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HBO Max scores exclusive streaming rights to ‘The Big Bang Theory’

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‘The Big Bang Theory’ on CBS

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HBO Max has won the exclusive rights to blockbuster comedy series “The Big Bang Theory” as it works to beef up the new direct-to-consumer streaming service.

A WarnerMedia spokesperson declined to comment on terms of the deal, but sources familiar with the situation told The Hollywood Reporter that the five-year deal is estimated to be worth billions of dollars. All 279 episodes of Big Bang will be available on HBO Max, which AT&T’s WarnerMedia expects to launch in the spring of 2020 at a price of $15 to $18 per month.

“Few shows define a generation and capture mainstream zeitgeist like ‘The Big Bang Theory,'” said Robert Greenblatt, chairman of WarnerMedia’s direct-to-consumer division. “We’re thrilled that HBO Max will be the exclusive streaming home for this comedy juggernaut when we launch in the spring of 2020. This show has been a hit virtually around the globe, it’s one of the biggest shows on broadcast television of the last decade, and the fact that we get to bring it to a streaming platform for the first time in the U.S. is a coup for our new offering.”

As part of the deal, WarnerMedia’s cable network TBS has extended its agreement to continue airing the show through 2028. Big Bang reruns first debuted on the network in 2011.

Securing the rights to Big Bang represents a significant win for WarnerMedia, which has sought to build a streaming platform that can compete with the likes of Netflix, Apple’s Apple TV+, Disney’s Disney+, Amazon’s Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, among others.

On Monday, Netflix snagged the streaming rights to “Seinfeld” in a multimillion dollar deal, after losing “Friends” and “The Office.” “The Office” is headed to a new streaming service being launched by NBC Universal, the parent company of CNBC.

Big Bang ended its 12-season run on CBS in May as the longest running multi-camera comedy series in the U.S.

Disclosure: CNBC and NBC are owned by Comcast’s NBCUniversal unit.

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Elavon to acquire Sage Pay, a gateway that competes with Stripe, PayPal and Adyen, for $300M – TechCrunch

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E-commerce continues to gain momentum — a trend we’ll see played out in the next two months of holiday shopping — and with that comes more consolidation. Today, Elavon, the payments company that is a subsidiary of US Bancorp, announced that it will acquire Sage Pay, one of the bigger payment processors in the UK and Ireland serving small and medium businesses.

Sage Pay’s owner Sage Group said the deal is being done for £232 million in cash (or $300 million at today’s currency rates).

Elavon is active in 10 countries and says it’s the fourth-largest merchant acquirer in Europe, competing against the likes of  Global Payments, Vantiv, FIS, Ingenico, Verifone, Stripe, Chase, MasterCard and Visa. The deal is still subject to regulatory approval (both by the Federal Reserve in the US and the Central Bank of Ireland), and if all proceeds, the deal is expected to close in Q2 of 2020.

The acquisition points to a bigger trend underway in e-commerce. The market is very fragmented, not just in terms of the companies who sell goods online but also (and perhaps especially) in terms of the companies that manage the complexities at the back end.

In keeping with that, Sage Pay has a lot of competitors in its specific area of taking and managing the payments process for online retailers and others taking transactions online or via mobile apps. They include some of the same competitors as Elavon’s: newer entrants like Stripe, Adyen, and PayPal (all of which have extensive businesses covering many countries and are each larger than Sage, valued in the billions rather than hundreds of millions of dollars), but also smaller operations like GoCardless as well as more established companies like WorldPay.

This deal is a mark of the consolidation that’s been taking place to gain better economies of scale in a market where individual transactions generally generate incremental revenues.

Sage Pay, in that context, was a relatively small player. It 2018 revenues were £41 million, but it is profitable, with an operating profit of £15 million, and Sage said it expects “to report a statutory profit on disposal of approximately £180 million on completion.”

The deal comes on the heels of Sage Group — which is publicly traded — confirming reports in September that it was looking for strategic alternatives for the payments business. Sage Group for the last couple of years has been divesting payments and banking assets to focus more on accounting, people and payroll software, which it sells through an SaaS model.

“Our vision of becoming a great SaaS company for customers and colleagues alike means we will continue to focus on serving small and medium sized customers with subscription software solutions for Accounting & Financials and People & Payroll,” said Steve Hare, Sage’s CEO, in a statement. “Payments and banking services remain an integral part of Sage’s value proposition and we will deliver them through our growing network of partnerships, including Elavon.”

Elavon, as the consolidator here, was itself acquired by US Bancorp way back in 2001 for $2.1 billion. Currently it is active in 10 countries, but in that same vein of consolidation to improve economies of scale on the technical side, and to aggregate more incremental transactions on the financial side, Elavon’s main objective is to increase its overall share of the e-commerce market in Europe. specifically by expanding with Sage Pay further into the UK and Ireland.

“We are a customer-focused company that is helping businesses succeed in a global marketplace that is changing rapidly,” said Hannah Fitzsimons, president and general manager of Elavon Merchant Services, Europe. “This acquisition brings tremendous talent and leading technology to Elavon, which can be leveraged across the European market.”

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Google Stadia will launch with 22 games on first day, up from just 12 last week

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Google announced tonight that its Stadia cloud-gaming service will launch on November 19 (yes, Tuesday) with 22 titles, up from just 12 last week.

I’m not sure what changed so fast to allow Google to add 10 more titles, but last week’s announcement of just 12 titles was greeted as a pathetic line-up. Now Stadia has a much broader set of games to please more gamers.

“Alongside our publisher and developer partners, we’ve been working around the clock on getting ready for Stadia’s launch, and we are adding more incredible titles to our day one launch line-up,” the Stadia team said in an email. “Gamers will have a total of 22 titles available to choose from to experience Stadia for the first time on Tuesday, with more games coming by the end of the year.”

In addition, gamers will be able to claim both Destiny 2: The Collection and Samurai Shodown as part of the November Stadia Pro subscription.

Stadia’s day one titles include:

  • Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
  • Attack on Titan: Final Battle 2
  • Destiny 2: The Collection (available in Stadia Pro)
  • Farming Simulator 2019
  • Final Fantasy XV
  • Football Manager 2020
  • Grid 2019
  • Gylt
  • Just Dance 2020
  • Kine
  • Metro Exodus
  • Mortal Kombat 11
  • NBA 2K20
  • Rage 2
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Samurai Shodown (available in Stadia Pro)
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider
  • Thumper
  • Tomb Raider 2013
  • Trials Rising
  • Wolfenstein: Youngblood

Additional games expected to be playable on Stadia by the end of the year include Borderlands 3, Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, Dragon Ball: Xenoverse and Darksiders Genesis.

There are many more titles that have been announced as coming to Stadia in 2020 including Doom: Eternal, WatchDogs: Legion, Gods & Monsters and Cyberpunk 2077.

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Yahoo Japan and Line set to merge

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Tomohiro Ohsumi

Japan’s biggest search engine and messaging app are set to merge under a deal agreed by their parent companies.

Yahoo Japan is the country’s biggest search engine, and has e-commerce and online banking subsidiaries.

Line is the country’s dominant messaging app, and is also popular in Southeast Asia and Taiwan.

Analysts say the merger will help the companies compete with Japan’s other online giants.

Yahoo Japan has long offered a diverse range of services but has lagged behind many of its competitors, said Seijiro Takeshita, from the University of Shizuoka.

“This will be a very big headache and threat to the players like NTT Docomo and Rakuten,” he said.

Big in Japan

While Google is the predominant search engine in the US and Europe, Yahoo is Japan’s most popular search engine.

More than 50 million people visit Yahoo Japan’s website every month.

Yahoo Japan is no longer linked to its US namesake, which sold its remaining stake in the company in 2018.

Line, which is owned by South Korean company Naver, has roughly 80 million users in Japan and a similar number in Southeast Asia and Taiwan.

The app itself is perhaps best known for cartoonish stickers, a feature which its competitors have also adopted.

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In recent years, Yahoo Japan’s parent company, Softbank, has bet billions on primarily Asian-based tech companies.

The deal could also make it a dominant player in the payments market in Japan.

Softbank already has its own payment service PayPay.

With this deal, it will scoop up Linepay, which is used by many of its competitors.

“I think there will be a lot of game-changing issues that will go on,” said Mr Takeshita.

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