Netflix Revenue Grows Bigger As Streaming TV War Looms

Netflix logo is seen on the backdrop of Netflix’s “Stranger Things 3” premiere at Santa Monica high school Barnum Hall in Santa Monica, California. Chris Delmas / AFP

 

Netflix shares rallied Wednesday after its latest quarterly update showed robust subscriber growth and better-than-expected profits ahead of a major escalation in the streaming television war.

Netflix reported a net income of $665 million in the recently ended quarter, jumping up from $403 million in the same period last year and topping most analyst forecasts.

Revenue and subscriber growth, however, came in just shy of market consensus. The California-based company saw revenue up 31 percent at $5.25 billion and added 6.8 million subscribers worldwide to reach a total of 158.3 million.

Netflix shares climbed more than 10 percent after-market trades.

The company, whose recent hits include “Stranger Things” and “The Crown,” was upbeat on its ability to thrive even as powerful competitors such as Disney and Apple enter the streaming market in November.

When Netflix began streaming television to subscribers online some 12 years ago — in a pivot from just lending video discs through the mail — it was essentially Amazon Prime, Hulu, YouTube and Netflix itself competing with traditional television, chief executive Reed Hastings said in an earnings broadcast.

And all of the streaming rivals will still find their main competition in broadcast TV, according to Hastings, who was confident Netflix would thrive through compelling original shows.

“We see both Apple and Disney launching essentially the same week after 12 years of not being in the market,” Hastings said.

“Fundamentally, it is more of the same. Disney will be a great competitor; Apple is just beginning but, you know, they will probably have some great shows too.”

Clouds loom? 

But eMarketer analyst Eric Haggstrom said the latest report includes signs of trouble ahead for the market leader, which fell short of its subscriber targets.

“The fourth quarter represents a completely new ballgame for Netflix as Disney+ and Apple TV+ will compete not just for subscribers, but for hit shows as well,” Haggstrom said.

“The fact that Netflix has shown disappointing growth without the new competition present is a negative omen for Netflix in 2020 and beyond.”

And more competition looms on the horizon, as AT&T’s WarnerMedia will launch its new Netflix rival “HBO Max” in early 2020 after reclaiming the rights from Netflix to stream its popular television comedy “Friends.”

Netflix slightly trimmed its forecast for subscriber growth, saying it expected the count to be up 26.7 million at the end of this year, but that its positive outlook for the future remained firm.

It cited factors such as uncertainty about new viewers, response to price changes and forthcoming competition.

The third quarter’s rise in revenue also means Netflix could invest to improve the service and make more original shows to battle competition in markets around the world.

“We have been moving increasingly to original content both because of the anticipated pullback of second run content from some studios and because our original content is working in the form of member viewing and engagement,” Netflix said.

“We’re expanding our non-English language original offerings because they continue to help grow our penetration in international markets.”

Netflix has released originally produced local language shows in 17 countries and has plans to expand to 30, according to chief content officer Ted Sarandos.

Netflix’s original films released in the recently ended quarter included “solid hits” such as “Secret Obsession,” starring Brenda Song, and “Otherhood,” directed by Cindy Chupack.

Netflix-backed films set for release this quarter include Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman,” with actors Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci, and “Marriage Story,” starring Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver.

“Amazing content can be expensive,” Netflix said.

“We don’t shy away from taking bold swings if we think the business impact will also be amazing.”

Netflix said it would spend about $15 billion in cash on content this year, with the majority of that money devoted to producing original shows.

Netflix also sees its technology platform as an advantage, enabling it to stream to people on all kinds of devices and to mine mountains of data to feed users recommendations about what to watch next — and to give producers insights about what audiences like.

Hastings reasoned that with Facebook and YouTube boasting billions of active users, and billions of mobile phones users who can stream shows from the internet, there is a huge market for Netflix and its rivals to share.

AFP

Netflix Announces Fourth Season Of Hit Show ‘Stranger Things’

 French former basketball player Tony Parker (2nd L) and his wife Axelle Francine pose during a photocall for the premiere of season 3 of the Netflix series “Stranger Things”, at the Grand Rex movie theatre in Paris.  Martin BUREAU / AFP

 

Netflix announced Monday a fourth season of retro sci-fi show “Stranger Things,” the site’s most successful original production, as it bids to fend off intense competition from other streaming platforms.

The video subscription service added that it had entered into a multi-year deal with the hit series’ creators, Matt and Ross Duffer, to work on unspecified film and series projects.

“Stranger Things,” a nostalgic 1980s drama about a gang of suburban adolescents battling supernatural monsters, became an instant hit for Netflix when it was launched in 2016.

The third season smashed the platform’s global viewing records in July when 40.7 million accounts viewed it in its first four days of airing.

The finale to the third season left the door firmly open for a sequel.

Netflix announced the fourth series by tweeting a video along with the tag line “We’re not in Hawkins anymore,” a reference to the fictional Indiana town where the story began.

The tweet appears to suggest that the monsters in the show now live somewhere else, as hinted at the end of season three.

The Duffer brothers were virtually unknown when Netflix commissioned their idea about teenagers confronting supernatural creatures and a parallel universe in a smalltown American.

“We can’t wait to see what The Duffer Brothers have in store when they step outside the world of The Upside Down,” said Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos, referring to the alternative universe in “Stranger Things.”

He did not give any further details about their future productions in the press release.

Netflix is the market leader in global television and film streaming, with over 140 million paying accounts worldwide.

It is accelerating its content production as Apple, Disney, WarnerMedia and NBCUniversal launch their own streaming platforms.

AFP

Netflix, Apple Cross Swords In Indian Streaming Market

 

 

Competition in India’s booming streaming market is heating up as Netflix joins forces with a director of Bollywood feel-good blockbusters and Apple launches its TV platform for 99 rupees ($1.39) a month.

Netflix announced late Wednesday a long-term partnership with Karan Johar’s Dharmatic Entertainment to make a range of new fiction and non-fiction series and films for the platform.

Johar has directed eight films including “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai” with Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan, and “Raazi”, nominated for best picture at next week’s Indian International Film Academy (IIFA) Awards, dubbed the Bollywood Oscars.

“It’s going to be P.H.A.T — pretty hot and tempting,” said Johar, whose Dharma Entertainment is one of India’s biggest production firms and which already teamed up with Netflix for the successful “Lust Stories” anthology.

READ ALSO: Rihanna Stages Savage X Fenty Show At New York Fashion Week

Netflix launched in India in 2016 and two of its Indian-made series have won critical acclaim — “Sacred Games” starring Saif Ali Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and “Leila” with Huma Qureishi.

But Netflix faces stiff competition in Asia’s third-largest economy as Amazon’s Prime Video, Disney’s Hotstar, Alt Balaji and other local platforms jostle for digital subscriptions and eyeballs.

US technology giant Apple on Wednesday announced the launch of its streaming platform Apple TV+ in India, hoping to upend competition.

Netflix is available in India from 199 rupees a month and as millions of first-time users access internet in Asia’s third-largest economy, analysts expect competition to intensify.

India’s video-streaming industry is expected to grow at nearly 22 percent per annum to 119 billion rupees ($1.7 billion) by 2023 according to consultancy PwC, Bloomberg News reported.

Netflix chief Reed Hastings has said the company’s goal is 100 million customers in India — almost 25 times its estimated subscriber base there as of this year, Bloomberg said.

Netflix Removes Graphic Suicide Scene From TV Series ’13 Reasons Why’

The Netflix logo is seen on a phone in this photo illustration in Washington, DC, on July 10, 2019.
Alastair Pike / AFP

 

Netflix has removed a graphic suicide scene from season one of the hit show “13 Reasons Why” following concern from mental health experts who fear it glorifies suicide.

The move comes two years after the launch of the show, which follows the story of high school student Hannah Baker who takes her own life.

While praised for raising issues such as bullying and self-harm, the show had come under criticism from schools and psychologists worried it could trigger copycat suicides among young people struggling with mental health issues.

“As we prepare to launch season three later this summer, we’ve been mindful about the ongoing debate around the show,” Netflix said on Twitter late Monday.

“So on the advice of medical experts, including Dr. Christine Moutier, chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, we’ve decided with creator Brian Yorkey and the producers to edit the scene in which Hannah takes her own life from season one.”

Producer Yorkey said the graphic suicide scene was intended to show “the horror of such an act, and make sure no one would ever wish to emulate it.”

“No one scene is more important than the life of the show, and its message that we must take better care of each other,” he said in a statement on Twitter.

“We believe this edit will help the show do the most good for the most people while mitigating any risk for especially vulnerable young viewers.”

Netflix said the show had encouraged discussion about mental health issues.

“We’ve heard from many young people that 13 Reasons Why encouraged them to start conversations about difficult issues like depression and suicide and get help — often for the first time,” it said.

Two studies published in May found that suicides among US youths rose significantly in the months following the popular show’s release.

A study commissioned by Netflix and carried out by Northwestern University last year found that a majority of teens said the show helped them understand depression better and empathize with victims of bullying.

AFP

Netflix Chief Set To Leave Facebook’s Board Of Directors

 

Netflix chief Reed Hastings will depart Facebook’s board of directors at the end of next month, according to a Friday filing with US regulators by the leading social network.

Neither Hastings nor businessman and political figure Erskine Bowles, who have been on the board since 2011, will be nominated for re-election at an annual shareholders meeting on May 30, Facebook said in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Hastings’ departure comes as the social network prioritizes services such as live streaming and on-demand video that compete with Netflix.

Facebook said it had nominated PayPal core markets senior vice president Peggy Alford to join its board, making the tech industry veteran the first African-American woman to join its ranks.

“Peggy is one of those rare people who’s an expert across many different areas — from business management to finance operations to product development,” Facebook co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said in the filing.

“I know she will have great ideas that help us address both the opportunities and challenges facing our company.”

Facebook’s board members include Zuckerberg, investor Marc Andreessen, chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, and Peter Thiel of the Founders Fund.

“What excites me about the opportunity to join Facebook’s board is the company’s drive and desire to face hard issues head-on while continuing to improve on the amazing connection experiences they have built over the years,” Alford said in the filing.

Facebook has been grappling with questions over its handling of personal data of its more than two billion users and protects against — as well as concerns the social network is used to spread misinformation and abuse.

AFP

Real-Life Teen Drug King Inspired New Netflix Series

Real-Life Teen Drug King Inspired New Netflix Series
Actors of the TV show “How to sell drugs online (Fast)” pose during the 2019 Cannes International Series festival, in Cannes on April 6, 2019. VALERY HACHE / AFP

 

A new Netflix series billed as the teenage “Breaking Bad” is inspired by a real-life German youth who ran an online drug empire from his bedroom, its creators told AFP.

The makers of “How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast)” even met up with Maximilian S. on one of his days out of prison where he is serving seven years for “running the Amazon of illegal drugs” — selling everything from MDMA to marijuana.

While his mother thought of him as a “lazy and grumpy” 19-year-old who wouldn’t leave his room, he made 4.4 million euros ($4.9 million) worth of Bitcoin in little over a year from his Shiny Flakes online store.

Police still couldn’t access all of his Bitcoin accounts when he was jailed in 2015.

“When you think of the drug business, you think of the Cali cartel and Pablo Escobar,” said the series’ makers Philipp Kassbohrer and Matthias Murmann on Sunday as the series was premiered at the Canneseries festival in the French Riviera resort.

“But this young German weirdo guy who was doing this himself was having a big effect on the European drug market.

‘Best dealer in Europe’

“He was the best dealer in Europe and he didn’t just do it in the Darknet (that part of the internet hidden from public view), he did it in the clearweb,” Murmann said.

“You could find his site on a normal browser. It had customer reviews and everything: ‘If you liked this drug, you might like to try this…'”

The young man they would later know as “Max” — who was treated as a juvenile by the courts — turned up one day at their offices when the series was still being shot after he heard his story had been picked up.

“We thought he was making it up. But it was him,” said Murmann, a self-confessed geek himself.

“He had to sleep in jail but he could travel around during the day. It was interesting to get his mindset,” and to find out how proud he was of the “customer experience”.

He even showed the director “how he arranged the MDMA in boxes. ‘No, I did it like this,’ he said. It as a real headspin for the actors,” Murmann recalled.

By that point, shooting had already begun of the show, which they had turned into a buddy story of a 17-year-old high school student who sets up a drugs site with his wheelchair-bound best friend to try to win back his girlfriend, who has returned for a year out in the US as pill-popping party animal.

‘He was a bit too smart’

“It was inspired rather than based on him because when we dug into his true story we found it was very short and boring,” Kassbohrer added.

“He was a little bit too smart. He only made one big mistake and that’s why he got arrested… but when he turned up, it was a weird bridge with reality.”

The pair, whose BTF studio makes late-night TV shows and computer games, used fast editing and smartphone-style pop-ups to recreate the superconnected lifestyles of Generation Z teenagers.

Kassbohrer said “Max” was like many of this age group, trying to make their mark but in his own terribly misguided way.

“He really is a nice guy but you cannot forget that he did something very criminal and he was connected to people who were doing even bigger criminal things.

“He didn’t think it through, he was just focusing on the user experience and the technical side,” Kassbohrer added.

In fact, he was so proud of his “customer experience” that he gave an interview to “a journalist friend of ours when he was still dealing and told her that he even had a customer services and marketing department, when it was just him in his room.”

He had that “Steve Jobs thing” of not fully thinking through the consequences, Kassbohrer said, “just like Jobs hadn’t worried about people dying in China to make iPhones.”

“How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast)” goes online on May 31.

AFP

Netflix Opens Toronto Film Festival

courtesy: http://www.reuters.com/

 

The Toronto International Film Festival launched on Thursday with a Netflix production – the first time any major movie showcase has opened on a release not intended for theatres.

Cannes, the world’s largest film festival, issued a decree earlier this year banning movies from competition that do not have a theatrical release in France.

But in an apparent rebuke, the 43rd TIFF opens with Netflix’s “Outlaw King,” which will be available only to subscribers of the streaming giant.

“We went with the best film we could find that really fit the scale that we want for opening night,” festival chief Cameron Bailey told AFP.

“It’s a big period epic, a really rousing story of Robert the Bruce – a contemporary of William Wallace who audiences might remember from ‘Braveheart,'” he said.

Filmed on location in Scotland, “Outlaw King” reunites director David Mackenzie with his “Hell or High Water” actor Chris Pine, who plays the 14th century Scottish king.

The epic story about Robert the Bruce’s struggle to regain control of Scotland after England declares him an outlaw also stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson – also at the festival in “A Million Little Pieces” — Florence Pugh and Billy Howle.

Netflix pulled all its films from consideration at Cannes after the ban was announced on its non-theatrical releases. Bailey said, however, TIFF was “fully behind the theatrical experience.”

“I think people are going to be thrilled to see films in the finest possible way you can present them which is in a great big old theatre, with incredible sound,” he said.

“But if the films come from a streaming service, that’s just fine,” he added.

 

More from Netflix

Bailey said online movie platforms such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu were “supporting some of the best talent around these days.”

“And we really value not only the theatrical experience but the ability of filmmakers to make the films they want to make. So whatever is going to get those films made, we are supportive of.”

It is not the first time a Netflix film has screened at TIFF. Dee Rees’s “Mudbound” and Angelina Jolie’s “First They Killed My Father” premiered in Toronto last year, and Netflix also picked up the rights to several other films at the festival.

This year TIFF will also screen Netflix’s “Roma” from “Gravity” director Alfonso Cuaron, as well as Paul Greengrass’s “22 July,” about Norway’s deadliest terror attack, and Jeremy Saulnier’s thriller “Hold the Dark.”

All are likely to bypass movie theatres.

“I cannot imagine a better place to have our world premiere,” Mackenzie said in a statement.

“Scotland and Canada’s histories are bound together, forged in the crucible of the struggles of history, bringing this day an affinity and sensibility that I hope will translate to a profound, visceral, and riotously entertaining experience,” he added.

More than 300 feature and short films from 74 countries — 31,300 minutes of film in total — will be screened at TIFF, the biggest film festival in North America, which runs through September 16.

Hot documentaries

They include Xavier Dolan’s much-anticipated English-language debut “The Death and Life of John F. Donovan,” Steve McQueen’s thriller “Widows,” starring Viola Davis, and Claire Denis’s “High Life” with Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche.

Michael Moore’s documentary “Fahrenheit 11/9” leads a hot documentary lineup that includes profiles of legendary music producer Quincy Jones, influential director Ingmar Bergman and soprano Maria Callas.

“The Elephant Queen” follows the journey of an elephant herd, while “The Truth About Killer Robots” is described as an “eye-opening work of science non-fiction.”

Drake pulled out at the last minute Thursday from introducing “Monsters and Men,” about a Brooklyn community rocked by the fatal police shooting of a black man.

It was a blow to his fans, but also for TIFF, which was forced earlier this week to nix one of its Gala Presentations, “Galveston,” because director Melanie Laurent could not make the screening, citing “work commitments.”

In past years, films such as “Spotlight,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” and “The King’s Speech” went on from winning the Toronto festival’s audience prize for best picture to take the top honor at the Oscars.

But many of the films positioned for accolades this year — including a remake of “A Star is Born” with Lady Gaga, Damien Chazelle’s “First Man” starring Ryan Gosling as astronaut Neil Armstrong, and the western “The Sisters Brothers” starring John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix — will have already premiered at the Venice or New York film festivals before they are screened in Toronto.

Barack And Michelle Obama Sign Netflix Production Deal

 

Barack and Michelle Obama have entered into a multi-year agreement to produce films and series with Netflix, the world’s leading internet entertainment service announced on Monday.

The former first couple have launched Higher Ground Productions to produce a variety of content for the video streamer, possibly including scripted series, documentaries and features.

“One of the simple joys of our time in public service was getting to meet so many fascinating people from all walks of life, and to help them share their experiences with a wider audience,” Obama, who served two terms in the White House from 2009, said in a statement.

“That’s why Michelle and I are so excited to partner with Netflix. We hope to cultivate and curate the talented, inspiring, creative voices who are able to promote greater empathy and understanding between peoples, and help them share their stories with the entire world.”

The Obamas already have a large social media presence — a combined 150 million followers on Twitter and Instagram — but the deal will see their influence boosted significantly by Netflix’s 125 million subscribers in 190 countries.

“Barack and Michelle Obama are among the world’s most respected and highly-recognized public figures and are uniquely positioned to discover and highlight stories of people who make a difference in their communities and strive to change the world for the better,” said Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos.

The statement didn’t discuss money, but their time in the White House has already begun to reap lucrative dividends for the Obamas, who negotiated book deals last year reportedly worth more than $60 million.

Former US first lady Michelle Obama attends the United State of Women Summit at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, on May 5, 2018. PHOTO: CHRIS DELMAS / AFP

 

A much-awaited memoir by Michelle Obama is due to be released on November 13, publisher Penguin Random House said in February, describing her as “one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era.”

The Obamas met while he was an intern and she his adviser at a Chicago law firm, and they were soon married. She became his closest confidante during his political rise.

Michelle used her influence as one of the world’s most high-profile public figures to advocate for the rights of women and girls and campaigned for Americans to live healthier lives.

The Obamas are not planning to use Netflix to counter President Donald Trump or other conservatives, but will focus instead on “storytelling to inspire us, to make us think differently about the world around us, and to help us open our minds and hearts to others,” the former first lady said.

AFP

‘The Crown’ Producers Apologise For Paying Lead Actress Less Than Male Co-Star

This file photo taken on January 7, 2018, shows actors Claire Foy (L) and Matt Smith arriving for the 75th Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California.  VALERIE MACON / AFP

 

The producers of the hit Netflix royal saga “The Crown” apologised Tuesday over the firestorm that erupted after it emerged that Claire Foy was paid less than co-star Matt Smith.

But the statement stopped short of admitting that Foy had been treated unfairly, or of offering to redress the balance with a retrospective bonus for the actress, who played Queen Elizabeth II in the British royal saga.

“We want to apologize to both Claire Foy and to Matt Smith, brilliant actors and friends, who have found themselves at the centre of a media storm this week through no fault of their own,” the statement from London-based Left Bank Pictures said.

The furore erupted last week when producers admitted that Smith, who plays the queen’s husband Prince Philip, negotiated a better deal than Foy because of his perceived higher profile.

They did not reveal either salary — Foy’s was put at $40,000 an episode by Variety last year — but told a panel event in Jerusalem that Smith’s 2010-2013 starring role on the BBC’s “Doctor Who” had been the decisive factor.

The explanation has not appeased critics who argued that the discrepancy should only have shown up in the first season, before Foy was garlanded with acclaim.

The part has earned the 33-year-old British actress a host of award season nominations, including at the BAFTAs, Golden Globes, Emmys and Screen Actors Guild awards. She has won two SAGs and a Globe.

An online petition even called on Smith to donate the difference accumulated over two years.

“As the producers of ‘The Crown,’ we at Left Bank Pictures are responsible for budgets and salaries; the actors are not aware of who gets what, and cannot be held personally responsible for the pay of their colleagues.”

Suzanne Mackie, one of the show’s producers, said the discrepancy was being resolved for the third season but that will not benefit Foy.

“The Crown,” which costs $7 million an episode to produce, is replacing its leads for the start of filming in July, with Olivia Colman stepping in as the queen and an actor to replace Smith not yet announced.

“We understand and appreciate the conversation which is rightly being played out across society and we are absolutely united with the fight for fair pay, free of gender bias, and for a re-balancing of the industry’s treatment of women, both those in front of the camera and for those behind the scenes,” Left Bank said.

“We all have a responsibility to do what we can to ensure that these issues are tackled, and as a leading production company we want to make our contribution to the debate.”

AFP

Television Titans Prepare To Battle Internet Rivals

 

Corporate headquarters of Comcast, the United States’ biggest cable television and Internet provider on JFK Boulevard in downtown Philadelphia on February 23, 2014. Dave Clark / AFP

 

Traditional television titans are bulking up in a battle with online streaming giants Netflix and Amazon as viewers take to binging on shows when and where they want.

The latest evidence was the surprise move this week by US cable giant Comcast to outbid Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox for pan-European satellite TV group Sky with an all-cash offer valued at more than $31 billion (25 billion Euros).

The twist comes after Britain’s competition regulator provisionally ruled that Fox’s offer was “not in the public interest”.

In 2016, 21st Century Fox bid for the nearly two-thirds of Sky it does not own — but a full-takeover had been held up by UK government concerns.

Maneuvering has accelerated in the sector, which is being transformed by Silicon Valley technology that enables viewers to stream shows on-demand to a broad array of internet-linked devices.

Content is critical ammunition, with Netflix and Amazon pouring massive amounts of money into ‘original’ programming and licensing deals with the backing of shareholders who have seen the companies values’ soar.

Meanwhile, YouTube cultivates armies of ‘creators’ who upload videos to the platform with the potential to share in advertising revenue.

The Google-owned online video venue also has a subscription service called YouTube Red, which also features original content.

Acquiring content makers has become a go-to tactic for traditional actors in the television and cable sector, where they are under pressure to replicate success of disruptive newcomers.

Pivotal Research Group analyst Brian Wieser was among those who expected the content market to become more consolidated, especially as large US companies bring home large amounts of spending money from overseas due to recent tax reform.

Who’s courting whom?

AT&T wants to merge with Time Warner (HBO, Cartoon Network, Warner Brothers Studio, CNN) in an $85.4 billion deal.

Already the owner of DirecTV satellite group, AT&T would add significant muscle in the distribution and production of shows.

The catalog AT&T would gain from the merger would be impressive, from hit shows “Game of Thrones” and “Big Little Lies” to popular channels such as TNT, TBS, and CNN, seen as a perpetual source of global news.

The content could also be used to entice people to subscribe to AT&T mobile phone plans.

An obstacle in the path of the merger is the US Department of Justice, which opposes the deal on anti-trust grounds.

A trial in the matter is slated to begin in the middle of March.

Meanwhile, a Walt Disney Co. bid for much of the film and television assets of 21st Century Fox could help make the streaming platform Hulu a legitimate rival to Netflix.

The proposed multi-billion-dollar deal has drawn attention for potentially turning over to Disney another major Hollywood studio and key television operations in the US and overseas.

But if streaming video represents the future, Hulu could be the key.

Created in 2008, Hulu has garnered comparatively little attention as the number three streaming platform in the US market, behind Netflix and Amazon.

Hulu was created by the major broadcast operators to counter the growing influence of Netflix. But Hulu’s structure has been a handicap. Disney Fox and Comcast’s NBCUniversal each own 30 percent, with Time Warner holding the remaining 10 percent.

The Disney transaction would exclude popular, conservative Fox TV channel and sports stations as well as its newspapers, notably the Wall Street Journal and New York Post.

Sky and its 23 million customers represent an opportunity for Disney to strengthen its presence in Europe. It also offers a streaming service (Now TV).

Apart from its catalog of films, Disney does not offer much other content outside the US.

Ballet

Comcast already owns NBC, NBC Sports, MSNBC and CNBC, E !, Telemundo, Xfinity (cable and internet), and Universal (Dreamworks).

The company was valued just above $168 billion based on the price of shares on the Nasdaq exchange on Wednesday.

Other media firms in this ballet include Viacom and CBS. Both properties of media mogul Sumner Redstone, the two companies plan to merge.

Such a transaction would bring under one roof Paramount movie studio, CBS, MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, and BET.

The merger would reconstitute the group as it existed before Viacom became a separate entity on the stock market in 2006. Even if they are not yet in the dance, others in the sector could step in — like US telecom firm Verizon and leading social network Facebook, which has made video a priority.

AFP

Netflix Wins International Crown With Original Shows

courtesy: http://www.reuters.com/

Twenty years after Reed Hastings co-founded Netflix Inc (NFLX.O), and a decade after the company introduced video streaming, it hit another milestone – one that is key to its ability to sustain its scorching pace of growth.

International subscriber count increased 8.6 percent to 52.03 million at the end of the June quarter, eclipsing domestic customer numbers of 51.92 million, Netflix said on Monday.

The company’s shares jumped as much as 9.7 percent to a record high of $177.44 on Tuesday, on track to add roughly $7 billion to Netflix’s $70 billion market value.

Betting on original shows puts Netflix in pole position to win over more millennials who are shunning traditional television, analysts said.

Netflix has a new-found ally as well: pay-TV platforms.

Several companies such as Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O), Virgin Media in the UK, and Altice in France are bundling Netflix into their pay-TV offerings, which could rapidly ramp up viewer numbers in younger markets, Morgan Stanley analysts wrote.

At least 17 brokerages raised their price targets on Netflix. Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan were the most bullish, each raising their target to $210.

The median price target is $192.50.

“We believe the rapidly growing content offering led by originals, that in aggregate garnered 91 Emmy nominations last week, drove the stronger new sign-ups,” Morgan Stanley analysts wrote in a research note.

This year, original TV shows including “Stranger Things”, “The Crown” and the latest season of Kevin Spacey-starred “House of Cards” brought in more customers than Netflix had predicted for the second quarter.

Netflix has a long way to go to get more content to please more members, Hastings said on a conference call on Monday, adding that positive returns made him comfortable that the company should continue to invest in original shows.

The company has often been criticized for spending too much on content. It said earlier it planned to spend about $6 billion this year for original shows and expected to have negative free cash flow of $2 billion to $2.5 billion.

While most analysts backed the company’s strategy favoring scale over profit, a few disagreed.

NBC, Netflix Cancel Bill Cosby’s Shows After Sexual Assault Claims

Bill CosbyNBC said on Wednesday it has canceled an upcoming project with veteran comedian, Bill Cosby, his second show to be pulled after accusations that he sexually assaulted women resurfaced in recent weeks.

The move by NBC comes a day after online streaming company Netflix Inc. said that it was postponing Cosby’s stand-up comedy special “Bill Cosby 77,” which was due to be released on November 28.

Cosby’s lawyers have called the allegations of sexual assault “discredited” and “defamatory.”

Cosby’s representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the NBC and Netflix cancellations.

The damage to Cosby’s career reached the reruns of “The Cosby Show,” a top-rate NBC comedy in which he played his most famous role as the affable patriarch, Dr. Cliff Huxtable. A spokeswoman for Viacom Inc’s basic cable channel TV Land said that the show is being pulled from its schedule, without commenting further.

The 77-year-old Cosby is fighting to protect one of the most storied careers in stand-up comedy and television. He is scheduled to go ahead with a performance on Friday at a sold-out show in Florida, the King Center for the Performing Arts said on its website on Wednesday.

Comcast Corp-owned NBC said in a statement that “the Cosby project is no longer in development,” while declining to comment further. The project was still in its early stages, with no script delivered and no production date secured.

Allegations that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted several young women decades ago gained renewed attention after comedian, Hannibal Buress, called him a rapist during a stand-up comedy routine last month.

Neither NBC nor Netflix referred to the accusations in their statements.

In a previously unaired Associated Press television interview released on Wednesday, Cosby declined to comment about Buress’ allegations. It was the first time the comedian has had any response to questions other than silence.

“I don’t talk about it,” he said in the November 6 interview, flanked by his wife, Camille.

After the interview and while cameras were still rolling, Cosby asked that his response not be used. “I would appreciate it if it was scuttled,” he said.

Late Tuesday, model, Janice Dickinson, became the most high-profile accuser against Cosby, telling Entertainment Tonight she believed she had been sexually assaulted by Cosby in 1982.

In a letter received by Reuters, Cosby’s lawyer, Martin Singer, called Dickinson’s claims “fabricated” and “an outrageous defamatory lie.”

Representatives for Dickinson did not respond to a request for comment. CBS said Dickinson would appear on the show on Wednesday to address Cosby’s lawyers.

COSBY MEME BACKFIRES

Cosby’s camp unwittingly intensified the scandal on Twitter last week by asking the comedian’s followers to create viral memes about him, and were instead barraged with memes about the rape accusations.

One of Cosby’s accusers, former aspiring actress, Barbara Bowman, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed this month that Cosby had sexually assaulted her on multiple occasions in 1985 when she was 17. She said she never went to the police because she feared she would not be believed.

Cosby has never been charged with the alleged crimes.

“The Cosby Show” was a top-ranked show for NBC from 1984 to 1992 and is credited with accelerating racial tolerance and even helping to pave the way for a black U.S. president.