourth quarter of 2018. The lower spending followed a recent surge in bandwidth increases.
Global Multichannel: Fiber to generate 27% of Colombian residential fixed-broadband revenues by 2028: Demand for high-speed plans will accelerate fiber and cable fixed-broadband adoption. By year-end 2018, the Colombian residential broadband addressable market was estimated at 7.5 million households, with 1.2 million not subscribed.
Multichannel Trends: Cable shares with wind at their backs as Q4'18 results validate bullishness: The top five public MSOs traded at a weighted average 8.8x projected forward cash flow on March 18, or 85% of estimated private market value.
Technology: Q4'18 Apple review: Challenges in China lead to a rare miss for Apple: Apple cited macroeconomic factors and fewer-than-expected iPhone upgrades as reasons for the lackluster 2018 fourth quarter as shipments across all Apple product lines declined.
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