July 4, 2020

Viacom Strikes Deal With Amazon to Stream Children’s Shows

On Tuesday, Viacom and Amazon announced an extensive, multiyear deal that includes granting Amazon exclusive rights to Nickelodeon’s preschool shows. The agreement — which one analyst estimated to be worth several hundred million dollars — signals that the heated battle for online streaming rights has increasingly moved to television’s youngest viewers.

In April, Netflix said it would allow its deal with Viacom to expire. Then last month Netflix struck a deal with the Walt Disney Company to gain exclusive rights to stream Disney Jr. series like “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” and Disney XD’s “Tron: Uprising.” In 2011, Netflix introduced its “Just for Kids” menu with a selection of shows and movies aimed at children, or parents looking to entertain them.

That put pressure on Amazon to secure children’s programming for its Amazon Prime subscription service, which it hopes will compete with Netflix and Hulu in the streaming video market.

As part of the deal announced on Tuesday, Amazon also secured the rights to stream shows that are first broadcast on Viacom’s Comedy Central and MTV, including some episodes of “Jersey Shore” and “Teen Mom 2.” But the key to the agreement is making Amazon’s Prime Instant Video subscription service the exclusive outlet for preschool-aged children to watch old episodes of shows like “Dora the Explorer,” “Go, Diego, Go!” and “The Backyardigans.” Since children do not mind reruns as much as adults do, deals for these types of shows often cost less than series aimed at adults.

Bill Carr, Amazon’s vice president of digital video and music, said in a statement that children’s programming was “one of the most-watched TV genres on Prime Instant Video.”

In a letter to customers, Jeffrey P. Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive, said the deal gave Prime Instant Video more than 250 TV seasons and more than 3,900 episodes from Nick Jr., Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central. “We have increased by 55 percent the number of episodes available to top Prime shows for kids,” Mr. Bezos wrote. The deal, he said, added “400 episodes of new shows such as ‘Team Umizoomi,’ ‘Bubble Guppies,’ ‘Victorious,’ ‘Big Time Rush’ and ‘Drake Josh.’”

Amazon Prime members pay $79 a year for two-day free shipping, monthly Kindle e-book rentals and video streaming. The company has said it has millions of Prime subscribers but has declined to give an exact figure. Netflix has 27 million streaming subscribers in the United States. Hulu’s subscription service, Hulu Plus, has about four million.

“Amazon has created a unique, brand-friendly environment for streaming entertainment and consumer products,” said Philippe Dauman, chief executive of Viacom. He added: “We are excited to work with Amazon to bring customers shows they love.”

In the past, Viacom has had a complicated relationship with subscription video on-demand services like Netflix. After an unexpected ratings drop at its Nickelodeon channel last year, Viacom partly blamed a glut of old episodes available to Netflix for cannibalizing the cable channel’s ratings. Children increasingly watch shows via streaming, but revenue from digital syndication deals still doesn’t come close to that provided by advertisers who pay to reach viewers the old-fashioned way.

In the quarter that ended March 31, advertising revenue at Nickelodeon and Nick. Jr. rose 2 percent as the network rebounded with preschool audiences. Mr. Dauman said a fresh pipeline of shows had improved Nickelodeon’s ratings. As advertising revenue grows on the cable channel, Mr. Dauman has defended deals with digital subscription streaming services as good for both parties. “We’re getting nice revenues through these subscription” video-on-demand deals, he recently told analysts.

Viacom will need to make an additional $125 million to $150 million in streaming deals in fiscal year 2013 to meet its goal of 10 percent affiliate growth, according to Bernstein Research.

Amazon has rapidly built its streaming service to compete with more established services, namely Netflix and Hulu. The Viacom deal is the latest example of the online retailing giant’s swooping in to gain streaming rights after deals with Netflix expire.

After Netflix declined to renew its rights to popular cable series like “Pawn Stars,” Amazon jumped in. In December, Amazon struck a deal with Time Warner to gain the exclusive streaming rights to TNT’s “The Closer” and “Falling Skies.” Netflix got exclusive rights to TNT’s “Dallas.”

Amazon and CBS have a deal that will let Prime subscribers watch “Under the Dome,” a new science fiction series based on the Stephen King novel, four days after episodes are broadcast on CBS beginning June 24.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/05/business/media/viacom-strikes-deal-with-amazon-to-stream-childrens-shows.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Aereo Wins Appeal; Trial Likely for Streaming TV

In a 2-to-1 ruling, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit found that Aereo’s streams of TV shows to individual subscribers did not constitute “public performances,” and thus the broadcasters’ copyright infringement lawsuits against the service “are not likely to prevail on the merits.”

The appeals court affirmed an earlier district court decision that denied the broadcasters a preliminary injunction against Aereo. The broadcasters, including CBS Corporation, Comcast, News Corporation and the Walt Disney Company, filed two suits against Aereo more than a year ago, weeks before the service was made available to residents of New York City last March.

They asserted that the service was illegal. But courts have now ruled against them on two occasions, giving momentum to Aereo as it tries to expand to other major metropolitan areas.

A spokeswoman for Aereo declined to comment on Monday morning, saying the company was still assessing the appeals court ruling.

CBS, one of the plaintiffs, said in a statement, “As the courts continue to consider this case and others like it, we are confident that the rights of content owners will be recognized, and that we will prevail.”

A group of other broadcasters, including Fox and PBS, said: “Today’s decision is a loss for the entire creative community. The court has ruled that it is O.K. to steal copyrighted material and retransmit it without compensation. While we are disappointed with this decision, we have and are considering our options to protect our programming.” The broadcasters said they would move ahead toward a trial.

While the broadcasters have lost in New York’s federal courts so far, they have won a district court case in California last December against an Aereo-like service named Aereokiller, backed by the billionaire Alkiviades David.

Aereo is backed by a number of venture capitalists, chief among them Barry Diller, who created the Fox network for the News Corporation 30 years ago. Mr. Diller’s IAC/InterActiveCorp led a $20.5 million round of financing for Aereo after Mr. Diller met with its founder, Chet Kanojia, and came away convinced that the legal underpinnings of the service could withstand legal scrutiny.

Aereo is able to stream broadcast stations by operating an array of tiny antennas that pick up over-the-airwaves signals. Then it gives subscribers control over one antenna and streams the selected programming over the Internet, essentially turning the subscriber’s phone or tablet into a small television set, but without the rabbit ears that would normally be needed.

The array of antennas has become known as the “Aereo loophole,” for it allows Aereo to avoid paying the retransmission fees that operators like Time Warner Cable and DirecTV pay for access to stations. Those fees are an increasingly important revenue source for the stations, so it is not surprising their owners have sued to protect them.

Aereo also includes a remote digital video recorder feature, not unlike the remote DVR system that was operated by Cablevision and was upheld in court several years ago.

Judge Christopher F. Droney pointed to that decision as he affirmed the previous court ruling in favor of Aereo.

Another appeals court judge, Denny Chin, dissented on Monday, calling Aereo’s antenna workaround “a Rube Goldberg-like contrivance, overengineered in an attempt to avoid the reach of the Copyright Act and to take advantage of a perceived loophole in the law.” He concluded that the Aereo streams to subscribers were “public performances” and thus violations of copyright.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/02/business/media/aereo-wins-in-appeals-court-setting-stage-for-trial-on-streaming-broadcast-tv.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Media Decoder Blog: The Breakfast Meeting: ABC Works on a Streaming App and British Newspapers Protest Regulations

The Walt Disney Company is working on an app that would stream ABC programming to the tablets and phones of cable and satellite subscribers, Brian Stelter reports. ABC would be the first of the American broadcaster to provide such an app, and it is likely to result in a mixture of awe and fear from other networks. Disney already has streaming apps for content from ESPN and the Disney Channel, but special complexities exist for networks like ABC because of older contracts with companies that produce its shows and local stations, which might feel threatened by the app. It is not yet clear what the app would mean for online streaming services like Hulu, which does not require viewers to subscribe and has grown increasingly marginalized as its parent companies (including Disney) seek more lucrative revenue streams.

An array of British newspapers on Tuesday protested an attempt to impose stricter curbs on them, Stephen Castle and Alan Cowell write. The agreement announced by lawmakers on Monday creates a system under which newspapers would face a tough regulatory body that could order corrections be published prominently and impose large fines on publications that breach standards. The deal enshrines the regulator’s powers in a royal charter, the same document that governs the BBC and the Bank of England. The newspaper society, which represents 1,100 newspapers, said that the possibility of fines of up to $1.5 million would prove “crippling” for their struggling publications.

Much of the entertainment world’s metabolism has sped up, but major film productions often still lurch forward at a zombie’s pace, Michael Cieply reports. A case in point is the forthcoming “World War Z,” a zombie movie to be released in June that seems timely given the success of undead fare like AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” But Paramount Pictures acquired the rights to the novel “World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War” with Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment in 2006, just one example of a Hollywood system that mires its biggest films in an ever-lengthening process.  Whether these delayed releases make films miss the mark is an open question, but it is a fact that this year the release schedules feature at least eight high-budget films that were conceived five to 14 years ago.

Marriott International is using the release of the new movie “42,” about Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color line, to promote its loyalty program for African-Americans, Jane L. Levere reports. The campaign involves a Facebook contest, special screenings of the film and promotion of “42” on hotel room TVs, among other initiatives, and marks the first time Marriott has done niche marketing for the program, called Marriott Rewards. Apoorva Gandhi, vice president for multicultural markets and alliances at Marriott International, said that the movie was a good fit because it matches Marriott’s fundamental values (interestingly enough, Marriott Rewards also has 42 million members globally).

The media truism “if it bleeds, it leads,” appears to be undermined by social networks, John Tierney writes. A number of different studies show that social media users are more likely to share uplifting stories, perhaps because they are more concerned with how stories make their friends feel than a traditional media company. One study on the dissemination of thousands of articles from The New York Times Web site found that readers were more likely to share articles they found exciting or funny, or that inspired negative emotions like anger or anxiety, but not ones that just left them sad. But the more positive an article, the more likely it was to be shared.

The BBC confirmed plans to sell the Lonely Planet travel guidebooks to a reclusive American billionaire on Tuesday, drawing internal scrutiny for losing public money on the sale, Eric Pfanner writes. BBC Worldwide sold Lonely Planet for £51.5 million, or $77.3 million, far below the £130 million that the BBC paid for Lonely Planet. At the time of the purchase the BBC talked about extending Lonely Planet into digital channels, an area where traditional guidebooks face stiff competition from travel Web sites.

Air New Zealand has enlisted Bear Grylls, the bug-eating, urine-drinking adventurer best known for the survival show “Man vs. Wild,” to liven up that pariah of in-flight entertainment, the onboard safety video, Bettina Wassener reports. The airline’s video features Mr. Grylls running, crawling and rappelling. At one point he leaps into a raging river to demonstrate the efficacy of the plane’s life jackets. These attempts to spice up the safety-spiel are a relatively new development, with Virgin America one of the first companies to try in 2007.

Article source: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/19/the-breakfast-meeting-abc-works-on-a-streaming-app-and-british-newspapers-protest-regulations/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Media Decoder Blog: Costs at ESPN Depress Disney Profits

LOS ANGELES – Higher costs at ESPN and lower DVD sales resulted in a 6 percent decline in quarterly profit at Disney, the company said on Tuesday. But Disney’s video game and Web unit finally swung to the black and the conglomerate steered attention toward potential future growth fueled by the “Star Wars” franchise.

Robert A. Iger, chairman and chief executive of the Walt Disney Company, speaking on CNBC shortly after the market’s close, said that Disney’s newly acquired Lucasfilm division would produce “a few” additional movies in the coming years that feature characters and stories from the “Star Wars” universe.

Lawrence Kasdan, known for his work on “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi,” and Simon Kinberg, a screenwriter whose credits include “Sherlock Holmes,” are both working on the “stand-alone” films, Mr. Iger said. Disney has previously announced plans to make installments seven, eight and nine in the “Star Wars” saga over a six-year period starting in 2015.

Investors and analysts had been expecting a bumpy quarter. Disney made the unusual decision in November to note publicly some of its upcoming difficulties, like higher ESPN programming costs and a calendar quirk that would hurt theme parks by moving part of the New Year’s holiday into a different quarter.

Even so, Disney beat Wall Street estimates of 76 cents a share. For the quarter, which ended on Dec. 29, Disney reported net income of $1.38 billion, or 77 cents a share, down from $1.46 billion, or 80 cents a share, in the same quarter a year earlier. Excluding one-time charges and gains, Disney reported 79 cents a share for the most recent quarter, the first in the company’s fiscal year.

Revenue climbed 5 percent, to $11.3 billion.

ESPN had a significant impact on Disney’s quarter, with programming expenses increasing for football and basketball. Those costs held back results for Disney’s media networks unit, which houses the cable sports behemoth; operating income there increased a tepid 2 percent, to $1.21 billion. The growth came from Disney Channel, ABC Family and higher ad sales at the ABC broadcast network.

The biggest drag on Disney’s quarter, however, came from Walt Disney Studios, which reported a 43 percent drop in operating income, to $234 million. The problem involved comparability: DVD sales for “Brave” and “Cinderella” were slight compared with disc releases in the same period a year earlier, notably “Cars 2” and “The Lion King.”

Theme parks continued to be a bright spot. Operating income in Disney’s parks and resorts division, watched as a barometer of the broader economy, increased 4 percent in the most recent quarter, to $577 million. Higher attendance at Disneyland Resort in California, where a “Cars”-themed area opened last summer, contributed to the growth, as did strong bookings on the company’s Fantasy cruise ship.

Interactive media, a business unit that includes video games and Disney.com, swung to an operating profit of $9 million after 16 consecutive quarters of losses. The company cited growth from Disney-branded cellphones in Japan as part of the reason.

Article source: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/05/costs-at-espn-depress-disney-profits/?partner=rss&emc=rss

‘Escape From Tomorrow,’ at Sundance, Scrutinizes Disney

PARK CITY, Utah — Is Randy Moore’s new movie about a father going insane at Walt Disney World simply cinematic art? Or is Mickey Mouse about to get very, very mad at Mr. Moore?

A betting person would put some chips on anger after his movie’s premiere at the Sundance Film Festival here over the weekend.

Mr. Moore, without permission from Disney, filmed “Escape From Tomorrow” inside its theme parks and hotels in Florida and California. If that wasn’t gutsy enough, his film is a horror fantasy that harshly critiques Disney’s style of mass entertainment. It’s not the Happiest Place on Earth in his movie. Not by a long shot.

The movie, while careful to leave out certain copyrighted material (like the “It’s a Small World” song), would seem to test the limits of fair use in copyright law. It has a lot of Disney iconography: Mr. Moore, a first-time director and the movie’s screenwriter, filmed inside at least eight rides, and a lengthy sequence involves the line for a Buzz Lightyear attraction.

How did Mr. Moore get away with it? After all, his cast and crew went on the It’s a Small World ride at least 12 times, filming all the way with high-tech (albeit small) video recorders. “I was surprised the ride operators weren’t a little more savvy,” he said.

“Escape From Tomorrow” underscores the difficulties confronting Disney, intensely vigilant about its intellectual property, as it tries to control the imagery flowing from its parks as people are shooting increasing amounts of video with their smartphones. Disney has followed an increasingly patient approach, allowing video taken inside its rides, for instance, to be uploaded to YouTube. But that video is usually extremely positive.

A spokeswoman for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts had no comment.

The company undoubtedly knows it is in a sticky position. A strong reaction could only play into Mr. Moore’s hand, giving the movie free publicity and helping it find a larger audience. “How are you going to release this?” a reporter (not this one) asked after the premiere to John Sloss, a lawyer and longtime sales agent seeking a distributor for the movie. “Disney is one of the most litigious companies on earth.”

Mr. Sloss responded, “Bring it on,” saying later he was joking.

“Escape From Tomorrow” is about a family of four setting out to spend a day of fun at Walt Disney World. They ride the teacups and pose for pictures at Cinderella Castle, but Dad (Roy Abramsohn) starts to go bonkers after receiving a phone call from his boss. He drools over under-age girls, thinks animatronic figures are evil and coming to life, and pretends to shoot himself with a fake Frontierland rifle.

There is a gruesome vomiting scene, a creepy obese guy on a motorized scooter and a sequence at Disney’s Epcot theme park in which Mr. Abramsohn’s character is Tasered. He is then taken to a secret room underneath Epcot’s Spaceship Earth sphere — referred to in the film as “the giant testicle” — and brainwashed. Ultimately he suffers a bloody death at Disney’s Contemporary Resort hotel.

“You can’t be happy all the time,” one character says near the film’s end. “It’s just not possible.”

Is Mr. Moore worried about Disney’s reaction? “Yes,” he said.

This kind of tiny, arty Sundance movie used to have little chance of exposure beyond the festival, which attracts about 47,000 people. But the rise of video-on-demand services, on the Web and through cable and satellite providers, means that independent film audiences around the world will likely have a chance to see “Escape From Tomorrow.” Social media and instant online reviews are already spreading the word.

“A daring attempt to literally assail Disney World from the inside out,” IndieWire.com said in its review.

Introducing “Escape From Tomorrow” before its premiere Trevor Groth, the festival’s programming chief, called the film “wildly imaginative” and labeled Mr. Moore a “visionary.” Mr. Groth, in an interview later, compared Mr. Moore to the avant-garde director David Lynch.

“ ‘Escape From Tomorrow’ perfectly embodies what we try to celebrate here, which is a truly distinctive singular vision,” Mr. Groth said.

Mr. Moore made the film for less than $1 million with an inheritance from his grandparents. His cast and crew spent about 10 days filming at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., and two weeks at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., he said. The credits mention over 200 people, although only small groups entered the Disney parks at any one time to avoid attracting attention.

Still, there were moments during filming that Disney clearly knew something was up, Mr. Moore said. “I think they probably just thought we were crazy fans making a YouTube video, which is something that happens a fair amount,” he said. He added: “Look, I have amazing memories as a kid from going to the parks. I think Walt Disney was a genius. I just wish his vision hadn’t grown into something quite so corporate.”

It may be cold comfort, but Disney’s is not the only theme park operation on which Sundance films are casting a harsh spotlight. “Blackfish,” a documentary by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, looks at the 2010 killing of a trainer by an orca at SeaWorld in Orlando. It had its premiere on Saturday and is billed by Sundance in a catalog as exposing “the species’s cruel treatment in captivity” and the “growing disillusionment of workers who were misled and endangered by the highly profitable sea-park industry.”

Fred Jacobs, a SeaWorld spokesman, said in an e-mail: “Until we see the film for ourselves, we won’t be able to comment. I will say, however, that we set the highest standards for the care of our animals.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/21/movies/escape-from-tomorrow-at-sundance-scrutinizes-disney.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Media Decoder Blog: Disney Buying Lucasfilm for $4 Billion

George Lucas in 2005, flanked by stormtroopers from his Richard Lewis/European Pressphoto Agency George Lucas in 2005, flanked by stormtroopers from his “Star Wars” films.

8:22 p.m. | Updated LOS ANGELES — The Walt Disney Company, in a move that gives it a commanding position in the world of fantasy movies, said Tuesday it had agreed to acquire Lucasfilm from its founder, George Lucas, for $4.05 billion in stock and cash.

The sale provides a corporate home for a private company that grew from Mr. Lucas’s hugely successful “Star Wars” movie series, and became an enduring force in the creation of effects-driven science fiction entertainment for large and small screens. Mr. Lucas, who is 68 years old, had already announced he would step down from day-to-day operation of the company.

Combined with the purchase of Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion in 2009 and of Pixar Animation Studios for $7.4 billion in 2006, the acquisition solidifies Disney’s status as a leader in animation and superhero films. And it strengthens the legacy of Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chief executive, who has become known for his aggressive expansion of the company since taking charge in 2005.

Mr. Iger is set to step down as chief executive in March 2015, but will remain with Disney in a lesser role under an employment deal he reached with Disney last year.

Like the Marvel acquisition, the Lucasfilm purchase caught Hollywood and Wall Street by surprise. It was announced on Tuesday afternoon, while the New York Stock Exchange was closed because of Hurricane Sandy.

In a hastily convened conference call with investors late Tuesday, Mr. Iger said Disney planned to revive the Star Wars franchise and release a seventh feature film in the series in 2015, with new films coming every two or three years thereafter. Mr. Lucas will be a consultant on the film projects, Mr. Iger said.

Mr. Iger said Disney acquired a detailed treatment for the next three “Star Wars” films as part of the acquisition. He noted that the last film in the series, “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith,” was released in 2005, a period that he said has created “pent-up demand.”

Jay Rasulo, the company’s chief financial officer, said Disney’s financial calculations in agreeing to purchase Lucasfilm were driven almost entirely by the potential of the “Star Wars” series, which already has a place in the Disney theme parks. Lynne Hale, a spokeswoman for Mr. Lucas, said he was on a flight back to San Francisco from Los Angeles and could not immediately be reached. “It’s now time for me to pass ‘Star Wars’ on to a new generation of filmmakers,” Mr. Lucas said in a statement.

The companies said Disney would pay approximately half of the purchase price in cash, and would issue about 40 million shares of stock to cover the balance when the deal closes. Mr. Rasulo said Disney expects within two years to repurchase those shares. Lucasfilm, he said, should begin enhancing Disney’s earnings by 2015.

With the acquisition, Disney will acquire Lucasfilm’s live-action production business, along with its Industrial Light Magic effects business, its Skywalker Sound audio operation and its consumer products unit, among other things. Ms. Hale noted that Mr. Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch and other physical properties in Marin County, Calif., were not part of the deal, and would remain with Mr. Lucas.

Kathleen Kennedy, a longtime associate of Steven Spielberg who recently agreed to become co-chairwoman of Lucasfilm, will now be its president, reporting to Alan F. Horn, the chairman of Disney’s movie studio.

Lucasfilm is based in San Francisco, and now, in combination with Pixar — which operates across the San Francisco Bay in Emeryville — it will give Disney, based in Burbank, a major presence in Northern California.

After the release of the first “Star Wars” film in 1977, Mr. Lucas’s Industrial Light Magic took the lead in developing effects technologies that were used in a generation of science fiction and fantasy films. Eventually, other companies, including Weta Digital, a New Zealand company co-owned by the filmmaker Peter Jackson, rose to prominence in that field.

Asked about the future of Industrial Light Magic, Mr. Iger said: “Our current thinking is we would let it remain as is.” In a later interview, Mr. Iger said Disney would be prudent in handling the Lucas operations, but was also mindful of the need to “reap the value” it sees there.

Along with “Star Wars” and its many iterations on movie screens, in television programming, in video games and elsewhere, Mr. Lucas has been a partner in the “Indiana Jones” series, and, occasionally, in an unrelated film, like “Willow,” though Disney executives said they were not relying on those films for future profit.

Mr. Rasulo told analysts that Lucasfilm’s consumer products licensing revenue, about $215 million this year, is roughly comparable to the amount of licensing revenue Marvel had when Disney bought it three years ago.

Currently, Mr. Rasulo added, Lucasfilm’s licensing revenue comes mostly from toys and heavily from North America. Disney, he said, is positioned to extend the licensing business to other products and to strengthen it internationally.

Asked by an analyst about Mr. Lucas’s reasons for selling at this point, Mr. Iger said, “I don’t want to put words in George’s mouth.” But he noted that Mr. Lucas has said he began planning his retirement four or five years ago.

Speaking later, Mr. Iger said talks were conducted personally between Mr. Lucas and himself, and began about a year and a half ago in Orlando, Fla., where the two spent time while reopening a “Star Wars” attraction at Disney World.

Of Mr. Lucas’s willingness to put his creative legacy in Disney’s hands, Mr. Iger said: “There was a lot of trust there.”

A version of this article appeared in print on 10/31/2012, on page B1 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Disney Is Buying Lucasfilm.

Article source: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/30/disney-buying-lucas-films-for-4-billion/?partner=rss&emc=rss

DealBook: Crowd-Funding Merger Points to Ambitions in Latin America

SAO PAULO — Buenos Aires-based crowd-funding site Ideame has acquired Brazilian company Movere, in a deal that may prompt more consolidation in this sector in Latin America.

One-year-old Ideame said it had acquired 100 percent of Movere’s shares in exchange for 15 percent of Ideame’s stock, valued at about $ 2.5 million. Movere, based in Rio de Janeiro, is thought to be Brazil’s second largest crowd-funding site.

While most Latin America’s crowd-funding sites are country-specific, Ideame is trying to become a top player for the entire region. It started at the same time in Argentina, Chile, and Mexico.

The Ideame acquisition comes as the popularity and success of Kickstarter in the United States has been fueling the development of similar sites throughout the world.

Kickstarter, backed by Union Square Ventures, recently said that it would expand to Britain this year but for now it operates only in the United States. While anyone in the world can fund projects on the site, only United States residents can create them because of the requirements of the payment provider, Amazon.com.

Kickstarter declined to comment if it had plans to expand to Latin America.

Ideame registered 117,000 total unique visitors in July, according to comScore data. (The company did not exist last July.) Brazil’s leading crowd-sourcing site, Catarse, notched 104,000 from 21,000 in July 2011. In comparison, Kickstarters’ Web traffic in Latin America grew to 194,000 last month, from 31,000 total unique visitors in July 2011.

Ideame was founded in 2011. One of the founders, Mariano Suarez Battan, previously founded Buenos Aires-based Three Melons, which was sold to Playdom in 2010 before The Walt Disney Company acquired Playdom. Another founder, Tiburcio de la Carcova co-founded Chile-based Atakama Labs, sold to Japan’s DeNA last year.

The two other founders are Juan Pablo Cappello, a Chilean lawyer, and Eduardo Costantini Jr., a filmmaker and son of the founder of the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, or Malba.

The company’s investors, who have raised more than $1 million, include the founders and Lawence Benenson, who is with Benenson Capital Partners and a trustee at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Others include Andy Kleinman, former head of Zynga’s Latin America operations, and Wences Casares, Lemon co-founder and iconic figure for Latin American entrepreneurs.

Movere said in its first 15 months it received more than $300,000 in funds pledged. Out of 143 projects, 60 reached their funding goal. The two companies combined have $420,000 pledged.

Ideame had also initially registered in Brazil, contemplating growing here solo. But Mr. Cappello said in an interview that they ultimately decided that “ Brazil is not a market that goes well when you don’t have a local presence.”

One challenge Ideame faces in becoming a regional crowd-funding player is integrating payment systems which vary from country to country.

For example, it uses Dineromail for Chile and Mexico, MercadoPago for Argentina, and MoIP for Brazil.

Rebecca Plofker, Ideame’s business development head said in an interview that it now has an agreement with PayPal for transactions across countries and 20 percent of their contributions currently use the service, a figure she expects to increase.

Article source: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/08/24/crowd-funding-merger-points-to-ambitions-in-latin-america/?partner=rss&emc=rss

The Downfall of a Disney Marketing Executive

Except for M T Carney, Walt Disney Studios’ new president of movie marketing. She wore white pants and white Chanel flats.

A rookie mistake; no big deal: Ms. Carney, 42, had been hired six months earlier and had zero movie experience, coming from a New York marketing agency specializing in packaged goods. But the anecdote ricocheted around the catty movie business, giving visual reinforcement to a judgment that most power players had already made: she’s not one of us.

Despite successful ad campaigns since then for films like “The Muppets” and “The Help,” Ms. Carney has still not found her footing, and Disney appears to have concluded that she never will. The studio has sought to replace her in recent months, making an offer to at least one marketing executive at a rival studio who declined, according to people with knowledge of the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the recruitment was private.

For her part, Ms. Carney has made it clear to Disney that she would like to return the focus of her career to New York, where her two young children attend school under the care of her former husband. Disney and Ms. Carney declined to comment, but Disney insiders expect her to leave or shift to a lesser role sooner rather than later.

Ms. Carney is not a household name, but she holds what is perhaps Hollywood’s most influential marketing position because it includes selling films worldwide from, in addition to Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Mr. Spielberg’s DreamWorks Studios. Should she depart, it may say more about the insularity of the movie industry and its resistance to innovation than her marketing talents, which by many accounts are considerable.

“Film is the single most difficult industry for an outside marketer to crack,” said Peter Sealey, a former Columbia Pictures marketing chief who co-wrote the book “Not on My Watch: Hollywood vs. the Future.” He would know: he was a star marketer at Coca-Cola, which sent him to Hollywood after it bought Columbia in 1982. It was a rocky transition, but he lasted six years with support from Coke — better results than marketers brought in by studios over the years from Burger King and McDonald’s.

“It’s a clubby, inbred culture that still operates on instinct over research and an almost religious adherence to this-is-how-we-do-it tenets,” Mr. Sealey added.

Studios like Disney have an authentic desire to rein in runaway advertising costs and innovate with new types of marketing. They have no choice. Global advertising now costs at least $150 million for a major event film, but DVD sales continue to decline and attendance at North American theaters is at a 16-year low. Simultaneously, the traditional way of turning out a broad audience — TV commercials — has been undercut by the splintering of television viewing.

But producers, directors, actors and agents often balk at unusual approaches. They just want their film to be No. 1 at the box office on opening weekend, and prefer that marketing experiments be carried out with somebody else’s career.

“You need a psychiatrist if you think Steven Spielberg is going to trust M T to tell him how to sell his films,” said one Disney executive who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid angering his employer. (Ms. Carney goes by punctuation-free initials that stand for Marie Therese.)

Part of the challenge for outsiders involves a radical difference in timing. Studios have one opening weekend to persuade people to see a film. When marketing a new hamburger, however, months can be devoted to hooking people. Movie marketing involves dealing with emotional artists instead of more pragmatic business people. And it requires a distinctive type of vision: what is the movie and who is it for? The answer may be two radically different things.

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Media Decoder Blog: Disney Channel to Be Introduced in Russia

LOS ANGELES — The Walt Disney Company on Thursday said it had completed a deal to introduce the Disney Channel in Russia, one of the world’s last big untapped entertainment markets and one in which Disney has struggled to gain a foothold.

Disney said it would acquire 49 percent of SevenTV, a broadcast channel that reaches more than 75 percent of Russia’s television households. SevenTV, which will remain majority owned by United TV Holding Russia, will be rebranded as a Disney Channel and stocked with signature Disney children’s shows like “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” as well as programming created in Russia.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Western entertainment companies have stepped up efforts to penetrate Russia as their businesses in other parts of the world — in particular Europe and the United States — have slowed. One indication of how much promise the country holds can be seen in growth of ticket sales there for Disney movies. “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” took in $64 million in Russia over the summer; in 2007 “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” took in $30 million.

Television has long been crucial to Disney’s foreign expansion strategy. Typically, the company seeks to introduce the Disney Channel to a new market so it can deliver its brand directly into people’s homes — and in turn, use that foothold to foster interest in Disney movies, vacations in Disney theme parks, and a range of consumer products. The Disney Channel is available in 35 languages and 168 countries and territories.

But the Russian market has proved difficult to enter because of bureaucratic hurdles and restrictions on foreign media. Disney has operated a tiny cable channel in the country for several years, but the vast majority of Russians watch television on free broadcast channels like SevenTV.

Disney thought it had secured that kind of distribution in 2008, when it announced a tentative partnership to create a channel with Media-One Holdings Limited, a Russian broadcaster. But the deal fell apart when government regulators introduced barriers. Disney said it has preemptively worked through those issues with its SevenTV deal.

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For Apple, a Big Loss Requires a Balancing Act

The risk is this: How to follow the lessons Mr. Jobs imparted to his fellow Apple executives over the last 14 years without being trapped by his legacy and unable to adapt to future changes.

Timothy D. Cook, Mr. Jobs’s longtime lieutenant at Apple, captured the difficult balancing act in an e-mail he sent to all Apple employees in late August after taking over from Mr. Jobs as chief executive. “I want you to be confident that Apple is not going to change,” Mr. Cook wrote.

On one level, the message was an effort to reassure nervous Apple staff members that the commitment to innovation that Mr. Jobs established would not change, even if Mr. Jobs was no longer involved in Apple’s day-to-day operations. But management experts say change is often exactly what companies need as market conditions shift in the years after their founders are gone.

The Walt Disney Company is one cautionary tale. In the years after the death in 1966 of the entertainment company’s founder, the executives strived to stay true to Walt Disney’s spirit. For years, Mr. Disney’s old office was preserved like an untouched museum.

Its executives often praised corporate decision-making by saying, “Walt would have liked it.” But by the late 1970s, Disney was struggling after a string of box-office flops and was the subject of a hostile takeover attempt. It took the hiring of Michael Eisner and other top executives in the 1980s to revitalize Disney through more aggressive investments in animated filmmaking, theme parks and stores.

“Apple can’t fall into that,” said David Yoffie, a professor at the Harvard Business School. “It’s not, ‘What would Steve have done?’ That’s a recipe for problems.”

Mr. Yoffie said Mr. Cook had to “walk a fine line” in how he managed the transition into the post-Jobs era. “For most of the people at Apple, they have to have a sense that the creativity and enthusiasm of Steve will continue,” he said. “He’s got to send a signal to troops that the heart of Apple won’t change. Otherwise he risks losing talent.

“At the same time, Tim can’t be another Steve Jobs,” Mr. Yoffie continued. “At some level, the company will have to evolve. The way it evolves and the types of changes are yet to be understood, probably by Tim himself.”

For the moment, Mr. Jobs has left Apple with so much momentum in the market, with surging sales of products like the iPad and iPhone, that it is unlikely to face any huge immediate challenges. The day before Mr. Jobs died, Mr. Cook made his debut at the first public event since taking over the top post: the introduction of a new model of iPhone.

Rick Devine, an executive recruiter, said that the “market winds are at their back,” and that Mr. Cook is the best-qualified person to continue that success. “He knows that organization,” he said. “If there’s anyone who can keep that course, it’s him.”

Mr. Devine is familiar with Mr. Cook because he was the recruiter who introduced him to Mr. Jobs in 1998, when Mr. Jobs was looking for a seasoned executive to help him clean up Apple’s disorganized manufacturing operations. Mr. Jobs and Mr. Cook quickly hit it off when they met, as Mr. Jobs told Mr. Devine after their meeting.

“He said, ‘This is the guy,’ ” Mr. Devine said.

Mr. Jobs’s death left technology executives and legions of Apple fans struggling to imagine an industry without one of its founding fathers. Bill Gates, the Microsoft chairman and co-founder, said he would “miss Steve immensely.”

“The world rarely sees someone who has had the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come,” Mr. Gates said in a statement. “For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it’s been an insanely great honor.”

Consumers of Apple products expressed somewhat similar emotions on Wednesday.

Vansi Gadey, 30, a designer who works at a large technology company, was visiting the Apple store near Union Square in San Francisco, to charge his phone. He said: “I’m from India. In my childhood, Gandhi was an inspiration. After that, it’s been Steve Jobs.”

Burt Miller, 56, was on his way to a San Francisco Apple store to pick up some replacement parts when his wife called to tell him that Mr. Jobs had died. He said he was crushed. Mr. Miller, who works in construction, said he had followed the presentation of the new iPhone the day before and was convinced that Mr. Jobs had too. “I think he saw it and knew Apple was going to make it and he let go.”

Matt Richtel and Somini Sengupta contributed reporting.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/06/technology/for-apple-a-big-loss-requires-a-balancing-act.html?partner=rss&emc=rss