MediaFile

ESPN’s John Skipper doesn’t see any benefits in new TV models – yet.

ESPN chief John Skipper is happy to talk to any of the so-called new over-the-top Web video players surfing around the fringes of the cable TV business. But he doesn’t see any major deals happening soon — if ever.

In a conversation with Reuters at this year’s cable show, Skipper was blunt about his skepticism over the idea his network –  the best paid in the business according to SNL Kagan data — could work with a new Web partner, a tie-up that may in some way threaten the cozy $100 billion a year cable programmer-distributor relationship which feeds the entire industry.

“We have a significant stake in maintaining the current model. There’s no advantage to us in new models that undercut what we have today,” said Skipper, speaking from the NCTA Cable Show in Boston.

ESPN pays tens of billions of dollars every year in sports rights fees to major sports and college leagues — much of which is live programming that doesn’t lend itself naturally to the subscription video-on-demand model popularized by the likes of Netflix and Amazon, he points out.

The Disney-owned sports network is the envy of the cable television business, and several major rivals, like News Corp and Comcast Corp’s NBC Universal, would love to replicate its model.

Disney’s channel chief latest Mouseketeer to hit the road

For the second time this month, a senior Disney executive is heading for the exits.

The head of Disney Channels Worldwide, Carolina Lightcap, resigned from the company on Thursday after less than two years in the job overseeing the Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior cable networks.

Disney didn’t give a reason. In a statement released by the company, Lightcap said “the timing is perfect to move on to my next challenge.”

Tech wrap: AT&T preps plan to salvage T-Mobile deal

AT&T was expected to soon present a two-track plan that allows the company to try to find a settlement before the government lawsuit to block its planned $39 billion acquisition of smaller rival T-Mobile USA reaches the court. Details of AT&T’s proposed settlement were not available, but it is expected to include pledges to maintain T-Mobile’s relatively cheap mobile subscription plans, and asset sales.

TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington created a venture capital fund to invest in promising start-ups, sparking controversy over possible conflicts of interest involving the fund and questions about the integrity of the blog. Included in the debate was Arrington’s employment status, with one AOL spokesperson claiming that Arrington was no longer employed by the owners TechCrunch, and another claiming he was. Arrington’s creation of the “CrunchFund” comes months after he publicly announced that he had begun to actively invest in start-up companies, which also triggered a lively debate within the industry.

A senior exec from Acer said Microsoft will be the winner in Google’s buy of Motorola Mobility as the deal makes Google a direct rival to its phone-making clients. “They work against some of their clients,” said Walter Deppeler, president of Acer’s operations in Europe, Middle East and Africa. “It was a good gift to Microsoft,” he told Reuters.  Acer uses operating software from both Microsoft and Google in its smartphones and tablets. Deppeler said Acer would consider the implications of the deal before deciding on future platform choices.

Disney’s dodgy boyfriend problem

Psst! Wanna buy a cheap stock?

For the second time in just over a year another boyfriend of a Disney staffer has been accused of insider trading.

Yesterday, hedge fund manager Toby G Scammell (seriously, that’s his name, you couldn’t make this stuff up) was sued by Federal regulators who alleged he used secret information obtained from his girlfriend to make $192,000 off the Walt Disney Co’s $4 billion acquisition of Marvel Entertainment in 2009.

Scammell’s girlfriend of two years was an intern in Disney’s corporate strategy department and worked for six months on the deal.

GlobalMedia-iPad cautionary tale: What not to watch, up close

SINGAPORE/Media executives love to go on about their love of the Apple’s iPad. But the tablet isn’t suited for everything. Walt Disney’s Anne Sweeney relayed her recent experience catching up on an ABC  TV show using the  popular tablet.

Sweeney missed the season finale Grey’s Anatomy and, while traveling, decided to watch the show in her hotel room. The episode was particularly gory — several characters were picked off by a aggrieved man who held the hospital at gunpoint.

“It was a massacre,” Sweeney said at the Reuters Global Media Summit. “There’s nothing like seeing that on your pillow. There are some things you might not want to watch that close on your iPad.”

GlobalMedia-ABC News in talks with Bloomberg

MEDIA-SUMMIT/DISNEYThe news divisions at the big networks have been in a world of hurt lately as advertisers seek out younger consumers and viewers. This has lead to big cutbacks in staffing and resources over the years as the networks strive to keep profit margins from deteroirating even further.

ABC is certainly no expectation and has experienced managment upheaval when ABC News president David Westin announced in September his departure partly due to the financial situation and the pressure to increase profit margins.  

Speculation has persisted that ABC News parent company, Walt Disney, has been seeking to untie itself from the division– rumors that similary dog CBS.

Social gaming — what the real players say

FacebookSocial gaming is just barely old enough to be called an industry, but already the battle lines are emerging between major players Zynga, Playdom and Playfish.

Playdom and Playfish, since their acquisitions by the Walt Disney Co and Electronic Arts Inc respectively, have focused on bringing their branded intellectual property to the social gaming world. That could include a possible Playdom game with Marvel superhero characters, or the Playfish version of Monopoly now in the works (EA owns the digital rights to the board game). 

Zynga is by far the industry leader in revenue and size, but it lacks the deep vaults of intellectual property that come with being part of a conglomerate such as Disney.  So it has taken a different tack by focusing on marketing tie-ins with the likes of McDonald’s and convenience store chain 7-11. “One of the things that we really believe is going to happen is we think there is going to be much more connection between the virtual world and the real world,” Cadir Lee, chief technology officer for Zynga, told Reuters.

Hulu to charge? It’s getting closer…

Everybody loves free. But free has a price. And that price might just be $9.95 a month, according to The Los Angeles Times,  which writes that Hulu, the second most popular video site in the U.S, will soon start charging for a premium version of its site called Hulu Plus. We haven’t been able to confirm the details yet (Hulu’s staffers are sticking to the ol’ decline to comment). But rumors of premium version of Hulu have been doing the rounds for the last year. Back in October an NBC executive said the company was experimenting with various business models, including subscription content.

Let’s also not forget Hulu is soon to be a third owned by Comcast (through its ongoing acquisition of NBC) — which is not known for giving video programming away for free. Its other parents, News Corp and Disney, also aren’t known for their charity in the video programming business.

And it’s not just Hulu, YouTube has also started to experiment with pricing models and has indicated it would be open to subscription models if its content partners asked for it.

Disney gives to those who give

Walt Disney Co on Tuesday launched a new parks promotion called “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” pledging to give out a million free one-day tickets in 2010 to Orlando’s Walt Disney World Resort or Anaheim’s Disneyland to folks who volunteer in in their communities for a participating organization.

The media giant is working with HandsOn Network, the nation’s largest volunteer network and part of the Points of Light Institute, which has 250 on-the-ground volunteer action centers across the country and connects volunteers to more than 70,000 nonprofit agencies that need their help.

“We are thrilled at this unprecedented effort by Disney Parks to help mobilize 1 million volunteers into action,” said Michelle Nunn, CEO of Points of Light Institute.

from DealZone:

Boys and girls, welcome to Disney’s Marvelous Media Machine

Walt Disney's $4 billion offer for Marvel Entertainment would give it more than 5,000 comic book characters, including such mighty heroes as Iron Man, Spider-Man, and the Fantastic Four. Disney's Bob Iger told CNBC that the expanded roster will help bring more boys to the home of the Magic Kingdom, where Snow White, Cinderella and the Little Mermaid have long reigned supreme.

The cash and stock deal values Marvel at $50 per share, or a premium of 29 percent to Marvel's closing stock price of $38.65 on Friday. The deal has been approved by the boards of both companies, and since Marvel's CEO, Isaac Perlmutter, is also the largest shareholder of the company, it's likely a done deal.

Marvel's second quarter was a mighty one. It beat market estimates on strong DVD and pay TV sales of "Iron Man," sending its shares to an all-time high. This year has been a lull for Marvel, with no new film releases due until 2010, when Iron Man 2 hits screens. Thor and the first Avenger movie, as well as Sony-produced "Spider-Man 4," are slated for a 2011 release and an "Avengers" sequel is due in 2012.