The Rumor Mill: Yahoo, Comcast, Disney, Verizon and More

By Paul Maxwell Report Archives
Cover image for  article: The Rumor Mill: Yahoo, Comcast, Disney, Verizon and More

How the rumors fly! What started out to be a routine board look at every viable option (and, given Yahoo, a few non-viable ones, too) has turned into a frenzy of reporting about all of the companies and private equity firms that are purported to be interested.

Every newsfeed has the former Google star and current CEO of Yahoo Marissa Mayer already gone. Forbes even has a cover note: “Last days of Marissa Mayer?” -- and then drops the question mark from the headline on the story.

Let’s see; there are rumors about Barry Diller’s IAC, Brian Roberts’ Comcast, Rupert Murdoch’s whatever, Bob Iger’s Disney (but it won’t replace ESPN, even though some replacements there might be indicated), Lowell McAdam’s Verizon (with advanced ad-tech Aol already acquired) and some eleven private equity guys lurking.

Could any of these deals be done? Sure. Can any of them work? Well, let’s not forget the not-too-distant past when Mike Armstrong’s (original) AT&T was bemired in the death throes of its once golden-goose long distance business. To fix this glaring problem Armstrong bought TCI -- for the future upside -- from Dr. Malone … and then rather promptly ran it into the ground.

In short: Yeah, there is a business at Yahoo! But it’s a long way from a robust growing one.

Maybe Yahoo! is now a wind-down instead of a roll-up. Still, there’s $4 billion in revenue (but Wall Street marks it as $0).

Random Notes

My book The Revolutionary Evolution of the Media continues. Go here to read the latest chapter or here to read it from the beginning.

Retransmission consent is back in the news with a big question: What is “good faith”?  MVPDs say broadcasters can’t even spell it, much less act in it when they block online access and programming signal transmission at the same time they turn a signal off a distribution system.  Non-subscribers, of course, can still get the free online services.  Subscribers cannot.  Strikes me as a just one more, simple attempt to force the MVPD into paying more; and, of course, charging the subscriber more.  I couldn’t find a good definition for blackmail, but shabby sure works.

Meanwhile, the American TV Alliance (funded by MVPDs) says one in every eight subscribers have been affected by TV blackouts this year.  TVFreedom, which represents broadcasters, says that’s just “ridiculous” since “broadcast program disruptions are provoked by the shenanigans of monopolistic pay TV companies who use TV viewers as pawns in their Washington games.”  Nothing like using words in “good faith.”  Kind of forgets which side controls the switch to turn stuff off.

Just two days after the “good faith” comments were filed at the Federal Confusion Commission, CableFAX Daily reported Tegna (nee’ Gannett) was threatening to blackout DirecTV and U-verse subs.  The “new” AT&T says Tegna wants a “significant increase.”  Tegna says DISH paid up. This gets personal. If that had been blacked out last week, I would have missed the Broncos beating the Patriots (no over-the-air at 9,600 feet).

And, just to make it clear how well those blackouts work, retransmission fees are up about 40% per year over year the last two cycles of negotiations.  Bet the over-the-airheads (you know, “free” TV) use nicer language when talking with their Washington benefactors.

But Tom Wheeler and the FCC probably won’t really do anything.  They are too consumed with being in court again over the Title II designation.

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