Time Warner Delivers Q1 Earnings Beat Despite Operating Income Issues


Both AT&T and the Department of Justice are probably poring over Time Warner’s first-quarter 2018 earnings release early this morning. We would be, and there is lots to see.

The Jeff Bewkes-led corporation, currently battling the government in a potential big-money merger with Randall Stephenson’s company, experienced what we in the business of reporting on business call a “mixed bag” with its Q1 financial results. Though AT&T delivered a solid beat on both earnings per share (EPS) and in revenue, its operating income dropped 8 percent. That decline would have been worse without adjustments.

Wall Street had forecast earnings of $1.74 per share on $7.94 billion in revenue, per a Yahoo Finance-compiled consensus. Time Warner actually reported $2.28 of adjusted earnings per share on $8 billion in revenue — that’s the good news.

Also Read: Jeff Bewkes Says DOJ’s Key Antitrust Argument Against AT&T-Time Warner Merger Is ‘Ridiculous’

The revenue number is up 3 percent overall, and the adjusted EPS grew 37 percent from the same quarter last year. Forty-nine cents of Time Warner’s earnings per share can be credited to tax reform — thanks Donald Trump!

Turner and HBO increased their top line totals year over year, though Warner Bros. shed revenue in both TV and film. Tough comparisons to Q1 2017 releases “Kong: Skull Island” and “The LEGO Batman Movie” help explain the 90-day box office struggle.

Higher programming costs at HBO were a leading contributor to the down operating income figure of $2 billion.

Also Read: AT&T Q1 Earnings Fail to Meet Wall Street Expectations

“We’re off to a strong start to 2018 and we remain on track to meet the financial goals we laid out at the beginning of the year, as we continue to execute our strategic objectives, including investing in and delivering the most compelling content to audiences around the globe and across platforms,” Bewkes said in written remarks accompanying the financials. “Turner had another successful multiplatform airing of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, while CNN was the #1 news network among adults 18-34 and remained the leader in digital news. Additionally, year-to-date, TNT’s ‘The Alienist’ is the #1 new cable drama and TBS’s ‘The Last O.G’. is the #1 new cable comedy. Home Box Office had another standout quarter and recently had the much-anticipated return of ‘Westworld’ (produced by Warner Bros.), which saw viewership of the second season premiere episode increase 13% compared to the prior season’s average.”

“Warner Bros. remained a leader in television production with top comedies like ‘The Big Bang Theory’ and ‘Young Sheldon’ and top unscripted series, including ‘The Voice,’ ‘The Bachelor’ and ‘Ellen’s Game of Games,’ airing across the broadcast networks,” the chairman and CEO continued. “Theatrically, Warner Bros.’ latest sci-fi epic, ‘Ready Player One,’ which opened at the end of March, is off to a strong start at the global box office and is the studio’s highest grossing film ever in China. We look forward to the resolution of the legal challenge to our pending merger with AT&T and remain excited about the benefits of the merger, such as the potential to further strengthen our businesses by accelerating our innovation and increasing our ability to connect more directly with consumers.”

Time Warner is skipping another investor call due to its pending acquisition by AT&T. Shares of TWX stock closed Wednesday at $96.28, up 24 cents for the day. TWX is currently down almost a dollar per shark in pre-market trading.

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‘Double Dare’ to Reboot on Nickelodeon This Summer (Video)


This summer, it’s time to take the physical challenge again: Nickelodeon is rebooting classic kids’ game show “Double Dare” (again) with a 40-episode order.

Nick has yet to announce a host or other talent, though the Viacom cable channel says its new version will “feature appearances from blasts from the past, long-time ‘Double Dare’ fans and stars from today.”

In case you missed the ’80s and ’90s game show or its 2000 revival, “Double Dare” features two teams competing to win prizes by answering brain-bending trivia questions, completing messy, physical stunts and ultimately facing the infamous obstacle course: The human hamster wheel, the classic gigantic mouth, the wringer and the iconic “Double Dare” nose, per Nick’s official description.

Still not ringing a bell? Watch Nick’s teaser/look-back via the video above.

Also Read: ‘iCarly,’ ‘Drake & Josh’ Producer Dan Schneider Out at Nickelodeon After Complaints About Behavior

The original “Double Dare” and “Family Double Dare,” both hosted by Marc Summers, combined for a run from 1986-1993 on Nick. The format was rebooted for one season at the turn of the century as “Double Dare 2000.”

Nickelodeon also filmed a “Double Dare” special at Comic Con 2016.

A rep for Summers did not immediately respond to TheWrap‘s question about any potential involvement as host or producer. Summers produced “Double Dare 2000” and has stayed busy lately as an executive producer on food and restaurant shows.

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Viacom Boss Bob Bakish Praises New Paramount Management for ‘A Quiet Place’ Success


Bob Bakish is thrilled about the box office performance of John Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place,” and he’s singling out new Paramount Pictures management for a large portion of the horror movie’s success.

“This is the first film that was both produced and released under the new management team,” Bakish said Wednesday on his company’s earnings conference call. “That has shown up in the quality of the exact film, the cost discipline, the way it was marketed.”

Don’t freak out, Krasinski fans, Bakish also gave a nod to the “quality” of the movie in his response to a media analyst’s question about how Paramount handled its big hit differently.

Also Read: ‘A Quiet Place’ Roars Back to Top Box Office Spot With $21 Million

The Viacom boss is looking ahead to more of the same from his studio. Bakish’s relatively new team has already greenlit and dated a dozen films for 2019, and he thinks they’ll add four more.

He believes the slate’s quality matches its beefed-up quantity.

“We’re excited about the diversity and balance of the upcoming slate,” Bakish said. “When I talked to Jim [Gianopulos] even before he joined the company and he looked at our ’17 slate, he was troubled by its construction. This slate that we have for ’19 [has] a great balance of tentpoles, almost half of the films are modestly priced — budgets $25 million or less — and of course, as I’ve said before, branded films play a prominent part in the slate as well.”

Also Read: Viacom Beats on Q2 Earnings Despite Domestic TV Declines, a Way Down Box Office

“So, [I’m] very excited about the capabilities of this team [and] also their relationships in the creative community for sourcing product,” he said.

“At the end of the day, great management matters and we have great management at Paramount,” Bakish concluded.

Read about Viacom’s actual Q2 earnings here.

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Comcast Makes $31 Billion Cash Offer for Sky, UK Company Scraps Fox Deal


Comcast has swooped in with a formal cash offer for Sky, valuing the company at $31 billion. That’s a 16 percent premium over Fox’s standing offer, effectively killing that pending deal.

“We are delighted to be formalizing our offer for Sky today,” Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian L. Roberts said on Wednesday. “We have long believed Sky is an outstanding company and a great fit with Comcast. Sky has a strong business, excellent customer loyalty, and a valued brand. It is led by a terrific management team who we look forward to working with to build and grow this business.”

“As a result of the announcement of this higher cash offer, the Independent Committee is withdrawing its recommendation of the offer announced by 21CF on 15 December 2016 (“21CF Offer”) and is now terminating the Co-operation Agreement entered into with 21CF on the same date,” Sky said.

Also Read: Disney Must Make Offer to Buy All of Sky If Fox’s Own Deal Falls Through

Here is Fox’s response:

21st Century Fox (“21CF”) notes the announcement made by Comcast Corporation (“Comcast”) of a firm intention to make an offer for the entire issued and to be issued share capital of Sky plc (“Sky”).

21CF remains committed to its recommended cash offer for Sky announced on 15th December 2016 and is currently considering its options. A further announcement will be made in due course.

More to come…

Viacom Tops on Q2 Earnings Despite Declines in US TV Ratings and Subscribers, a Way Down Box Office


Viacom topped Wall Street’s financial expectations for the second quarter of 2018, posting earnings of 92 cents per share on $3.15 billion in revenue. Media analysts had forecast earnings per share (EPS) of 79 cents on $3.04 billion in revenue, per a Yahoo Finance-compiled consensus.

Viacom’s positive results came despite the fact that its domestic TV ratings and subscribers both slipped from the comparable quarter last year. Additionally, Paramount Pictures’ box office revenue plummeted 79 percent year over year, which can be at least partially written off due to the release of fewer films and the shift from a theatrical release for “Cloverfield Paradox” to a licensing deal with Netflix. At least Paramount was profitable this time around.

Of course, all of that was factored in to estimates. Overall, the publicly traded corporation’s revenue ticked down, though it’s operating income and EPS rose versus Q2 2017 — tax reform sure helped the latter, and international performance at the networks kept things pretty steady.

Also Read: Viacom Counters Initial CBS Offer With $14.7 Billion Valuation, Wants Bob Bakish as President-COO

“Viacom continued to accelerate progress against its strategic priorities, delivering improvements across key metrics in the quarter,” President and CEO Bob Bakish said. “Our flagship brands increased audience share among important demos for the fourth consecutive quarter, and we saw sequential improvements in domestic advertising and affiliate revenue performance. Internationally, Viacom continued its winning streak, achieving double-digit revenue and profit gains in the quarter while expanding its global footprint through new channel launches and innovative mobile distribution deals across Europe and Asia. Our cost transformation initiatives are well under way; we anticipate more than $100 million in cost savings in fiscal 2018, and now expect over $300 million in run-rate savings in fiscal 2019 and beyond.

“At Paramount Pictures, turnaround efforts have firmly taken hold as the studio improved margins and returned to profitability,” he continued in written remarks. “This month’s outstanding box-office performance of ‘A Quiet Place,’ the first film produced and released under the new team at Paramount, is a clear sign of our progress.

“Viacom also took strides to advance its participation into next generation platforms and solutions,” Bakish said. “We continued to benefit from growth in the vMVPD space, delivered revenue gains in Advanced Marketing Solutions, and significantly increased original content production through Viacom Digital Studios to drive off-linear consumption. Additionally, we continue to diversify into adjacent businesses by building on our live events strategy with upcoming tentpoles including Comedy Central’s Clusterfest, the BET Experience, Nickelodeon’s U.S. debut of SlimeFest and our first-ever VidCon.

“Looking forward, we see continued momentum as we pivot from stabilization and revitalization of our business to a new phase of growth,” he concluded.

Also Read: Viacom Rejects CBS’ Initial Acquisition Offer

Shares of VIAB stock closed $30.92 on Tuesday, down 14 cents from Monday. The market reopens for regular trading at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Executives will host a conference call at 10 a.m. ET to discuss the quarter in greater detail.

Viacom and CBS have been in negotiations to potentially merge again. Disagreements over the valuation of Viacom and a high-level post for the company’s CEO Bob Bakish are the two key issues currently keeping them an arm’s length (or more) from one-another.

More to come…

‘Monster Week’: Animal Planet Series ‘Finding Bigfoot’ to End With 100th Episode (Exclusive)


Animal Planet’s “Monster Week” 2018 will kick off with the 100th and final episode of “Finding Bigfoot,” TheWrap has learned exclusively. Not a bad way to get things going, or to finally bid adieu to a fan-favorite TV series.

The week-long celebration will be hosted by Rhys Darby (“Flight of the Conchords”), Dan Schreiber and Buttons of podcast “The Cryptid Factor,” and it also includes new episodes of “River Monsters,” “Expedition Unknown,” “Deadliest Place on Earth” and “World’s Scariest Animal Attacks,” along with a slew of specials, we’re told.

We’ve got the trailer for the annual event posted above and more details below — the news and footage is all ours, not that we’re trying to be monsters about it.

Also Read: Animal Planet Orders ‘Wolves & Warriors,’ Which Pairs Combat Vets With, Well, Wolves (Exclusive)

“Monster Week” premieres Sunday, May 27  — that’s Memorial Day Weekend, by the way — at 8/7c with the 100th and final episode of “Finding Bigfoot,” which returns to television after more than a year-long hiatus.

The two-hour special features Bigfoot Field Research Organization president Matt Moneymaker, researchers James “Bobo” Fay and Cliff Barackman and skeptical scientist Ranae Holland as they travel to the 50th anniversary celebration of the Patterson Gimlin film, which is often referred to as the holy grail of Bigfoot footage and the most famous piece of evidence ever recorded.

Cutting-edge technology brings forth all-new details of the creature captured on this film and leaves our investigators more convinced than ever about its authenticity, per Animal Plant. A farewell retrospective on the series follows.

Also Read: ‘Legion’ Fact Check: Were All Those Tick and Dog Facts True?

Here are the new specials– all series descriptions are in Animal Planet’s own words:

“Finding Bigfoot”
(Sunday, May 27 at 8/7c)
The team of investigators returns for the 100th episode! In a two-hour “Monster Week” special, the team travels to Willow Creek California to help celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the most famous piece of Bigfoot footage, the Patterson Gimlin film. The discovery of a new copy of the film brings forth the biggest Bigfoot discovery in decades, showing the clearest image of the creature in 50 years. Immediately following is a one-hour special that features the “Finding Bigfoot” investigators and crew as they share their own stories and experiences together which spans a decade.

“The Lost Kingdom of The Yeti”
(Monday. May 28 at 8/7c)
From the Bhutanese wilderness, scientist and yeti-hunter Mark Evans hears fresh reports of repeated sightings and mysterious prints in the snow. Taking into consideration recent developments in DNA-science that could allow the creature responsible to be identified, Mark mounts a considerable expedition into the Himalayas and takes his search for the Yeti further than ever before. With inspired believers, a medical disaster, a forbidden mountain and a privileged appointment with royalty, this is an epic “Monster Week” adventure.

Also Read: Matthew Morrison’s ‘Heart Is Broken’ After Report of Animal Abuse on Set of Sci-Fi Movie ‘Crazy Alien’

“Weird, True & Freaky”
(Airing all week at 10/9c starting Monday, May 28)
These are the scariest, most unbelievable animal encounters from across the globe caught on video! Whether attacking from above, or emerging from the depths, prepare to witness nature’s most terrifying confrontations gone awry. And things get even more shocking – bizarre, alien-like beings prove that in the animal kingdom, anything is possible. We’re counting down the top 10 most eye-popping moments caught on video.

“Monsters of The Abyss” 
(Tuesday, May 29 at 8/7c)
Richie Kohler and Evan Kovacs are deep ocean technical divers and marine investigators on the hunt for sea monsters in the British Isles. They are drawn to the North Channel by the recent discovery of a German U-boat wreck that may be the legendary UB-85, long-rumored to have been attacked by a sea monster in the waning days of WW1. Along the way, they travel to Scotland to meet recent eyewitnesses to the most legendary sea monster of all – the Loch Ness Monster, and to investigate any possible links between “Nessie” and the beast that may have attacked UB-85.

“Fear Island”
(Sunday, June 3 at 8/7c)
Veteran wildlife conservationist Bradley Trevor Grieve leads an elite team into uncharted Alaskan wilderness in search of Grandfather – a bear locals believe is the largest to ever roam the earth. To prove the massive predator’s existence, the team will rely on ancient indigenous tracking techniques to obtain DNA and video evidence of the beast. But as they track it deeper into its deadly domain – an island with the densest concentration of bears on the planet – they realize that their greatest challenge will be surviving the expedition.

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Roseanne Barr Q Score: Here’s How Much America Likes (or Doesn’t Like) Sitcom Star (Exclusive)


America really likes “Roseanne,” but do we like Roseanne? TheWrap looked into Roseanne Barr’s Q Score — a measurement of one’s likability — to find exactly that out.

The comedian, actress and awful national anthem singer has a 70 Familiarity score, which means she was recognized during a recent market research study by 70 percent of those surveyed. That’s actually far-larger than it probably sounds: Consider Mariska Hargitay, who is better-known than most of her peers, has just a 42 Familiarity score. The popular Kaley Cuoco is between the two with a 53.

So, yes, our ABC sitcom star is extremely well-known — but is Barr well-liked? No, not particularly.

Also Read: ‘Roseanne’ Passes ‘Sunday Night Football’ and ‘This Is Us’ to Become TV’s Top-Rated Show

With a 14 Positive Q Score, Barr is not what one would call a beloved personality. That number is not terrible, however — it places Roseanne five points below the average for a female primetime star.

(Back to our above example, the popular Hargitay and Cuoco have a 34 and 27, respectively for their Positive Q Scores. But again, they’re extremely well-liked — click here to see how more primetime actresses rated by both metrics.)

Barr’s Negative Q Score is a 36 — that one is pretty awful, to be honest. Compare it with the average for a female primetime star, which is a 21.

“Her numbers reflect the ‘stir the pot’ appeal that she has with viewers,” Q Scores Company president Henry Schafer told TheWrap. “That’s how the character and the real Roseanne are marketed.”

Also Read: ‘Roseanne’ Revival Got Big Influx of Fox News Viewers in Second Week

But just how does one gather a Q Score — a number that is commonly used to aid casting and endorsement decisions — anyway?

Well, for this one, Schafer and his team spent the early part of 2018 polling a few thousand Americans age 6 and older. Any of those who marked Barr among their favorite celebrities went in the Positive column, those who said she was one of their least favorite personalities were counted in the Negative tally. The Q Score itself is essentially just a percentage of those surveyed who said “Yes” to either extreme.

Unfortunately, one group was two-and-a-half times larger than the other — not that ABC is too concerned about it.

Also Read: ‘Roseanne’ Premiere Breaks TV Record for Delayed Viewing

The “Roseanne” revival airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on ABC.

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