Report: Readerlink Eyeing Higher Offer for Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble has accepted an $683 million acquisition offer (including debt) from private equity firm Elliot Management.

Now that offer could be in question following a report Readerlink LLC, an Oak Brook, Ill.-based book distributor, is considering placing a superior counter offer for Barnes & Noble.

The Wall Street Journal, citing sources familiar with the situation, said a potential bid would exceed Elliott’s $6.50-per-share offer. Indeed, B&N shares closed June 10 at $6.80 per share on the news.

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Readerlink has until June 13 to submit a formal bid.

Should Barnes & Noble, which also sells digital movies through its Nook subsidiary, in addition to DVD/Blu-ray Disc titles in stores, strike another deal, it would be on the hook to Elliott for $4 million break-up fee – an amount that balloons to $17.5 million after June 13.

Disney CEO Bob Iger Ups Possibility of Acquiring Comcast’s Hulu Stake

Disney CEO Bob Iger May 8 confirmed the existence of discussions with Comcast about the possible acquisition of the cabler’s 33% stake in Hulu and Hulu with Live TV online platform.

Disney owns 66% of Hulu following its $71.3 billion acquisition of select 21st Century Fox assets and WarnerMedia selling its 10% ownership stake.

Speaking on the fiscal call, Iger didn’t disclose additional details except to say Disney remained mindful of its fiduciary duty to keep Comcast in the loop on Hulu activities, including global expansion and content licensing.

Disney CEO Bob Iger

“There has been dialog with Comcast about them possibly divesting their [Hulu] stake, and you can expect that if that were to occur, there would probably be some ongoing relationship as a result of [shared] programming,” Iger said, adding that any expansion of the service abroad would have to be done with Comcast’s cooperation.

“We’re bullish about Hulu for a number of reasons, but mostly because we see it as the best consumer television proposition out there,” he said.

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While Disney invests heavily in the ramp-up of subscription streaming video platform Disney+, it remains proactive about Hulu – despite the service’s ongoing fiscal drain.

Indeed, Disney “Direct-to-Consumer & International” business segment, which includes Hulu, Disney+ and ESPN+, saw revenue for the quarter increase 15% to $955 million and segment operating loss increase from $188 million to $393 million.

The increase in operating loss was due to ongoing investment in ESPN+, which was launched in April 2018, costs associated with Disney+, a loss from the consolidation of Hulu and higher losses from streaming technology services (formerly BAMTech), partially offset by an increase at International Channels.

As a result, upon the closing of the Fox transaction, Disney recorded a one-time gain of $4.9 billion as a result of remeasuring its initial 30% interest in Hulu to fair value.

 

 

 

Sony Crackle Merges with Chicken Soup for New AVOD Service

Sony Pictures Television March 28 announced it has merged its Sony Crackle AVOD service with Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment Inc., a media company producing content for all screens, to form a new AVOD joint venture branded, “Crackle Plus.”

Under the agreement, CSS Entertainment will own the majority interest in the joint venture. Additionally, SPT will receive 4 million five-year warrants to purchase Class A common stock of CSS Entertainment at various prices.

The addition of the Crackle assets is expected to more than double CSS Entertainment’s overall revenue and add meaningful pre-tax earnings.

Eric Berger, chief digital officer at Sony Pictures Television, will reportedly depart the company upon closure of the deal.

Eric Berger

Sony and Chicken Soup will each contribute certain assets with plans to combine their 10 million viewers and content expertise. SPT’s contributions feature Crackle’s U.S. assets, including the Crackle brand, monthly active users and ad rep business.

SPT and the joint venture will also enter into a license agreement for rights to TV series and movies from the Sony Pictures Entertainment library. In addition, New Media Services, a subsidiary of Sony Electronics Inc., will provide the technology back-end services for Crackle Plus.

Ownership of Crackle’s original content library will be retained by SPT but be made available for licensing to the joint venture. CSS Entertainment plans to include six owned and operated AVOD networks (Popcornflix, Truli, Popcornflix Kids, Popcornflix Comedy, Frightpix, and Espanolflix) and SVOD platform Pivotshare.

Crackle Plus is expected to have more than 38,500 hours of programming, 90 content partnerships; 1.3 billion minutes streamed per month, and an offering of more than 100 networks, both ad-supported and subscription-based, including networks owned by Crackle Plus and third-party networks distributed via Pivotshare.

“Crackle is a valuable asset and we feel confident it will thrive and grow in this new environment with CSS Entertainment,” said Mike Hopkins, chairman of SPT, in a statement. “We were drawn to CSS Entertainment as our partner in this venture because of its aggressive, entrepreneurial approach.