Media mogul Sumner Redstone, caught in the vise-like grip of the credit crunch, may be forced to sell his prized Viacom Inc., home of MTV, Nickelodeon and Paramount Studios. A sale of Viacom, or any piece of the company, would be a tremendous setback to the 85-year-old Redstone, as he has spent the better part of his professional life pulling together the crown jewel of his investment portfolio. Sources close to Redstone and Viacom say the executive's current cash situation is so dire that selling Viacom or CBS - which he also controls - is now a real possibility. Redstone used shares in the companies as collateral for loans used to back expansion plans for his privately-held National Amusements, Inc. movie theater chain.
In a tiny story with potentially massive implications, Jonathan Birchall reports that Procter & Gamble is "supporting" a Web site devoted exclusively to its brands. "In an indication of the sensitivities involved, the site is being operated by a third party, which owns the inventory," he writes. The Web site -- theEssentials.com -- brings P&G into direct brand competition with its retailers. Birchall also writes that Wal-Mart, P&G's largest customer, is hiring a strategy executive whose tasks include assessing the potential effect of direct-to-consumer sales by its own suppliers.
In a deal that buyers have been pushing for, Google TV struck an agreement last week to integrate its ad buying platform with the industry's leading transaction processor for the direct response TV industry, CoreDirect. For Google, the deal represents another stake that the company's Internet-based TV auction platform has been able to drive into the turf of traditional TV. For DRTV buyers, it makes the process of buying spots via Google much easier to analyze.
After recently buying out the 49% stake in mobile joint venture Jamba previously held by VeriSign, News Corp.'s mobile business will now be known as Fox Mobile Group. Mauro Montanaro, who has served as CEO of Jamba since January, heads FMG as CEO. The News Corp. arm will have three units focused on mobile content production (Fox Mobile Studios), licensing to third parties (Fox Mobile Entertainment) and distribution (Fox Mobile Distribution), respectively.
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A major executive shakeup at Twitter last week has people once again asking pesky questions about the company's future. Like does it have one? How will it make money? And When? But Twitter investors don't find your questions amusing, and would like you stop asking now. "It's like the stupidest question in the world: How's Twitter going to make money?," said Union Square Ventures' Fred Wilson. "Eventually Google was going to make money and they figured out how to do it and they figured out a great business, and I think the same thing is true with Twitter." Nice attitude, Fred. Meanwhile, Bijan Sabet, a general partner at Twitter-backer Spark Capital, told Wired that new revenue models will be unveiled in the first half of next year. So apparently the public isn't the only party thinking revenue would be a good thing for Twitter.
Despite buzz surrounding fancy and expensive video ads, only 11% of consumers are likely to click on them, compared with 25% that would likely click on simple text ads, and 20% that would click on right banners
For what may be the first time ever, an established filmmaker has bypassed an official theater premiere — and put his work directly on the internet. Last Friday, director Wayne Wang's The Princess of Nebraska made its public debut on YouTube's Screening Room. It has since garnered nearly 153,000 views and hundreds of comments. The trailer — put on YouTube last month — has an impressive 95,000 tally.
Not one to sit idly by while its nemesis gets a $300 million makeover, Apple is out with two new commercials, one of which directly comments on the amount of money Microsoft is spending on its current advertising campaign. In the ad, we see PC divvying up Microsoft's budget allocating the lion's share to the ad campaign and a minuscule amount to fixing Vista's problems.