Disney and Hulu Make Pact

hulu disAfter months of rumors, it’s official. Disney has hopped on the Hulu bandwagon.  Subject to regulatory approval, Disney will take an equity stake in the video aggregrator/distributor alongside News Corp, NBC/Universal and Providence Equity Partners (which bought its stake in 2007).

In exchange for the equity, Disney will give Hulu the rights to broadcast full length programs from ABC’s catalog including Prime Time hits, and classics. Access will span the ABC Family, SoapNet, ABC and Disney Channel brands.

The deal will put three major networks (NBC, ABC and Fox) side by side in a joint video distribution platform.   When it comes to online distribution of feature length TV content, the deal will make Hulu, “Network 1.”

That may not bode well for YouTube Click to Read More

Google Book Search Settlement Review Extended

In October, Google announced the settlement of a three year copyright battle over its practices of scanning and displaying books at Google Book Search. 

With high level soundbytes, the deal was billed as an achievement.  Richard Sarnoff, Chairman of the Association of American Publishers, characterized it as a “win for everyone.”  All that was necessary to go forward was court approval and that was considered a formality scheduled for May 5th.   Turns out, that timetable was a little optimistic.

On Tuesday, responding to objections made by a number of authors, Judge Denny Chin of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York extended the settlement’s review period until September 4th and scheduled a final fairness hearing for October 7th, 2009.

The authors had expressed concern that the original schedule didn’t provide enough time to review the complex settlement’s terms.  They requested six more months.   Google and the Author’s Guild, the core parties of the settlement, thought a sixty day extension should be enough.  The judge split the difference.

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Staffing Report: More Changes at MySpace, New Chip Specialist at Apple

staff report metueLast week, new News Corp digital chief Jon Miller began reassigning offices at MySpace.  Founder Chris DeWolfe was out, and former Facebook Chief Revenue Officer Owen Van Natta was in as CEO.

This week, the process continued.  Van Natta started today and more management moves followed. Tops among the new hires: Mike Jones, formerly of Time Warner and several startups, joins the group as Chief Operating Officer.

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Kindle’s Margins? Teardown Yields Clues

kindle image metueAmazon beat the street Thursday with a 24% gain in earnings and operating margins well ahead of expectations but true to form, the company broke out little detail on its high buzz, in-house, product, the Kindle.

Kindle is a tiny part of Amazon’s larger retail and services businesses and at this point, the company is choosing to keep the product’s performance metrics under wraps.   Fortunately, for those looking for color, iSuppli recently completed a tear-down of the eBook reader.  The results can’t shine a light on sales totals or consumer demand but they do give a hint at the margins Kindle’s making on hardware sales.

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Microsoft Posts Q3 Earnings

metue earnings wrap imageLast week under the weight of the economy Google reported its first sequential drop in revenue since going public in 2004.  Thursday, Microsoft revealed similar wounds.

Hurt by weak PC sales, the company posted its first year over year revenue decline in twenty three years.

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Netflix Q1 Earnings: The Quick Look

Netflix earnings came in Thursday straddling expectations.  Analysts had called for 41 cents a share on revenues of $390m. The company delivered 37 cents on revenue of $394m.  Despite the differences, Netflix first quarter profit was up 68% compared to Q1 of 2008.  Revenue was up 21%.

Weak ad markets and growing consumer appetite for entertainment helped the company deliver impressive subscriber growth and reduced subscriber acquisition costs.   Netflix closed the quarter with 10.31m subscribers, a 25% year over year expansion.  Subscriber acquisition costs were $25.79 per subscriber compared to $29.48 last year and $26.67 in Q4 2008.

Gross margin for Q1 was 34.2% compared to 31.7% in Q1 2008, and 35.2% in Q4 2008.  Free cash flow for the first quarter came in at $15.1 compared to $4.8m for the same period a year ago.

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It’s a billion. Apple Application Store Achieves Milestone

app billion apple tropy metueThe iPhone is a great device, there’s no denying its innovations but the phone’s greatest competitive advantage may well be the platform not the product.  A few minutes ago,  Apple’s supporting “App Store” passed a billion downloads. 

A billion downloads in about nine months?  That translates to an estimated 37 million customers (representing Apple’s disclosure for combined iPhone and iPod Touch unit sales), downloading 27 programs a piece – and with no sign of slowing down. 

It took Apple six months to hit 500m in January.  It took only three months, to double up.

Apple will no doubt promote the achievement, but even without any hype – it’s staggering.  It’s hard to think of any product or service (technology or otherwise) that’s had that kind of consumer uptake in comparable scale and speed.

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