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Press release from PR Newswire

S&P Equity Research Issues Media Predictions for 2011

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

S&P Equity Research Issues Media Predictions for 201111:22 EST Wednesday, January 05, 2011NEW YORK, Jan. 5, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Against the cross-currents from new technologies and an increasingly uncharted regulatory backdrop, change was about the only constant for the Media sector in 2010. But with an improving economic outlook providing another area of support, S&P Equity Research believes the sector seems poised to weather lingering challenges and turn in another strong year in 2011. With this in mind Tuna Amobi, Media & Entertainment Analyst at S&P Equity Research, provides the following 2011 Media Predictions.1. We expect News Corp. (NYSE: NWS 17 ****) (NYSE: NWSA 15 ****) to ultimately prevail in its bid for majority ownership of BSkyB (despite stiff U.K. regulatory hurdles). Separately, we expect the company to take steps to cede control of MySpace, with Rupert Murdoch and company cutting losses, as the site has never gained real traction in a re-invention as a social entertainment hub. 2. We see interactive advertising making relatively large quantum leaps in addressability and measurement, as cable operators such as Cablevision (NYSE: CVC 34 ****), Comcast (NNM: CMCSA 22 ***) (NNM: CMCSK 21 ***), and Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC 67 ***) finally begin to leverage underlying technology advancements that have nurtured a new revenue stream from a likely growing base of EBIF-enabled U.S. households.3. We expect one or more film studios - likely this time from the ranks of independents - to sign relatively long-term streaming rights deal(s) with Netflix (NNM: NFLX 181 **), which should also significantly expand its TV licensing pacts with the studios (for both current and prior season episodes) under incrementally shortened windows. 4. We think some of the largest cable operators will face renewed speed bumps over wireless strategies, as the WiMAX JV led by Sprint (NYSE: S 4****) and Clearwire (NNM: CLWR 5 NR) further unravels, while the JV's cable partners hesitate to make further financial commitments and slow the pace of deployment (as LTE begins to take flight among rival 4G technologies).5. We expect further progress in the used car segment to finally start moving the needle on Sirius XM's (NNM: SIRI 2 ****) automotive OEM-driven subscriber growth, while the advent of "Sirius 2.0" will likely act as a catalyst to rekindle customer awareness and herald a new era of likely impressive next-gen features and offerings for the satellite radio provider.6. We believe a formal announcement of a news gathering partnership between Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX 33 ****) CNN and either CBS (NYSE: CBS 19 ****) or one of the three other major broadcast networks could finally evolve - in what should be seen as a ground-breaking deal that could mark an unprecedented level of cost-driven collaboration between traditional competitors.7. We look for North America concert attendance to recover somewhat, and be up possibly in the low single-digits after last year's sharp decline that we estimate was over 10% - thanks in part to resumed touring by several headline acts and an improving outlook on consumer discretionary spending. However, continued experimentation with dynamic pricing by Live Nation Entertainment (NYSE: LYV 11 ***) and others could pose a lingering dilemma for the industry. 8. In our view, DreamWorks Animation (NYSE: DWA 29 *****) and Viacom's (NYSE: VIA.B 40 ***) Paramount Pictures will likely announce a new, multi-year distribution agreement (beyond the 2012 end of their current pact) - likely contemplating new facets for TV collaboration with Viacom's Nickelodeon - on incrementally favorable terms for the CGI animation studio. 9. Warner Music Group (NYSE: WMG 6 ****) could finally be poised to make a successful bid for the recorded music operations of EMI Group - capping several aborted attempts in recent years.10. With heightened focus on international expansion, we think at least one media conglomerate may make a sizable financial commitment in the higher-growth emerging markets of Asia, Latin America, or Eastern Europe - to the notable exclusion of China. 11. We anticipate some initial steps in Washington toward new regulations (or potential legislation) aimed at mitigating increasingly disruptive consequences of the current regime of retransmission consent negotiations between local TV stations and cable operators.12. Comcast's deal for GE's (NYSE: GE 19 ****) NBC Universal should pass regulatory muster with a few unusual conditions, in our view. "Cord-cutting" will likely accelerate, as over-the-top video services should lure a relatively small portion of pay-TV subscribers - with DIRECTV (NYSE: DTV 41 ***) a net gainer. Finally, Discovery's (NNM: DISCA 41 *****) Oprah Winfrey Network will likely make a real splash in its first year. 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