Internet and phone companies are two types of companies Americans love to hate — and for good reasons. During a pandemic, Comcast was planning to set usage caps on more customers, notably those located in the Northeast states, forcing heavy users toward their more expensive unlimited plan.
Those plans have now been delayed until 2022.
“We are delaying implementation of our new data plan in our Northeast markets until 2022,” Comcast said. “We recognize that our data plan was new for our customers in the Northeast, and while only a very small percentage of customers need additional data, we are providing them with more time to become familiar with the new plan.”
But there’s nothing to become familiar with. The restrictions are glorified price hikes imposed on the backs of customers who already pay some of the highest prices for broadband in the developed world thanks to limited competition. So while a reprieve was welcomed, experts have long warned that the restrictions shouldn’t exist in the first place.
Seems like this is good news for those this data change will eventually impact — at least for a little while.
We have a few alternatives to Comcast in our area, but they are sort of the best of the worst. We had DSL through the phone company once upon a time. Comcast/Xfinity/whatever they want to call themselves was better. We keep hoping that somebody else will come along with an alternative: Amazon, Google, the satellite service from Mr. Tesla — something.
Without knowing too many details about Aron’s direct activities, the current scoreboard says AMC theaters are open in our area, while #2 Regal Cinemas are not. That alone tells me he’s done something right. He fought to keep the doors open. Also, his base salary is $1.1 million, which is a lot, certainly, but not outlandish in comparison to CEOs of other companies.
Lastly, a major part of his compensation was in stock bonus, not cash.
The company pre-announced the bonus — there was no bonus in either 2018 or 2019 — citing Aron’s efforts to keep the struggling exhibitor afloat during a global pandemic that shuttered theaters. The circuit, which was close to bankruptcy, was saved by a capital raise late last year and love from retail investors on Reddit.
Can’t go as far as to say Aron deserves the compensation, his actions certainly lend support to it more than dissuade. I feel a much better use of the money would have been to pay the many furloughed AMC employees than line the pockets of its CEO, but that’s personal preference rather than any kind of wise business decision.
I’m torn on this one, what about you? Did Aron deserve this compensation? He didn’t bail when the times were tough, he has stuck in there and done everything he could do to get the doors reopened and stay open. We’re grateful for that, at least.
We’ve been able to see 10 movies in 2021 so far thanks to AMC theaters being open. The theaters have been very clean and we feel safe in there or we wouldn’t keep going back. That tells us the fish doesn’t stink at the head.
As most know, Friday the 13th is a long-winded horror franchise, The star antagonist wears a hockey mask and carries a machete.
My interest in the franchise has waned since the 80s, admittedly, but they’ve kept making sequel after sequel after sequel. From a financial perspective, the original 1980 film was a huge profit maker, one of the most profitable films ever (see: The Ten Most Profitable Movies of All Time).
One of the producers of more recent films is alleging some questionable accounting has occurred and he’s not been compensated correctly, leading to a lawsuit.
Cunningham is already engaged in a battle with writer Victor Miller over rights. Now pending a ruling at the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, that case involves important copyright and labor issues and has delayed any reboot, new sequels, and other derivative works. As fans patiently wait the conclusion there, Cunningham is throwing himself into another big battle — this one against Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures, with “Hollywood Accounting” in the first lines, and talk of how Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings “lost” money soon following.
Whenever we visit Las Vegas and have a vehicle, we like to travel to Primm, Nevada. It’s a somewhat short 40 minute drive from the mega city in the desert and has a couple of casinos.
The casinos seemed very slow there last year. Uncharacteristically slow business, and this was just before the pandemic shut everything down in Vegas (see: Movie Cars at Terrible’s Casino Just Outside Las Vegas). The post was made after everything closed, but we were there the same month it closed.
We haven’t visited the Prizm Outlets mall, also located in Primm, but apparently it hasn’t been doing well during the pandemic since reopening either.
The Prizm Outlets mall, about a 40-minute drive south of Las Vegas on the California border, lost 95% of its value in six months. It may not be the last mall to do so.
Formerly known as the Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas, the Primm, Nevada mall was auctioned off on Wednesday at a final price of $1.525 million, compared with a $28.2 million appraisal in July, according to a person with knowledge of the results on commercial real estate auction site Ten-X. The buyer wasn’t disclosed.
95% of the value?! Ouch. Had to look up where this mall was in relation to the Bonnie & Clyde death car exhibit. Check this out, it’s actually featured on Google Maps!
With the other activities this last trip, we didn’t get there (ouch, that makes us part of the problem, I suppose), but if/when we do someday, we just have to take some pictures of the mall. Maybe even do a little business while there, just to say, “we bought something at a mall that lost 95% of its value!”
If memory serves, there is a gas station there which claims to be one of the world’s biggest gas stations. We did stop at the gas station in March 2020.
Also curious if the Prism mall has a movie theater as an anchor business? Movie theaters and malls go together like popcorn and butter.
Not sure if we can credit Wonder Woman 1984, the 20% subscription discount or simultaneously releasing 17 movies between Christmas and the end of 2021 on HBO Max and in theaters.
Regardless, HBO Max are growing paid subscribers and have eclipsed 41 million.
Combined, HBO and HBO Max had 41.5 million U.S. subscribers as of the end of 2020, compared with 38.0 million as of the end of September. “The release of Wonder Woman 1984 helped drive our domestic HBO Max and HBO subscribers to more than 41 million, a full two years faster than our initial forecast,” said AT&T CEO John Stankey.
I also read another article that Nielson screwed up by declaring Soul the Christmas day winner for streaming. HBO Max had like 25% more according to that other article to be top of the charts. A ton of people watched Wonder Woman 1984 on HBO Max on Christmas day.
Please note the intentional emphasis on “paid” subscriber. When we talk about Peacock and Apple TV+, for example, they both have subscription numbers made up of both paid and free subscribers. When you muddy the subscriber numbers with both paid and free tiers, it can hide the fact that one brings direct revenue and the other are eyeballs for advertisers. Both are important, yes, but an argument could be made that paid subscriber revenue can be more easily and transparently taken to the bank.
Put another way, everybody else would like to be in Netflix’s shoes with 200+ million paid subscribers and not known as having a lot of free or discounted subscriptions. Even Amazon, which essentially gives a Prime Video subscription to anybody that subscribes to Prime for a year. How many of their 150+ million subscriptions are paid directly vs. included with Prime?
We don’t pay directly for it, we get it as included within the Prime annual subscription. If we had to pay extra for it, not sure we’d pay more than we do for Hulu or CBS All Access, certainly not what we pay for Netflix.
Disclosure: I don’t own any Gamestop stock as of this writing. Never have owned any and no plans to buy any, again, as of this writing — although I’ll admit it’s a bit tempting and scary to jump in on this.
I do, however, still have a pending preorder on the Star Wars Pinball table from Gamestop. Haven’t heard any new update on that status, but am expecting it will arrive in the next few months.
An update on retail store Gamestop, that we last covered closing stores (see: So Much For Gamestop, They Are Closing 1,000+ Stores). There is a current conflict you might have heard about between a Reddit group called “wallstreetbets” and hedge investors shorting the Gamestop stock and losing tons of money as the stock price has ballooned from $6 a share four months ago to over $250/share as of this writing.
Check out the performance of the stock through 9:30am PT today. Crazy up and down volume:
Something tells me this meteoric rise for a stock that is clearly ridiculously overvalued will lead to some sort of federal scrutiny. I don’t know what, but it doesn’t look good.
It sure has mountains and craters aplenty to look at from a graphing standpoint.
GameStop, hedge funds’ most-hated stock, was targeted by an army of retail investors who marshaled forces against short sellers in online chat rooms. In the Reddit forum “wallstreetbets” with more than 2 million subscribers, rookie investors encouraged each other to pile into GameStop’s shares and call options, creating massive short squeezes in the stock.
CNBC could not confirm the amount of losses Melvin Capital took on the short position. Citadel and Point72 have infused close to $3 billion into Gabe Plotkin’s hedge fund to shore up its finances.
Perhaps nothing illegal has happened here, but is Gamestop really worth $250/share from four months ago? If enough investors believe that it is then, yes, it is. Doesn’t matter that hardly anybody buys physical videogames in person any longer. They do buy systems and probably buy and sell some used games, but it’s not a market on the rise. Gamestop should be expanding into some sort of online digital assets business or become like the Amazon of videogames (maybe that’s what they’re trying to do). That’s their only way to survive, in this author’s opinion. Again, I don’t have any money in the stock, so I’m not going to profit from the business succeeding or failing. I’d like to see Gamestop stick around though, if for no other reason than they are a well known retail gaming entity and I like gaming. That nostalgia factor doesn’t translate to a viable business though.
Will this stock price crash? It’s likely to happen. I’m not giving any investment advice. That would be illegal without a license and it’s pure speculation anyway, but I do think common sense and investing go hand and hand. Just ask yourself how a business that was closing 1,000+ stores recently in the middle of a pandemic is suddenly, miraculously worth this much more money?
(if the investors say it is, it is)
Maybe this is the problem with the stock market in general. That it can be extremely volatile for a wide variety of reasons. Both ways. A group of people can say that something sucks and to sell, so the stock price tanks and vice versa. Neither can be tied in any tangible way to if a business is profitable and making good business decisions.
Ironically, AMC stock is also a subject of this Reddit group and that stock has seen some gains as well.
For all of the gloomy predictions involving AMC — some they brought up themselves — they have made some creative financing moves to raise $917 million and push bankruptcy away for awhile.
The movie theater operator said it raised $917 million through a combination of equity and debt. On the equity side, AMC secured $506 million by issuing 164.7 million new shares along with the previously announced $100 million of additional first-lien debt and converting $100 million of second-lien debt into equity.
Not trying to be pessimistic here, just realistic. There’s nothing that’s happened the last year to indicate we are anywhere close to out of the woods. As I write this, movie theaters — including AMC — have been closed almost 9 of the last 12 months and are closed right now. They aren’t doing any significant business while the government forces them to stay closed.
Unsurprisingly, Netflix continues to do well amidst the pandemic. They were the first streamer to start spending en masse on original content and that foresight is paying back huge dividends.
Stay with this longer post. A lot to digest and think about in 2021 and am very curious what you think might happen.
Most of us are cocooned, waiting for the virus to subside. Some, hopefully continuing to increase, are working, but there isn’t much else to do outsides in the movie sector anyway. Plenty to do for those who unplug and use nature for solace.
I read one article that predicted rather stupidly 6-7 years for the bulk of the population to be vaccinated. Years? No. I don’t think it will be 6-7 months either, so the smart money is that 2021 is largely going to replay 2020. Theaters aren’t doomed, so don’t drink from that fountain of despair, but they aren’t going to be anything close to 2019 numbers. Probably a small to medium improvement over 2020 is about the best they can hope for.
We just want to be able to see more than the 44+ new movies in theaters we watched in 2020. So far, with January almost gone, we’ve watched a goose egg in theaters. That’s not a promising start. No idea when theaters in our area will be reopened again and the closest theater remains almost 250 miles away. We’re not driving that far — at least regularly — to watch new movies in theaters. When the weather improves in spring and summer, maybe we’ll do that a few times. Again, it all depends on what’s going on with the virus. Our regular movie theater coverage will continue as soon as theaters reopen — whenever that will be …
Next month we’re going to Vegas again. We’d like to do that once or twice a year, and there are movies open there, so we will be sure to catch at least one movie in our short sojourn there. We were last there in March 2020, when the pandemic seemed to hit its stride.
Enough of theaters, as there isn’t much positive to discuss there. Let’s get back to Netflix and what’s happening across streaming in 2021.
They are promising investors that they will be cash positive going forward, which for any business is sound. Assuming that’s true, we’re going to have to drop the narrative that they are a business running in the red. If you hold onto the lead in eyeballs and interest long enough, like they have — and congrats to them, because they are doing it — you will make money.
In 2020, we watched more Netflix than any other streamer, but close behind was Amazon Prime Video, which oddly isn’t mentioned. Netflix is clearly more worried about Disney+.
Despite mounting competition, Netflix added 8.5 million subscribers in the period and 37 million in 2020, well ahead of forecasts. That brings it to 203.7 million, well ahead of the 86.8 million for Disney+, but nevertheless executives were a bit more forthcoming than usual about seeing mouse ears in the rear-view mirror.
Is Disney a sleeping giant with all that juicy IP? Most of their IP is still in the underutilized phase. Subscribers aren’t getting any new Mandalorian in 2021. We are getting that Boba Fett series at the end of 2021. December isn’t exactly soon.
On the Marvel front, there’s the Wandvision series that just kicked off. Movies? There should be a few of the MCU movies that make it to the service in 2021, maybe. Black Widow is probably the most notable, but there’s a few more.
So, with Star Wars and Marvel not exactly killing it with content on Disney+, what’s the play? They can only hang around on legacy content so long. With parents and grandparents like us with little ones to show animated movies, Disney remains king, but Netflix is surely trying to nibble on this bucket full of apples.
But what about Amazon? Why aren’t Netflix saying anything about Amazon? Maybe, the silence is more telling. Amazon at any time seems poised to flex its financial muscle and go full on production studio mode. There’s the whole Lord of the Rings prequel series and a string of originals under development. Will their LOTRO have Game of Thrones juice? Jeff Bezos sure hopes so. Never count out the richest person in the world.
Let’s not forget just how much book content Amazon has at its disposal. Something like 90% of book publishing goes through Amazon’s sales turnstiles. Ready Player Two is in talks for a sequel, will that be another theatrical release or something Amazon or another streamer scoops up in a bidding war for straight to streaming release? With Steven Spielberg behind the first film, it stands to reason the sequel will garner significant interest, especially if he decides to be part of it again (yeah, even if it’s only and probably likely just producing on the project).
Non-concerns seem to be HBO Max, Paramount+, Peacock and Apple TV. I think WarnerMedia’s 17 movies released simultaneously in whatever theaters are open and on HBO Max is by far the best promotion for streaming in 2021 — and that includes Netflix. Will it result in a ton of new subscribers? Maybe. HBO Max is going to need some killer TV series to keep subscribers around, not just movies and whomever is going to rise up to a formidable alternative to Netflix is going to need to understand and embrace retention. That’s an area that Netflix does better at than anybody else in the field, perhaps save Amazon, which keeps people subscribed because it’s included with Amazon Prime.
Walmart has been trying to nip on those heels, so that battle might heat up in 2021. Hard to get too much behind Walmart though, because they tend to dip in and out of stuff historically (ahem, Vudu, see: Walmart Plus launches September 15, maybe they should have kept Vudu). Still, they have a significant retail sector. If you go out shopping somewhere — you know, the real world, offline — for something, there’s most likely a Walmart nearby.
The also rans include CBS All Access, soon to become Paramount+ on March 4, 2021. They’ve officially announced that launch date and we continue to be puzzled why they don’t do more with their legacy content. They still have a paltry amount of movies considering how many they could have. Come on, release the Kraken movie content! They have some great TV shows, but they could do much more. Am curious to see how much they launch with and if it will look more like HBO Max — like it should.
Peacock should probably be last because they seem to have the fewest amount of original content under production. Saved By The Bell, the reboot, is watched first on that service by 3 out of 10 new subscribers. They greenlit that for a season 2. They need much, much more than that reboot to be considered serious competition for the other streamers.
Apple TV+ – It feels like every time we write about them it’s hey, they did this cool and then this long silence waiting for something else to splash. They need to be like a meteor storm in the ocean of streaming content, pelting it all over the place with fresh, original content. I really thought it would be them gobbling up Quibi’s library of content instead of our next and final mainstream streaming player ….
Roku. We need to mention them since they seem to be trying to be more than just a streaming aggregator. A smart move considering Chromecast with Google TV and Amazon Fire are hot competitors in that space. Personally, I just can’t get all that excited about watching movie or TV shows with ads. I know, I know, classic TV had commercials and it’s a space of interest to many people, we aren’t among them. We spend very little of our streaming time watching free, ad-supported channels. What about you?
I mean, if you’re spending on paid streaming channels, why wouldn’t you watch most/all of what you can on those first? It seems like these FREE channels are more for those who are spending very little on streaming channels, maybe only subscribing to Netflix and just using the free channels for everything else? There’s nothing wrong with that strategy and it’s probably a lot more budget conscious.
We don’t spend much on entertainment, especially with theaters currently closed, so a small portion of money we would have spent in theaters is being spent on streaming subscriptions. I don’t think this is going to change that much in 2021.
Where are your movie and TV watching dollars going to go in 2021? Tell us about it in the comments.
A lot of businesses are suffering now. I’m not sure videogame physical stores when so much is about digital and subscription these days makes much sense. Me? I personally like to shop in person when possible, but there is no denying convenience online and with the added safety requirements, it’s putting a tremendous strain on businesses like Gamestop.
GameStop, the largest video game retailer in the world, is headed for some serious trouble. After a years-long downward spiral into debt, the company announced in a Dec. 8 presentation to investors that it will close more than 1,000 stores by the end of its fiscal year in March. This comes after the company already closed over 783 stores over the previous two years.
Arcade1UP suffered production and manufacturing delays which has led to pushing back the December 14, 2020 ship date for the Star Wars pinball machines. We received an email from Gamestop and they didn’t even have the right pinball machine listed in the email, saying our “Marvel Pinball machine” would be delayed. Um, no, I replied, we have a receipt for the Star Wars machine. They replied and apologized, oh yeah, that.
Umm, is this how their customer service works? They don’t even know what you order?
We ordered two gaming stools from them and never did see on their website that the order was fulfilled, however, the stools arrived a week later. We paid a couple extra dollars for expediated shipping, but it still took a week for the stools to arrive. They were in good condition and no issues otherwise, but Gamestop’s website and order confirmation page is lacking.
This leads me to believe that maybe Gamestop should go out of business if they can’t get online orders right and people aren’t shopping in their retail stores in significant numbers.
I still like Gamestop, despite our own issues with them. They aren’t Amazon as a shopping experience. Maybe that’s the biggest problem for them.
Early last month we asked: Should Apple Buy MGM and gain 4,000+ movies including Bond? You can follow the link and read/re-read that piece, but to summarize: we actually think Amazon is a more likely suitor than Apple simply because Apple doesn’t seem to want to be a studio. They want to be what they are: a tech company that owns things.
Now, they could buy MGM and keep it functioning separate from Apple, but that’s not really the Apple way either. Not historically anyway.
Meanwhile, MGM is ratcheting up it’s efforts to sell. Leaving us to think about where the current streaming suitors fit into this possible MGM sale puzzle.
MGM has recruited Morgan Stanley and LionTree LLC to advise on the process of a formal sale, according to the Wall Street Journal. LionTree has worked with MGM in the past. Based on privately traded shares, the company has a market value of $5.5 billion, including debt.
Bond is the big name IP play here. Who wants to own Bond? Netflix is the obvious answer, but they don’t have the cash and not sure they want to pull an AMC and leverage themselves deep into debt for 4,000 or so movies including James Bond and some TV shows. Even if some of those movies and TV shows are very rewatchable.
So, here we come back to the other available suitors. Not WarnerMedia, they just sold Crunchyroll to Sony. They are clearly in the selling mode themselves, save for promoting HBO Max as their entertainment future.
Amazon. I just keep coming back to them. $6-8 billion is a fraction of what Bezos made himself in one month in 2020. They are sitting on boatloads of cash and seem the most poised to outright buy a studio.
Apple might jump into the game if Amazon shows interest. Sometimes when you want to compete, you wait to see who is competing. Something tells me if Amazon wanted to buy MGM that Apple instantly would be more interested. We’ve seen bidding wars for movies over the last year and it seems like Amazon and Apple almost enjoy the bidding process against each other.
(purely perceived by articles on the two companies, no insider knowledge)
Who is left? NBC Universal with Peacock? Don’t think so. Disney? Maybe. James Bond isn’t exactly family friendly, but they could always buy it and make it another (mostly) adult content center for Star and Hulu (in the United States).
With MGM ramping up their selling interest, allegedly, is there any chance a sale is done before No Time To Die comes out in April? Seems like long shot, but the way the last year has gone almost anything seems possible. Any thoughts?