21st Century Fox’s (FOXA) proposed acquisition of the remaining 61% in Sky, PLC (LSE: SKY), is now on hold pending a Phase 2 investigation on the grounds of media plurality. The concern is that a full takeover of Europe’s leading cable provider would give Murdoch the 3rd largest total reach of any news provider in the U.K., behind only BBC & ITN, and in turn provide him with the ability to influence the overall news agenda and political processes. The proposed deal, valued at $15.2 Billion, would greatly enhance 21st Century Fox’s paid TV position in Britain, Ireland, Austria, Germany and Italy.
Britain Says Fox Bid for Sky Gives Murdoch Too Much Power Over News
Howie Long-Short opines: This has been in the works since before the phone hacking scandal. Don’t bet against Darth Vader. After politicians passed the buck to the regulators, I think this finally gets done. Fox is certainly desperate for it to close. After it failed in 2011, and then their lost bid for HBO, the clock is ticking as they try to keep up with the likes of Netflix and gain control of a widely-distributed premium network.
Fan Marino says: Considering a former Prime Minister has expressly stated Murdoch had tried to get him to change policy, and considering that Murdoch is now looking to expand influence by taking over one of the country’s most influential broadcasting companies, fans of a free press can only hope this transaction does not go through.
Jamie Horowitz, the President of National Networks for Fox Sports has been fired amid an internal investigation by 21st Century Fox (FOXA), into claims of sexual harassment. Horowitz, who has run programming at Fox Sports since 20015, is the latest high ranking Fox executive (Ailes, O’Reilly) accused of inappropriate behavior with women. The move comes less than a week after Horowitz let go of 20 writing & editing staffers, as the company moves towards a focus on video.
Jamie Horowitz, head of Fox Sports programming, fired in sexual harassment probe
Howie Long-Short opines: It’s a never-end saga at Fox. Dare I say culture problems? I don’t think this has impacted Fox stock much yet, but the risk is Fox News ratings deteriorate if they keep losing all their “talent”.
Fan Marino says: Chris Sacca, Dave McClure and now Jamie Horowitz. Big week for the anti-creep movement.
Fox Sports (FOXA), in an effort to attract eyeballs and advertising dollars, has decided to eliminate 20 writing and editorial positions, and replace them with jobs in video production, editing and promotion. The company is hoping that the significant investment in video content will drive advertising growth for both its web & TV programming. Ad sales for digital video are up 39% YOY since 2009.
Fox Sports Cuts Web Writing Staff to Invest More in Online Video
Howie Long-Short opines: Was anyone reading this stuff to begin with?
Fan Marino says: I’m concerned for millennials. They lack interpersonal communication skills due to their obsession with texting/smart phones. Is illiteracy next? It’s also very weird to go to a website without any written content.
Charter Communications (CHTR), the country’s 2nd leading cable provider (behind CMCSA), will be introducing a sports-free streaming service under its Spectrum brand. The bundle will include 25 news & entertainment channels, but NO sports channels, for just $19.95/mo. The base package does not include any ESPN, Fox Sports, NBC Sports or CBS Sports channels.
Charter Communications testing a sports-free skinny bundle offering
Howie Long-Short opines: The break-up of the bundle continues. ESPN is a victim of their own success. Margins and subs are under pressure, though still hugely profitable. As for sports leagues, OTT could actually lead to more bidders and ever-higher value for sports rights.
Fan Marino says: ESPN is paying 4x the amount paid in 2015-2016, for NBA games through the 2024-2025 season. The 2nd leading cable provider is planning on offering a bundle without ESPN. When does the cost of programming begin to exceed the revenue generated from NBA broadcasts?
Nike (NKE) co-founder Phil Knight said in an interview that aired on Wednesday (6/28) on Bloomberg TV, that despite Tiger Woods’ enormous success and popularity, “we lost money for 20 years on equipment and balls”. The company exited the golf equipment space in 2016, while Woods has since signed an equipment deal with TaylorMade. Adidas (ADDYY) sold TaylorMade Golf earlier this year, to PE firm KPS Capital Partners, for $425 Million.
Nike lost money on golf equipment for 20 years, according to co-founder Phil Knight
Howie Long-Short opines: Nike poured money into R&D in golf’s version of an arms race for years. The space is finally rationalizing, which should be good for those left.
Fan Marino says: I can’t help but think that Tiger’s little 2009 Thanksgiving incident, wasn’t exactly the catalyst Nike needed to turn a profit on golf equipment.
NBCUniversal (CMCSA), the parent company of NBC Sports, announced it will be offering a direct to consumer streaming package consisting of 130 live Premier League games, for just $50. Subscribers of the “Premier League Pass” will not need to be cable subscribers, but hardcore fans will still want to keep their cable subscription. NBCUniversal plans on continuing to show games on its broadcast network and on the NBCSN & CNBC cable channels.
NBCUniversal will stream Premier League soccer games, no cable subscription required
Fan Marino says: Read the fine print. “Package will feature at least 3 games per club.” I’m trying to follow my squad as they pursue a title. I need ALL of their games, not a variety pack.
Howie Long-Short opines: Agreed. That’s a pretty penny for garbage.
Nike (NKE) reported Q4 ’16 profits and revenue on Thursday, that exceeded analyst expectations ($.60/share vs. $.50/share and $8.68 Billion vs. $8.63 Billion, respectively). The company said international geographies and its direct to consumer business fueled the growth. Analysts and investors were told to expect mid to high single digit growth in 2018.
Nike tops Wall Street expectations; confirms deal with Amazon
Howie Long-Short opines: The beauty of low expectations. Under Armour (UAA) and Adidas (ADDYY) have been cutting into Nike’s market share recently, but this is a good start.
Fan Marino says: Nike started selling Air Jordans in 1985 and the company is reporting Jordan Brand saw strong growth in 2016. Can you imagine Steph Curry still selling shoes for Under Armour in 2046? Yeah, me neither.
Under Armour (UAA) has hired former Aldo CEO Patrik Frisk to run the company’s day to day operations as President & COO. Founder Kevin Plank will remain as CEO. The move comes just 2 months after April’s announcement that the company had its first losing quarter since going public in 2005.
Under Armour brings in new president; Plank remains CEO
Howie Long-Short opines: This looks long overdue.
Fan Marino says: If we’re talking sneakers; I’ve got Nike, Adidas and Reebok (ADDYY). If we’re talking athleisure; it’s Lululemon (LULU) Rhone and Aesthetic Revolution. Mr. Frisk has his work cut out for him.
Facebook (FB) and Fox Sports, the sports network owned by 21st Century Fox (FOXA) have partnered to livestream the UEFA Champions League, Europe’s top-tier soccer tournament, on the social media platform, effective September 2017. The partnership will span more than a dozen matches between the group round and quarterfinals, including some that will be exclusive to Facebook and Fox Sports GO. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.
Facebook in deal to live stream soccer with Fox Sports
Howie Long-Short opines: This smacks of desperation for Fox Sports, potentially empowering a competitor for some short-term cash. But early stage Champions League is still not exactly a top draw in the US…
Fan Marino says: Facebook has live streaming deals in place with MLB, MLS, La Liga and now Champions League. Great news if you are a cord cutter who wants to watch soccer and post viral dog trick videos.
21st Century Fox, Inc. (FOXA), Sky Plc (SKY) and Scripps Networks Interactive (SSP) have invested in an online television service, with a focus on the sports fan. FuboTV raised $55 Million to expand their channel lineup and improve technology. The company intends to compete in an increasing competitive field that includes Sling TV (DISH), Playstation Vue (SNE), DirectTV Now (T), YouTube (GOOGL) & Hulu (TWX).
Fan Marino says: Do you hear that noise? It’s me opening up the junk drawer and pulling out my scissors. We’re an ESPN and ESPN2 away from the snip.