MediaFile

Video games defy economic gloom

U.S. shoppers are still spending in a big way — they are just not buying cars, plane tickets, clothing, etc. But they are buying video games.

While most media segments try to maintain stability during today’s economic turmoil, the video game industry keeps on growing, with U.S. video game hardware and software sales up 10 percent last month according to NPD, fueled by record sales of Nintendo’s Wii console and DS hand-held system.

Nintendo’s Wii console sold over 2 million units in November, up from over 800,000 in the previous month.

A separate reports suggests that hard times may favor video games, adults will “turn to
staying in with video games rather than going out on the spend.”

(Reuters)

Keep an eye on:

    DreamWorks Animation launches characters like Shrek and the penguins from “Madagascar” into new lines of business, hoping to grow consistently even during a recession that already is slowing DVD sales. (Los Angeles Times) Time Warner names CEO Jeff Bewkes as chairman; Richard Parsons to step down on Dec. 31 (PaidContent) CBS Interactive reorganization details (PaidContent) Howard Stern contemplates re-signing with Sirius XM (Orbitcast)

(Photo: Reuters)

Yahoo rejected again (and again)

Yahoo: Shun me once, shame on you. Shun me three times in one day, shame on… uh, shame on all of you.

First, Google walked away from their search advertising partnership, saying that it had enough with interference from U.S. antitrust regulators. That’s no surprise — remember the deal was originally conceived as a way for Yahoo to fend off Microsoft’s takeover ambitions? On that score, Google can certainly say: mission accomplished.

Then, investors and bloggers started speculating that Google’s withdrawal could make room for Microsoft to return to the negotiating table. Shares of Yahoo jumped as much as 11 percent on rumors that the companies were in advanced talks … before several people familiar with the situation roundly denied that Microsoft was close to making an offer.

Wolff opines on Murdoch… again

Can you tell it’s book-flacking time?

Vanity Fair is running the second excerpt from the forthcoming book that Michael Wolff wrote about News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch (this one centers on his family), and Wolff is making the rounds this week to talk about it. He was on CNBC moments ago, engaging in everyone’s favorite media parlor game: Parsing Murdoch’s every move like a multi-clause sentence. Friday’s appearance follows a panel discussion at a PaidContent.org conference earlier this week where he made similar remarks. Here’s what he said on CNBC.

What will Murdoch do after buying The Wall Street Journal? What’s his next move?

“I’m not sure that he exactly knows. One of the problems here is that he bought a newspaper and not only did he buy a newspaper, but if he had only waited six months to buy that newspaper he would have saved a billion and a half dollars.” (Nothing like hindsight, is there?)

If Wasserstein could turn back Time (Warner)…

Bruce Wasserstein, chief executive of private equity firm Lazard, joined Blackstone co-founder Steve Schwarzman at a breakfast sponsored by Fortune magazine this morning to share their collective wisdom regarding the financial crisis. (For more on the breakfast, see our DealZone blog).

At the end of the Q&A session, he got one of those out-of-the-blue questions from editor and moderator Andy Serwer: If he could do it all over again, would he still have hooked up with Carl Icahn on the activist investor’s quest to shake up Time Warner Inc?

It sounded like he would. He told guests at the breakfast that he was proud of the report that he and Icahn prepared about the state of the media conglomerate, which contained a bunch of recommendations for how it could improve — including mounting a bigger push into the digital age.

So what’s the outlook for media?

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For the media business, the next couple of days will likely set the tone for the remainder of the year. Why? Because just about everyone who is anyone will be speaking at a Merrill Lynch conference out in California.

We’re talking about CBS, News Corp, Liberty Media, Time Warner, NBC Universal, etc. You get the picture.

We suspect the catchphrase of the conference will be something like “cautious.” It’s highly unlikely that executives will tell us the media industry is awful, terrible, or horrible.

For your video viewing pleasure…

buffy.jpgGood news for fans of guilty pleasure shows like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, “Felicity” or “Dawson’s Creek” - TheWB.com is about to be up and running. With those shows and others, the website hopes to bring in those 18-34 year-olds so loved by advertisers.

Thing is, the website exists even though the television network doesn’t. Recall the WB was folded into UPN a couple of years ago to create the CW.  (Warner Brothers, however, is still one of the major TV studios).

Given that, it’s sort of strange that Craig Erwich, EVP of Warner Horizon Television which oversees TheWB.com, tells Silicon Alley Insider in  an interview that the thing separating TheWB.com, from other websites it – well, the name.

Time to talk Time Warner

time-warner-center.jpg

Time Warner’s earnings may be better-than-expected, but the most arresting news out of its quarterly report isn’t really about the media company’s profit, revenue or forecasts. It’s about strategy.

It’s always interesting to find out what direction Time Warner plans to take. What’s it selling? What’s it spinning off? What could it buy? Will it get rid of AOL? Could it acquire NBC Universal?

Here’s the latest news: Time Warner Chief Jeffrey Bewkes says the company would split AOL’s dial-up Internet and advertising business. This plan, along with getting rid of its cable services business, basically positions Time Warner as a content company.

Yahoo: The Road to No Deal

The following is a timeline of key events leading up to Yahoo’s Aug. 1 annual meeting.

2006 January – Yahoo Inc begins to report a string of weak quarterly results, reflecting competitive missteps by the company, market share gains by rival Google Inc, changes in the online advertising landscape and weakening spending in some ad segments.

Stock_slide

2006 – Microsoft Corp and Yahoo begin preliminary talks on various partnerships, including a merger.

AOL trims for sale?

randyfalco.jpgTechCrunch‘s report on AOL’s “sunsetting” of Xdrive, AOL Pictures, MyMobile and Bluestring spread like wildfire yesterday, at a time when the future of its ownership hangs in the balance.

Are these latest actions in anticipation of an AOL sale? Actually AOL’s been trimming for some time. Who hasn’t, given the state of the economy. You just haven’t noticed.

About 50 products including a video download service, a 10-foot UI experience (Internet in the living room), AIM phone line, and Tegic, have been “sunset”, we’re told.

Google, Microsoft augur tougher times ahead

googlesign.jpgGoogle’s second quarter earnings disappointed Wall Street yesterday and sent its shares tumbling. The search giant blamed lower returns from managing its huge cash piles but analysts are also concerned the market leader in search advertising might augur a wider slowdown in online advertising.

Google itself said revenue growth from search ads was “positive” in every sector except for real estate, which was down by a small amount.

But the Street wasn’t convinced, perhaps because Microsoft also disappointed with its quarterly earnings citing “tough” economic conditions which impacted its software business and online ad sales.