Bids are expected by the end of this week for Hulu, the online video site owned by Disney’s ABC, News Corp’s Fox and Comcast’s NBC that is said to be looking for a price tag around the $1bn mark.
Its status as an aggregator of some of the most popular professionally-produced content on the web has reportedly attracted a host of suitors, from traditional distributors such as DirecTV to Peter Chernin, who helped found Hulu while at News Corp, and Guggenheim Digital Media, the well-funded Guggenheim Partners offshoot run by Ross Levinsohn, formerly of Yahoo. Some seem to be talking the price down, claiming unhappiness about the sellers’ terms.
Guggenheim has also been eyeing another of the biggest digital video properties, Vevo. It is more than two months since it was reported to be in negotiations about taking a controlling stake, but talk about Vevo’s future has since gone rather quiet. Read more
To Tim Westergren, Pandora’s co-founder, Apple’s iTunes Radio is just another “Pandora-killer” that will be less deadly than it first appears. A once wobbly Wall Street now seems to agree: Pandora’s shares have doubled this year – and were up another 8 per cent on Monday morning – as investors focus not on competitive threats or grumbling artists but on growth opportunities such as integrating its internet radio service into cars. Read more
Aereo is not sitting around waiting for a judge to decide its fate. The digital video service that might disrupt traditional television economics if it can get through a legal thicket thrown up by those most wedded to traditional TV economics is going for growth.
Chet Kanojia’s start-up, which last year began offering streams of high-definition broadcast TV signals to devices from smartphones to tablets, plans to expand from New York City to 22 new markets, having secured $38m in a series B financing round, led by Barry Diller’s IAC and Highland Capital Partners. Read more
Stress balls, breath mints, cupcakes and a sponsored “oxygen bar”: yes, it’s Internet Week in New York, the annual feast of branded freebies, parties and panels for the city’s digital media and marketing set.
Today a Yahoo presentation drew the biggest crowd at the warehouse-like SoHo venue. Some were clearly there for an address on “big data” by Billy Beane, the number-crunching general manager of the Oakland A’s baseball team and inspiration for Brad Pitt’s character in Moneyball. Read more
The company that brought you AOL-Time Warner has become more careful about old media-new media investments. So it was little surprise that CNN, Time Warner’s cable news division, greeted a Reuters report that it was about to buy Mashable warily.
“We do not engage in speculation about our business and we aren’t commenting on those reports,” was the canned response. Read more
As he celebrated Sony’s sweep of Grammy awards at a star-draped after-party in West Hollywood on February 12, Sir Howard Stringer looked like a man relieved.
Adele, the Sony-signed British singer, had won six trophies, capping a year of music successes for the Japanese group and its Welsh-American chief executive, who had lured industry veteran Doug Morris to run his record labels, and pulled off a bid for EMI Music Publishing without committing much capital. Read more
It is a measure of how far streaming digital music services have come that Daniel Ek, co-founder of Spotify, could be feted by a room full of music industry lawyers during Grammy Awards week.
Ek, the keynote speaker at the Entertainment Law Initiative event at the Beverly Hills Hotel, hinted at the industry’s initial resistance when he pointed out that he had started Spotify in 2006 and it had taken him two years to launch in Europe and a full five years before it hit the US market last July. Read more
One thing is going smoothly for Eastman Kodak. This afternoon, in the basement of a Wall Street hotel, it took just three hours to decide who should make up the committee to represent creditors in its Chapter 11 bankruptcy process. Read more
BookExpo America is upon us, and all the talk at the New York publishing fair is of booming e-book sales and where that leaves hardbacks and paperbacks.
Barnes & Noble, the bookstore chain whose digital prospects helped encourage John Malone to make a $1bn offer last week, is marking the occasion by unveiling a new model of its Nook e-reader on Tuesday morning. Kobo got in a day early with the launch of a new touch-screen version of its 6-inch e-ink reader on Monday. Read more
Few people outside the New York Times headquarters can have been happier to see the publisher announce its (very) long-awaited model for charging for online news last week than Steve Brill and Gordon Crovitz.
The founder of The American Lawyer and the former head of WSJ.com set out two years ago to persuade publishers around the world that such paid models were feasible, and to provide them with the software to implement them. Read more
When Beyond Oblivion broke cover last April even its founder, Adam Kidron, admitted that its plans for a digital music service that would make money from the 95 per cent of people who do not currently pay for downloads were “frightfully ambitious”. The service has yet to arrive – but at least Kidron now has some serious money to back his plans. Read more
Digital music services like MOG, Rdio and Rhapsody have been vocal about their fear that Apple’s subscription policy will ruin innovative companies already shouldering start-up losses, and the industry’s concern was again on display at the FT Digital Media and Broadcasting conference on Wednesday. Read more
Spotify has stayed silent about the impact of Apple’s new subscription plans, perhaps because it was too busy negotiating $100m in new funding, but MOG has now joined the list of digital media start-ups and venerable publishers expressing consternation and confusion.
“From a principle perspective, I have a problem,” says CEO David Hyman. “We’ve spent years building this, and invested millions. It’s not clear to me why they deserve a bigger piece of my business than I get. It doesn’t feel right at all.” Read more
Ongo, a digital news aggregator launching in the US on Tuesday, starts life with promising credentials. Not only does Alex Kazim, its founder and CEO, come with a revenue-generating background as head of marketing for PayPal and then president of Skype, but its $12m of Series A funding came from the top of the US newspaper pile: the New York Times, the Washington Post and Gannett, owner of USA Today. Read more
If you drop by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art on Wednesday January 19, you will find some great Henri Cartier-Bresson pictures and an interesting exhibition on “Voyeurism, surveillance and the camera since 1870”, but you won’t find Steve Jobs and Rupert Murdoch. Read more
“You shouldn’t have to have a PhD as a consumer to be able to figure out how to get this stuff,” Jeff Bewkes, Time Warner’s chairman and chief executive said at the Consumer Electronics Show.
Anyone trying to navigate through the forest of new entertainment devices and services unveiled at CES would sympathise, but for the media companies present the event served up a particularly complex mix of promise and challenges. Read more
With any Virgin launch, it is worth looking for the substance behind the hype guaranteed by Sir Richard Branson’s involvement. Tuesday’s unveiling of Project, billed as the first truly interactive magazine for the iPad age, was no exception.
Joined by Holly, his 29-year-old daughter who is leading the Project, er, project, the bearded balloonist happily played into the hands of reporters who have billed his pitch for Apple’s tablet as a battle of the billionaires with Rupert Murdoch, whose $30m iPad “newspaper”, The Daily, is expected early next year.
“This is not a battle. This is not a war. It’s about the future of publishing,” he said, before adding the jibe that 30 years of reading Mr Murdoch’s papers convinced him that his title would win “the battle of quality”. Read more
If you’ve been having trouble keeping up with Angelina, Brad and Jen on your iPad, then today is a day for rejoicing. People magazine has launched its iPad app, and its Sandra Bullock cover story (“The sexy single mom happily moves on – as ex Jesse James is spotted in Vegas with another woman,” etc.) looks very slick on it, too.
Why does this matter? First, consumer magazines don’t come bigger than People, so this will be a big test of the theory that tablet devices, with their page-flicking qualities and glossy rendering of images, hold particular promise for magazines.
But Rich Greenfield at BTIG Research has spotted something equally significant: existing print subscribers to the Time Inc-owned publication will be able to access People on the iPad for no extra cost. Read more