HBO Classics Coming to Amazon Prime (LostRemote)
Amazon is continuing its streaming-TV push, partnering with HBO on a multi-year deal to exclusively bring classic HBO shows to Amazon Prime subscribers, the two companies announced Wednesday. Variety Terms of the deal were not disclosed; it covers only the U.S. Under the agreement, Amazon has exclusive SVOD rights for select HBO programming and will make the first wave of it available to Prime subscribers beginning May 21. That includes full seasons of The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, The Wire, Big Love, Deadwood, Eastbound & Down, Family Tree, Enlightened, Treme, early seasons of Boardwalk Empire and True Blood, as well as miniseries like Band of Brothers and John Adams. GigaOM Some of HBO’s newer shows will also be available, with a substantial delay: “Previous seasons of other HBO shows, such as Girls, The Newsroom and Veep will become available over the course of the multi-year agreement, approximately three years after airing on HBO.” In addition, Amazon said that it will add HBO Go to its recently launched streaming video box, Fire TV — “targeting a launch by year-end.” New York Post HBO’s coveted content has long been kept beyond reach of outside content bundles like Amazon and Netflix, and only available to subscribers. Amazon’s win will surely be viewed as a loss for Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, who still dominates the bundled streaming space, but who also recently announced a price increase for new subscribers. Amazon also increased its prices, but is also seeking to expand its customer base with Fire TV. THR Amazon Prime also has exclusive online-only subscription deals for PBS’ Downton Abbey and Mr. Selfridge, CBS’ Under The Dome and upcoming Halle Berry-headlined miniseries Extant as well as 24, Veronica Mars, Orphan Black, The Americans and Justified. But it has had less success with its own original series; neither Alpha House nor Betas has achieved the pop culture significance of Netflix’s Kevin Spacey drama House of Cards.
In Policy Shift, FCC Will Allow A Web Fast Lane (NYT)
The principle that all Internet content should be treated equally as it flows through cables and pipes to consumers looks all but dead. Companies like Disney, Google or Netflix will be allowed to pay Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Comcast and Verizon for special, faster lanes to send video and other content to their customers under new rules to be proposed by the Federal Communications Commission, the agency said on Wednesday. The proposed rules are a change for the agency on what is known as net neutrality — the idea that no providers of legal Internet content should be discriminated against in providing their offerings to consumers and that users should have equal access to see any legal content they choose. Mother Jones ISPs won’t be allowed to deliberately slow down traffic from specific sites, but that’s about all that’s left of net neutrality. Once you’ve approved the notion of two-tier service, it hardly matters whether you’re speeding up some of the sites or slowing down others. NPR / The Two-Way Free Press, which advocates for an Internet in which all traffic is treated equally, said in a statement that the FCC proposal would break the Internet. “With this proposal, the FCC is aiding and abetting the largest ISPs in their efforts to destroy the open Internet,” Free Press president and CEO Craig Aaron said. “Giving ISPs the green light to implement pay-for-priority schemes will be a disaster for startups, nonprofits and everyday Internet users who cannot afford these unnecessary tolls.” The Verge The government is too afraid to say it, but the Internet is a utility. The data that flows to your home is just like water and electricity: it’s not a luxury or an option in 2014. The FCC’s original Open Internet rules failed precisely because it was too timid to say that out loud and instead erected rules on a sketchy legal sinkhole that was destined to fail.
Q1 Earnings: Gannett Same-Station Revenue Up 19.6 Percent (TVSpy)
Gannett Co. reported a 19.6 percent increase in broadcasting revenues on a same-station basis for the first quarter of 2014. HuffPost / AP Revenue at the company’s broadcast division nearly doubled to $382.3 million, mainly as a result of its recent Belo acquisition. It also got a boost from higher advertising demand stemming from the Winter Olympics and increased spending on political ads. The company’s retransmission revenue, which it receives from cable and satellite TV operators for allowing them to relay its broadcasts, was also higher. Poynter / MediaWire Despite these gains on the broadcasting side, revenue at Gannett’s publishing properties was down 3.3 percent overall for the quarter. Advertising revenue was down about 5 percent worldwide and about 6 percent in the U.S., and circulation revenue fell by 1.4 percent, which the company attributes in part to “lower circulation revenue at local domestic publishing operations.” USA Today Gannett said the net income attributable to the company for the quarter declined 43 percent year-over-year to $59.1 million after accounting for $69.6 million in interest expense.
Facebook Gets U.S. Antitrust Approval to Buy Oculus (Reuters)
Social network giant Facebook Inc. has won U.S. antitrust approval to buy Oculus VR Inc., a two-year-old maker of virtual reality goggles, the Federal Trade Commission said on Wednesday. AllFacebook Facebook said in its announcement of the $2 billion deal in March that more than 75,000 orders have been placed for Oculus Rift development kits, adding that it plans to help Oculus expand into verticals including communications, media and entertainment and education. Mashable Facebook also announced Wednesday that it handily beat Wall Street’s estimates for its first quarter and that its CFO, David Ebersman, is stepping down. Ebersman will be replaced by former Zynga CFO David Wehner. The company revenues climbed 72 percent to $2.5 billion for the quarter versus the consensus estimate of $2.36 billion. Earnings per share came in at $0.34, compared to the expected $0.24. WSJ The social network also continued to grow its user base with monthly active users increasing 15 percent, to 1.28 billion. Daily active users, which give investors a better indication of user engagement, rose 22 percent to 757 million. In both cases, growth accelerated in the three-month period compared with flat to lower growth in recent quarters. The percentage of users who log in to the service every day — therefore more valuable to Facebook because they look at more ads and enter more personal information that can be mined for ad targeting — grew 21 percent to 802 million.
CNN Digital Posts Strongest Month Ever in March 2014 (CNN)
Building off a busy news cycle, March 2014 marked the strongest month in history for CNN Digital Network. Users flocked to CNN for its extensive coverage of the Malaysian airliner, the conflict in Ukraine, Academy Awards, the Washington mudslide and other major news events. FishbowlDC According to a network release issued Wednesday afternoon, CNN secured 2.8 billion global page views, 1 million app page views and 274 million global video starts across platforms during March 2014. For the month, CNN Network reached 76 million unique visitors, compared to 56 million from the Huffington Post Media Group, 48 million from NBC News Digital, 40 million from USA Today, 37 million from CBS News, 33 million from Fox News Digital Network, and 32 million from New York Times Digital. Poynter / MediaWire CNN narrowed the gap between itself and Yahoo!-ABC News, which had 77 million uniques in March, in line with its average for the last six months.
Warner Bros. Creates New Live Action Digital Group (Re/code)
Warner Bros.’ TV studio is establishing a new unit that will create live-action shows that it plans on distributing digitally. Sam Register, who already runs the studio’s animation unit, will head up the live-action group as well. Variety The digital production initiative aims to work with existing WBTV talent as well as developing projects with outside creatives. In his new role as president of Warner Bros. Animation and Digital Series, Register reports to Peter Roth, WBTV Group prexy and chief content officer. THR Register was a producer and senior animation executive at Cartoon Network for 10 years before joining WBA, where he has supervised projects including The Tom And Jerry Show, the upcoming Be Cool Scooby-Doo! for Cartoon Network and Mike Tyson Mysteries for Adult Swim.
U.K., China Sign Long-Gestating Film Co-Production Treaty (Deadline London)
After agreeing in principle to support the conclusion of a co-production treaty last December, the U.K. and China have finally put pen to paper. Variety The treaty was signed Wednesday in Beijing by U.K. culture minister Ed Vaizey and vice minister Tong Gang of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television. The treaty means enhanced access to market for film-makers in the U.K. and China and that films that qualify under the treaty will be conferred with national status in both countries. THR It is hoped the treaty, brokered by the British Film Institute and flagged in advance of prime minister David Cameron’s visit last year to China, will open up the Chinese market for British cinema. China’s current quota system means just 34 foreign films a year are allowed in on a revenue-sharing basis. Under the agreement, qualifying co-productions will also be able to access sources of financing from both national governments, such as the U.K.’s film tax credit system and the U.K.’s public film fund, the BFI, as well as Chinese sources.
J.K. Rowling to Serve as Executive Producer for Casual Vacancy Mini-Series (GalleyCat)
HBO and BBC have scheduled production on an adaptation of her book, The Casual Vacancy, to begin this summer. Altogether, the team plans to create a three-hour-long mini-series. Variety Sarah Phelps (EastEnders) has penned the adaptation of the book about a seemingly idyllic English village where various factions are at war: rich vs. poor, teenagers vs. parents, wives vs. husbands, etc. Rowling is exec producing with Neil Blair, her partner in Bronte Film and Television. The BBC commissioned the project from the creator of the Harry Potter franchise shortly after its publication in 2012.
U.S. State Department Asks Russia to Release Vice News Reporter (TVNewser)
The U.S. State Department has asked Russia to release Vice News reporter Simon Ostrovsky, who’s being held captive by pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine. “We call on Russia to use its influence with these groups to secure the immediate and safe release of all hostages in eastern Ukraine,” State Dept. spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Wednesday. HuffPost Since early March, Ostrovsky has doggedly reported on the crisis in Ukraine and produced more than two dozen video dispatches chronicling the situation on the ground, from the tense standoff in Crimea to protests in Eastern Ukraine. The dispatches have often been heated, showing Ostrovsky encountering angry demonstrators and black-masked fighters. Vyacheslav Ponomarev, the self-appointed “People’s Mayor” of the Slovyansk, an eastern Ukrainian city under control of pro-Russia separatists, confirmed Tuesday that his forces had detained Ostrovsky.
AOL Launches Free Streaming Movies in Pact With Miramax (Variety)
AOL is now playing in the movie biz. The Internet media company inked a deal with Miramax to deliver a selection of its full-length films to U.S. users, available to watch for free (with ads) across a range of devices. The pact will lead up to the launch of a new “Movies” section that will be featured across the AOL On Network for video, which until now has comprised only short-form series and clips. GigaOM The Miramax catalog includes movies like Pulp Fiction, Chicago, Cinema Paradiso and Reservoir Dogs. AOL streamed 3.8 billion video ads to U.S. viewers in March, which makes it the second largest domestic video advertising platform.
Former CIA Director Hayden to Washington Times (FishbowlDC)
The Washington Times announced Wednesday that Gen. Michael Hayden, a retired four-star U.S. Air Force general and former director of both the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, will write a new bi-monthly column for the paper called “Inside Intelligence.” His first column will run April 30. Hayden is the latest in a string of big-named columnists to join TWT in recent months, including former House Majority leader Tom Delay, Christine O’Donnell and Tammy Bruce.
Mitzi Miller Named Ebony Editor-in-Chief (FishbowlNY)
Johnson Publishing has named Mitzi Miller the new editor-in-chief of Ebony. Miller was most recently editor-in-chief of Jet, where she had been since 2011. Wendy Wilson, currently the managing editor of Jet, will assume Miller’s duties. Miller’s appointment is effective immediately.
Star Jones, Donnie Deutsch And The Skinny on Wacoal’s Sexy New Ad Campaign (FishbowlNY / Lunch)
As Wednesdays at Michael’s go, it was a relatively quiet scene at 55th and Fifth Wednesday, but the joint was still packed with the usual suspects doing their power lunch thing. You know who they are by now, but your intrepid Lunch columnist is here to serve: Star Jones and Donnie Deutsch represented the talking head contingent, while Jeff Greenfield and Jerry Della Femina held court at their usual table (6) with pals Dr. Gerald Imber and Michael Kramer (the boys have been meeting for their weekly lunches for decades!)
Colbert Helps Letterman Beat Fallon in Late-Night Ratings (Mediaite)
Looks like David Letterman got the “Colbert Bump” Tuesday night. In Nielsen’s metered-market households, The Late Show scored a 2.5 rating, beating consistent front-runner The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, which had a 2.3. Jimmy Kimmel Live! was third with a 1.7. Colbert’s appearance on The Late Show Tuesday night was the first time he had sat down with Letterman after accepting the offer to replace him on CBS next year.
Christopher Mims Joins The Wall Street Journal (FishbowlNY)
Christopher Mims is joining The Wall Street Journal as a tech columnist. Mims will contribute a weekly column to the paper, along with columns, blog posts and more to WSJD.com, the Journal’s tech site. Mims comes to the Journal from Quartz, where he served as technology and science editor. His work has appeared in publications such as Wired, Scientific American, The Atlantic and Glamour.
What’s your all-time favorite book cover?
jackiehorsfall Drop City by T.C. Boyle. A star circle of naked bottoms.
Internshiphawk Pride & Prejudice
PubBones I would have to say the original version of THE GREAT GATSBY. Love those eyes!