AXW Weekly Update

March 30, 2018 | Vol. LVI

MEDIA

Apple Goes to Hollywood. Will Its Story Have a Happy Ending?

Apple’s plans to make itself into a big player in the entertainment industry are now coming into focus. In recent months, the company has outspent Facebook and YouTube — two other tech companies that have also taken steps into original programming — as well as the traditional TV studios. In a few cases, it has also beaten Netflix in bidding wars. Since October, Apple has made deals for 12 projects, nine of them “straight-to-series” orders — an aggressive method of creating new programming that skips the pilot-episode stage. When Apple began courting producers last year, it said it had a budget of about $1 billion to work with. Now it is becoming clear that the company will blow well past that figure. Perhaps more meaningful, though, is that Apple’s strong brand name and its willingness to write big checks have quickly made it a top draw for show creators and stars. (Read More)

 

Entertainment One buys New York production house

Entertainment One, which does business as eOne, has taken over New York-based production company Round Room Entertainment. The deal is expected to give eOne a pathway into the live touring business. The acquisition will also allow eOne to delve into “classic artist touring and packaging,” Taylor says. “We do a lot in the adult urban stage, the metal stage. It’s not far fetched to think we could package and co-produce or co-promote tours.” The two companies previously partnered on a live tour, based on eOne’s pre-school property PJ Masks. (Read More)

 

Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios buys The Weather Channel

In another expansion of his independent film and television empire, Byron Allen has added The Weather Channel to his Entertainment Studios Inc. portfolio. Reports peg the acquisition at around $300 million. Allen, the sole owner of Entertainment Studios, bought the parent company Weather Group through his company Allen Media LLC from Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA)/NBCUniversal, The Blackstone Group and Bain Capital, which acquired the brand in 2008 for a reported $3.5 billion. Allen’s deal includes the 24-hour cable weather channel and the Local Now streaming service but not digital elements such as Weather.com, Weather Underground and the Weather Channel app, which IBM bought in 2015 for around $2 billion. (Read More)

 

TECHNOLOGY

Waymo, a Google Spinoff, Ramps Up Its Driverless-Car Effort

Waymo, the autonomous-car company spun out of Google, announced a new alliance on Tuesday that would vastly expand its effort to ramp up a driverless ride service over the next two years. The company said it planned to buy as many as 20,000 electric cars from Jaguar Land Rover and outfit them with the radars, cameras and sensors it has developed to enable the vehicles to drive themselves on public roads. The cars will be used in a ride-hailing service that Waymo plans start in Phoenix by the end of this year and then roll out in other cities across the United States, John Krafcik, Waymo’s chief executive, said in a statement issued in conjunction with an event at the New York International Auto Show. (Read More)

 

Microsoft Reorganizes to Fuel Cloud and A.I. Businesses

The Windows era at Microsoft, long in eclipse, is officially history. Microsoft said on Tuesday that it was splitting up its Windows engineering team and that the leader of its Windows business was leaving. The moves, analysts said, were part of a reorganization intended to accelerate Microsoft’s emphasis on newer, faster-growing businesses like cloud computing and data-fueled artificial intelligence. (Read More)