Tubi TV Integrates With Fox Media Down Under

Since Fox Corp. acquired Tubi TV earlier this year for $440 million, it has aggressively sought to meld the ad-supported VOD platform with its programing and management.

Tubi July 1 announced it has entered an exclusive ad sales partnership with Australian media company Foxtel Group. As part of this collaboration, Foxtel Media will serve as the sole ad sales representative in Australia for Tubi through 2022.

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Headquartered in San Francisco, Tubi streams movies and TV shows from nearly every major Hollywood studio. The service has more than 200 million monthly views and is available in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Mexico.

For Foxtel Media, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., Tubi adds a key free-to-the-viewer ad-supported component to its portfolio of live sports, lifestyle, entertainment content and news. In an advertising world that is increasingly powered by data targeting capabilities, Foxtel Media now straddles the fence marketing between free and subscription-based content distributors.

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“Our collaboration with Foxtel Media delivers an optimally localized relationship and trusted team for advertisers in Australia,” Tubi CEO Farhad Massoudi said in a statement.

Mark Frain, CEO of Foxtel Media, says the technology behind Tubi has enabled the AVOD to rapidly build viewership across Australia and Mexico.

“We have the opportunity to connect brands and advertisers to Tubi’s outstanding proposition in this market,” Frain said.

Tubi is available in Australia on Telstra, Android and iOS mobile devices, Amazon Echo Show, Google Nest Hub Max, and on streaming media devices such as Amazon Fire TV, Vizio TVs, Sony TVs, Samsung TVs, Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, Android TV, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4, and soon on Chinese Hisense TVs globally.

Fox Selling Sky Stake to Comcast — With Disney’s Blessing

Rupert Murdoch is a sly fox. After his 21stCentury Fox media company lost to Comcast in a weekend auction for outstanding control of Sky Plc., the media tycoon has agreed to sell Fox’s 39% stake (worth about $15 billion) in the British satellite TV distributor to Comcast – at the new elevated share price of £17.28 ($22.60).

To do so, Fox had to get Disney’s approval after the latter acquired select Fox assets, including 20thCentury Fox Film and Fox’s stake in Sky, for $71 billion.

After Comcast emerged victorious last weekend in a special auction held by British regulators – an event that saw Comcast agree to pay nearly 70% more for Sky than Fox had original offered, fiscal common sense prevailed over ego.

In a statement, Fox said it wished its colleagues at Sky well going forward. Murdoch helped launch Sky in 1989 through the merger of Sky Television and British Satellite Broadcasting.

“In light of the premium Comcast has agreed to pay for Sky, we and Disney have decided to sell 21CF’s existing 39% holding in Sky to Comcast. We congratulate Comcast on their pending acquisition,” said Fox.“We are proud of the role our company has played in building Sky, and of the outstanding value we have delivered for shareholders of 21CF and Sky, and customers across Europe.”

For Disney, the transaction, coupled with the divestiture of the Fox Sports Regional Networks, significantly reduces the amount of debt it would incur in acquiring Fox assets.

Disney, in a statement, said it would rather focus its “considerable investment” in the branded direct-to-consumer offering launching in late 2019 and the new ESPN+ sports streaming service. It will also seek to increase investment in Hulu’s content offerings and international distribution. Disney and Fox each currently hold 30% stakes in Hulu.

“Along with the net proceeds from the divestiture of the RSNs, the sale of Fox’s Sky holdings will substantially reduce the cost of our overall acquisition and allow us to aggressively invest in building and creating high-quality content for our direct-to-consumer platforms to meet the growing demands of viewers,” said Disney CEO Bob Iger.

The acquisition has received formal approval from shareholders of both companies, and Disney and 21st Century Fox have entered into a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice that allows the acquisition to proceed, while requiring the sale of the Fox Sports Regional Networks. The transaction is subject to a number of non-U.S. merger and other regulatory reviews

For Murdoch and Co., selling Sky marks the end of an era.

When Murdoch-led Fox launched Sky nearly three decades ago, it nearly went broke operating four channels produced from a prefab structure in an industrial park on the fringes of west London.

“We bet — and almost lost — the farm on launching a business that many didn’t think was such a good idea,” Fox said. “Today, Sky is Europe’s leading entertainment company, a world-class example of a customer-driven enterprise … and we have created more than 31,000 jobs across the continent.”

Comcast Ends Pursuit of 20th Century Fox, But Not Sky

As expected, Comcast Corp. July 19 officially dropped out of its attempt to acquire select assets of 21st Century Fox, including 20th Century Film and majority ownership of Hulu.

The media giant was considering upping its $65 billion offer for Fox, which included a 39% stake in British satellite TV distributor Sky.

“Comcast does not intend to pursue further acquisition of the Twenty-First Century Fox assets and, instead, will focus on our recommended offer for Sky,” the company said in a statement.

Comcast currently has a $34 billion (£14.75 per share) offer on the table for Sky, which exceeds Fox’s revised offer of £14 per share.

The decision should clear a path for Disney’s $71.3 billion bid, which has been approved by Rupert Murdoch, majority shareholder of 21st Century Fox.

“I’d like to congratulate [Disney CEO] Bob Iger and the team at Disney and commend the Murdoch family and Fox for creating such a desirable and respected company,” said Comcast chairman/CEO Brian Roberts.

 

 

Comcast Tops Fox’s Bid for Sky as British Government Greenlights Murdoch’s Offer

NEWS ANALYSIS — As expected, Comcast Corp. increased its all-cash offer for British satellite TV operator Sky to $34 billion (£26 billion), or £14.75 per share, exceeding 21st Century Fox’s revised offer of £14 per share. Fox, which is controlled by Rupert Murdoch, currently owns 39% of Sky.

This came the day before the British government — after months of regulatory review — formally cleared Fox’s pursuit for remaining interest in Sky.

“It’s now a matter for Sky shareholders to decide whether to accept 21stCentury Fox’s bid,” Jeremy Wright, U.K. cultural and media secretary, said in a July 12 statement.

Which could be meaningless considering the third player (Disney) in this high-stakes media consolidation battle last month upped its bid for Fox to $71.3 billion (which includes Fox’s stake in Sky) after Comcast offered $65 billion — topping the Mickey Mouse’s company’s initial $52.4 billion acquisition amount.

Disney CEO Bob Iger has called Sky – with 23 million subscribers in the U.K., Germany and Italy, and a budding over-the-top video business – the “crown jewel” in the Fox deal.

Comcast claims its superior cash offer (Disney’s bid is cash and stock) has been recommended by an independent committee on Sky’s board of directors.

The company says it has the relevant regulatory approvals in the European Union, Austria, Germany, and Italy —  and expects to complete the acquisition before the end of October.

In a statement, the Philadelphia-based media giant said it has long admired Sky and believes the satellite operator is an outstanding company and a great fit with Comcast Cable.

“Today’s [July 11] announcement further underscores Comcast’s belief and its commitment to owning Sky,” said the company headed by cable veteran Brian Roberts.

Fox and Disney shareholders are slated to vote July 27 on the latter’s bid for 20th Century Fox Film, Sky and related assets. This gives Comcast about two weeks to up its Fox bid. Or does it?

BTIG Research senior analyst Rich Greenfield — in response to media scuttlebutt Comcast and Disney could stop the fiscal escalations with Comcast taking Sky and Disney opting for Fox’s assets — says such a move would be detrimental to both sides.

He said combining Disney and 20th Century Fox Film would dwarf Comcast-owned Universal Studios, while Disney abandoning Sky would give Comcast greater distribution.

“Why start a fight you do not want to finish?” Greenfield wrote in a blog note. “If Disney’s acquisition goal is adding 100% owned and controlled subscriber relationships, why go through all this effort and allow Comcast to own all of or at the very least control Sky?”

Fox/Disney Cite Hulu in Arguments Against Comcast Bid

NEWS ANALYSIS — Apparently, 21st Century Fox and The Walt Disney Co. really don’t want Comcast to buy the former’s 20th Century Film and British satellite TV operator Sky businesses no matter how many billions the cabler puts on the table.

Fox, which is run by Rupert Murdoch and his son Lachlan — in a regulatory filing — said Comcast’s $65 billion all-cash offer faces too many regulatory hurdles. Instead, it believes Disney’s competing $71 billion cash/stock bid poses fewer risks.

“While a potential Disney transaction was likely to receive required regulatory approvals and ultimately be consummated, a strategic transaction with Comcast continued to carry higher regulatory risk leading to the possibility of significant delay in the receipt of merger consideration as well as the risk of an inability to consummate the transactions,” the company said in the filing.

However, Comcast made its offer for Fox the day after a federal judge rejected similar antitrust issues and ruled in favor of AT&T’s $85 billion merger with Time Warner.

Included in the competing Disney/Comcast offers is controlling interest in Hulu, the money-losing SVOD service and adjunct online TV platform. Both Disney and Comcast would have 60% control of Hulu should either consummate the deal. Currently each company (along with Fox) has a 30% stake, with AT&T’s WarnerMedia owning 10%.

Hulu was a key issue to regulators when Comcast acquired NBC Universal in 2011. The DOJ at the time worried so much that Comcast could thwart rollout of over-the-top video that it mandated the company “relinquish its management rights in Hulu,” among other provisions. It also ordered Comcast make NBC Universal content available to Hulu “that is comparable” to the programming Hulu obtains from Disney and News Corp. (now 21st Century Fox).

Indeed, in a June 20 investor call, Disney CEO Bob Iger reiterated those concerns.

“What is also clear to us is that in the vertical concentration issues that I’ve talked about, this is a great concern to the DOJ,” said Iger.

With the OTT video ecosystem no longer in its infancy (hello, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video!), and Disney planning to roll out its own branded SVOD service in 2019, Fox contends regulators would have fewer issues with Disney controlling Hulu.

Which is precisely why the issue is moot, according to Rich Greenfield, media analyst with BTIG Research.

“Given that Hulu has been dwarfed by Netflix and Amazon on the SVOD front and trails well-behind other virtual MVPDs such as Sling and DirecTV Now, we find it difficult to imagine why greater Hulu ownership by Comcast would concern the DOJ in 2018,” Greenfield wrote in a June 26 note.

The analyst believes Comcast not only has the financial resources to top Disney’s offer, but smoother regulatory path as well.

“We continue to believe that if the DOJ is worried about reduced competition and higher consumer prices, with less choice in bundles, Disney/Fox is far more concerning than Comcast/Fox,” Greenfield wrote.

 

Lachlan Murdoch to Become Chairman/CEO of New ‘Fox’

Twenty-First Century Fox May 16 revealed the senior management team at the revamped “Fox” once it consummates the asset sale of 20th Century Fox Film Corp. to The Walt Disney Co. (or Comcast).

Current executive chairman Lachlan Murdoch will serve as chairman and CEO of the new company, while his father, Rupert Murdoch, will serve as co-chairman. John Nallen, CFO at 21st Century Fox, will take a broader role as new COO.

No mention of current Fox CEO James Murdoch, who apparently won’t have a role in the new company.

The younger son was seen as more progressive politically than his father and brother. Indeed, James was reportedly embarrassed by ongoing sexual harassment issues at Fox News, and late last year wrote an email criticizing President Trump’s response to the deadly skirmish in Charlottesville, Va., between protesters and white nationalists and alt-right groups that left one woman dead and 19 people injured.

The downsized Fox will feature Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox Sports, Fox Television Stations Group, and sports cable networks FS1, FS2, Fox Deportes and Big Ten Network.

It will house the top cable news channel in the country, and a stations group in nine of the 10 largest metro areas in the U.S. Its broadcasting and cable sports brands will have long-term sports rights to the NFL, MLB, World Cup soccer and NASCAR.

“We have worked through the winter ‘standing up’ a reimagined independent Fox,” the younger Murdoch said in a statement.

Rupert Murdoch said the revamped company would become the only media company solely focused on the domestic market.

“Focused on what Americans love best – sports, news and entertainment,” he said.

Fox: Disney Could Buy Sky News Separately

Media giant 21st Century Fox April 3 floated the prospect The Walt Disney Co. could acquire Sky News in an independent deal to assuage British regulators in its $16 billion acquisition for the remaining 61% stake of the European satellite operator.

Disney’s acquisition of Sky’s news division would be separate from its $52 billion acquisition of 20th Century Fox Film Corp., which includes the corporate parent’s stake in Sky, according to The Wall Street Journal. Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch owns The Journal.

British regulator Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in January issued a report critical of the merger, claiming Murdoch’s majority ownership of Sky would place too much (i.e. conservative politics) control of British media in hands of one person.

Fox contends selling Sky News to Disney (which owns ABC TV) should alleviate regulatory concerns. It has also pledged 15 years of guaranteed funding for the news division.

“The enhanced remedies we proposed to safeguard the editorial independence of Sky News addressed comprehensively and constructively the [CMA’s] provisional concerns,” Fox said in a statement.

Regardless, Fox faces competition from Comcast, which has submitted an unsolicited $31 billion bid for Sky – nearly twice that of Murdoch’s offer.

Comcast, which owns NBC Universal and DreamWorks Animation, is eying Sky for its European distribution plans. Comcast in 2004 attempted a hostile takeover of Disney, which was scuttled by the latter’s shareholders. Comcast also reportedly offered a 15% premium on Disney’s bid for 20th Century Fox, which was rejected by Murdoch over U.S. regulatory concerns.

 

Netflix and Sky Ink European Pact

Everyone wants a piece of British satellite TV operator Sky, including Netflix.

Sky and Netflix March 1 unveiled an agreement to bundle the SVOD pioneer into an updated Sky TV subscription pack. This partnership – the first of its kind – will give Sky subs in the United Kingdom and Ireland later this year direct access to Netflix through its Sky Q platform.

Netflix will launch on Sky Q platforms in Germany, Austria and Italy thereafter. Sky provides sports programming, movies and broadband service to 23 million homes across Britain, Ireland, Germany, Italy and Austria.

Sky will make Netflix available to new and existing customers via a TV pack combining Sky and Netflix content side-by-side for the first time – including thousand hours of Ultra HD content, complementing Sky Q’s UHD programming.

“By placing Sky and Netflix content side-by-side, along with programs from HBO, Showtime, Fox and Disney, we are making the entertainment experience even easier and simpler for our customers,” Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch said in a statement.

Integration of the Netflix app essentially turns the SVOD behemoth into a pay-TV channel enabling Sky customers – via single monthly bill and user interface – to peruse myriad programs, including “Britannia,” “Billions” and “Big Little Lies” with “The Crown,” “Stranger Things” and “Black Mirror.”

Existing Netflix customers will be able to migrate their account to the new Sky TV bundle, or sign into the Netflix app using their existing account details.

In the UK and Ireland, Sky will launch Netflix as a standalone app on Now TV’s family of streaming devices (manufactured by Roku), including on the recently launched Now TV Smart Stick. Sky Ticket in Germany and Austria, and Now TV in Italy, will launch a standalone app on their devices.

“With this innovative new partnership … Sky’s customers will be able to seamlessly access all the best entertainment in one place,” said Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.

The deal comes after Comcast announced a $31 billion offer to acquire Sky – topping an existing bid by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox to acquire the remaining 61% stake it doesn’t own. In addition, the Walt Disney Co. has a $52 billion offer to acquire select Fox assets, including Sky.

Comcast Offers $31 Billion in Cash for Sky

In a major consolidation move across the Atlantic, Comcast Feb. 27 announced a $31 billion cash offer for British satellite giant Sky. The $17.40 per share offer bests Rupert Murdoch’s $14.96 per share offer through 21st Century Fox.

Murdoch has sought to acquire the remaining 61% ownership of Sky after his initial 39% stake.

“Sky and Comcast are a perfect fit: we are both leaders in creating and distributing content,” Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said in a statement.

Sky provides sports programming, movies and broadband service to 23 million homes across Britain, Ireland, Germany, Italy and Austria.

Notably for home entertainment, Sky’s “Buy & Keep” platform last October began offering consumers of digital movies a Blu-ray copy sent separately in the mail. Sky previously only offered a DVD backup.

Comcast, which owns NBC Universal and DreamWorks Animation, is seeking to outmaneuver The Walt Disney Co., which has a $52 billion offer for select Fox assets, including Sky.

The cable giants contends the acquisition would enhance its entertainment, distribution, and technology prowess domestically, while expanding it international footprint to more effectively compete in the rapidly changing and competitive entertainment and communications landscape.

“We already have a strong presence in London, and Comcast intends to use Sky as a platform for our growth in Europe,” said Roberts.

In a statement, 21st Century Fox said it remained committed to its $15 billion cash offer for the remaining stake in Sky, announced Dec. 15, 2016.

“We note that no firm offer has been made by Comcast at this point. A further statement will be made if appropriate,” Fox said in a statement.

Media reports suggest Roberts is also considering another bid for Fox assets after Comcast’s original $60 billion offer was rejected in favor of Disney’s.

 

Fox News Launching SVOD Service for Base Audience

Rupert Murdoch helped establish a cable news juggernaut with Fox News. Now he wants Fox News, including notable political pundit Sean Hannity and others, i.e. “Fox & Friends,” to go over-the-top through a standalone subscription streaming service.

Dubbed Fox Nation, the service featuring right-leaning commentary is set to launch at the end of the year. The price of the service has not been disclosed.

Designed to enhance the Fox News viewer experience, Fox Nation will take a deep dive into the big issues of the day with live daily streaming content and long-form programming. Fox Nation will also include access to events and 20 plus years of archival FNC programming. Interaction with all of FNC’s popular opinion hosts and personalities will also be a mainstay of the new platform.

“Fox Nation is designed to appeal to the Fox superfan,” John Finley, head of program development and production at Fox News, told The New York Times. “These are the folks who watch Fox News every night for hours at a time, the dedicated audience that really wants more of what we have to offer.”

The service comes as other media giants seek out SVOD platforms to buttress dwindling pay-TV markets.

Disney, by the second quarter, will launch ESPN Plus, a standalone service intended to compliment ESPN. CBS has more than 2.5 million subs for CBS All Access, in addition to free ad-supported CBSN, featuring news.

Whether Fox News’ older demographic will go for SVOD — which is largely popular among younger audiences, including millennials — remains to be seen.

Finley isn’t worried.

“We know who our audience is. We know what they want,” he said.