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Morning Media Newsfeed: NBC Secures Olympics | AOL Earnings Fall Flat | Horowitz to Today

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NBC Secures Olympics Through 2032 (TVSpy)
NBCUniversal has acquired the rights to the Olympic Games through 2032. The new deal, valued at $7.65 billion, is the longest U.S. Olympic sports rights agreement in history. TVNewser NBC adds to the three Olympics it secured in an earlier deal: 2016 in Rio, 2018 in Pyeongchang and 2020 in Tokyo, with six more Summer and Winter Olympics through 2032, the host cities of which have not yet been selected. Adweek The deal comes as a major surprise on the week before the broadcast upfront presentations, as rival media outlets appeared to have been altogether unaware that negotiations were in the works. In fact, several sources confirmed that no other networks were so much as invited to bid for the package. This was by design, said IOC president Thomas Bach. Reuters The IOC did not approach ESPN, a network spokesman said, and neither were Fox nor CBS. The agreement includes media rights across broadcast television, cable TV, Internet and mobile platforms. NBC and rival networks have been stocking up on live sports content, which are popular with advertisers because large audiences watch in real-time and do not skip the TV commercials. Mashable NBC has become a player in the live sports industry in recent years, signing deals for the U.S. rights to the English Premier League, the National Hockey League and Sunday night NFL games. The Olympics are an expensive property, but NBC claims that it has been able to turn a profit on them. The price tag for the most recent deal is $1.4 billion more than the previous one.

AOL Beats on Revenue, Misses on Earnings (Re/code)
AOL delivered the Q1 revenue Wall Street was looking for, but not the earnings: Tim Armstrong’s company generated $583 million in sales last quarter and 34 cents a share in earnings, after factoring out one-time charges. Analysts were expecting $578 million and 45 cents. THR The online company said its earnings amounted to $9.3 million, compared to $25.9 million in the year-ago period, down 64 percent. The company said charges worth $22 million tied to software development costs dragged down the earnings. Revenue rose 8 percent, while advertising revenue climbed 16 percent. WSJ The results reflect AOL’s strategic shift toward advertising technology businesses, which help advertisers buy ads across the Internet, such as Adap.tv, an automated video ad-sales service acquired by AOL last September. The challenge in that strategy is that ad technology is a highly competitive market, one in which major online players including Google have already invested heavily. Deadline New York The stock was down 24 percent in midday trading to its lowest point since October after the company reported weaker than expected Q1 sales for display and search ads and took several charges that startled investors. In addition to the major surprises, many investors were chilled by a 3 percent year-over-year drop in global display ads, which had improved in Q4, and 1 percent decline in global search.

Jamie Horowitz Named SVP/General Manager of Today Show (TVNewser)
ESPN executive Jamie Horowitz is joining NBC News as SVP and GM of the Today show. But his ESPN contract won’t allow him to take the job until later this year. Deadline Hollywood Horowitz is currently VP of original programming and production at ESPN. Reporting to NBC News president Deborah Turness, he will lead the morning infotainment program’s brand, with NBC saying he will be tasked with driving “greater integration and growth among all parts of the brand, on all platforms — including the four hours of live television every weekday, weekend Today, Today.com, and the Plaza experience.” Variety The show has made several staff changes in the last year since Turness took office. Rob George was hired as director and longtime producer Melissa Lonner, who booked concerts, left the show. At ESPN, Horowitz oversaw a number of shows, including Olbermann, which brought Keith Olbermann back to ESPN, the sports debate show First Take, SportsNation and the Sports Emmy-nominated World Series of Poker. THR This is not Horowitz’s first stint at NBC. Before joining ESPN in 2006, he worked at NBC Sports where he got his start in the industry as an Olympic researcher for the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney.

Telefónica Offers to Buy Majority Stake in Spain’s Digital Plus (NYT / DealBook)
The Spanish telecommunications company Telefónica has offered to pay about $1 billion for a majority stake in the pay-television provider known as Digital Plus. WSJ Madrid-based Telefónica, one of Europe’s largest telecommunications companies, on Tuesday presented the offer for 56 percent of the unit. Telefónica already owns 22 percent of Digital Plus. Promotora de Informaciones, or, Prisa said in a regulatory filing its board of directors met and approved the deal earlier Wednesday. Prisa, until recently the undisputed media leader in Spain, faces a heavy debt load of around €€3 billion and its remaining stake in Digital Plus was seen as a sizable, easily disposable asset. THR Telefónica has long had its eye on taking control of Digital Plus, which owns the lion’s share of coveted sports rights, including for matches featuring ever-popular soccer teams Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. Telefónica is not only looking to increase its ability to bundle packages of broadband and television services. Its offer also comes at a time when the company is looking to persuade European anti-trust regulators to greenlight a separate deal to buy German mobile operator E-plus from Dutch company KPN.

Super Bowl Helps Fox Beat Fiscal Q3 Earnings Forecasts (Deadline New York)
Shares were up about 4 percent in post-market trading after Fox reported that the Super Bowl helped to score an additional $338 million in the TV business — enabling the company to beat expectations for the first three months of 2014, an otherwise mixed quarter. THR Fox reported fiscal third-quarter earnings of 47 cents per share on $8.22 billion in revenue, results that exceeded the expectations of Wall Street even though film revenue fell year over year. Analysts were expecting the entertainment conglomerate to earn 35 cents a share on $7.99 billion revenue. Of the various reporting segments within the conglomerate, “filmed entertainment” was weakest, with revenue falling 3 percent to $2.28 billion. The unit fared better with operating income (before depreciation and amortization), where it reported a gain of $354 million, up from $334 million in the same quarter a year ago. Forbes Following the release of the earnings results, shares of 21st Century Fox initially jumped 4.8 percent in Wednesday’s after-market trading session. Year-to-date, however, Rupert Murdoch’s company has lost roughly 9 percent in the market.

Daily Mail Pays ‘Substantial Damages,’ Apologizes to J.K. Rowling (The Guardian / Greenslade Blog)
The Daily Mail has printed an apology to the author J.K. Rowling in which it states that it has paid her substantial damages over an article that claimed she had told a misleading “sob story.” HuffPost Rowling sued Associated Newspapers, the publisher of the Daily Mail, over a September 2013 article titled “How J.K. Rowling’s sob story about her past as a single mother has left the churchgoers who cared for her upset and bewildered.” The article said that Rowling had falsely accused fellow churchgoers of stigmatizing her for being a single mother, which the author said in her lawsuit was not true. BBC News The Daily Mail said it accepted the author had not made any false claims and apologized for the suggestion. It added Rowling was donating the unspecified damages to charity.

DirecTV Working With Goldman, Advisers on Possible AT&T Deal (WSJ)
DirecTV is working with advisers including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to evaluate a possible combination with AT&T Inc., people familiar with the matter said, a sign the satellite broadcaster is seriously considering a deal with the telecom company. The two companies are in talks following an approach from AT&T to acquire DirecTV, people familiar with the matter said. The Verge Should AT&T decide to move forward and officially make an offer, it could eventually find itself in control of a TV service with roughly 26 million subscribers. That total is culled both from AT&T’s current U-verse customer base and DirecTV’s viewership. The company’s interest in video is only growing; last month, AT&T announced it would be spending heavily to “acquire, invest in and launch over-the-top video services.”

The Financial Times Finds Its New Fashion Editor (FishbowlNY)
Jo Ellison, currently features director at British Vogue, will start as the fashion editor of the Financial Times in August. Ellison will remain based in London. She was previously a features editor at the Independent and started her career at the Irish Examiner. WWD / Memo Pad Ellison fills Vanessa Friedman’s role at the FT. Friedman left the FT in March for The New York Times where she serves as fashion director and chief fashion critic.

Jet Magazine to Shift to Digital Publishing Next Month (NYT)
Jet, the pioneering African-American weekly magazine that rose to prominence covering the civil rights movement, announced Wednesday that it will no longer publish a regular print edition, the latest in a growing list of periodicals avoiding print in favor of digital publications. FishbowlNY The June switch comes on the heels of Meredith’s recent decision to shelve Ladies’ Home Journal in favor of a quarterly newsstand specialty product. Johnson Publishing Company CEO Desiree Rogers says a subscription to the Jet digital weekly and companion daily updates will cost about the same as a current annual print subscription. It remains to be seen how many of the readers who make up the print side of Jet magazine’s rate base of around 700,000 embrace the new platform.

ABC News Crew Shot at in Eastern Ukraine (TVNewser)
ABC News foreign correspondent Muhammad Lila and his team were shot at by a sniper, part of a group of armed gunmen near Mariupol, in Southeastern Ukraine not far from the Russian border. Lila documented the situation on Twitter. He says the 60 or so gunmen had no identifying marks or insignias, which is typical, but “also no identifying call numbers/signs visible,” which he said is unusual.

Bloomberg’s Robert Bierman Joins WaPo as General Manager (FishbowlDC)
Wednesday, The Washington Post named Bloomberg’s Robert Bierman general manager of Washington Post Live. In this role, Bierman “will manage all business and operational aspects of the Post’s conferences and events division and will focus on strategic opportunities to grow the business,” according to the Post’s full announcement.

Lara Spencer Apologizes for GMA Cinco de Mayo Segment (TVNewser)
Good Morning America co-anchor Lara Spencer apologized on Twitter Tuesday for getting carried away during a Monday segment celebrating Cinco de Mayo. John Quinones, an ABC News correspondent, accepted Spencer’s apology. On Monday’s show, Spencer donned a sombrero, held a margarita, and celebrated “Cinco de Drinko,” aka “the biggest day of the year for margarita sales.” Wednesday morning, MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts apologized for a similar Cinco de Mayo segment on Way Too Early Monday.

ESPN Drafts Bloomberg’s Mina Kimes (New York Post / Media Ink)
Chad Millman, editor-in-chief of ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com, has raided Bloomberg News to hire the young, award-winning Mina Kimes as a writer for an as-yet-untitled column in the magazine. Kimes will be a senior writer covering “the intersection of commerce, business and sports fans” as well as working on narrative and investigative pieces.

Uh Oh, Newspapers Are Looking Like Attractive Investments Again (CJR / The Audit)
The consolidation boom in the media business may soon extend, albeit on a vastly smaller scale, to newspapers, especially the smaller ones. And no, that’s not an applause line. Several key financial players and newspaper operators have publicly expressed interest in buying, and are doing so privately as well. The main reason for all this is pretty simple: Newspapers, having crashed in value, are now cheap, have more or less stabilized and are still throwing off lots of cash.

Hong Kong Publisher’s Prison Sentence Called A Political Vendetta (NYT)
Rejecting defense arguments for leniency, a court in southern China sentenced a Hong Kong publisher to 10 years in prison on Wednesday for smuggling industrial chemicals. The family and supporters of the publisher, Yiu Mantin, have said the charges were a political vendetta brought on by his plans to publish a book condemning the Chinese Communist Party leader, Xi Jinping.

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