360AM — Morning news briefing for Thursday, May 10 >>

Not surprisingly, Chris Albrecht’s resignation from HBO yesterday grabbed headlines today. The 22-year HBO vet was arrested early Sunday following the Oscar De La Hoya-Floyd Mayweather Jr. boxing bout, which—as expected—broke pay-per-view records. HBO’s PPV attracted 2.15 million households (1.23 million cable and 925,000 satellite) who paid $54.95 for the biggest PPV payday in history: $118 million and change gross revenue. The previous record was 1.99 million buys for Tyson-Holyfield; De La Hoya will receive an estimated $45 million cut for the fight while Mayweather gets around $20 million. [Variety | AP]

The next question: who will succeed Albrecht and run HBO? Variety and The Hollywood Reporter list the internal candidates: Bill Nelson, HBO’s COO who’s now acting head of the network; Colin Callendar, president of HBO Films; Carolyn Strauss, its president of entertainment; Richard Plepler, EVP of communications; Harold Akselrad, general counsel and EVP of legal, business affairs and film programming; and Eric Kessler, president of sales, marketing and business development.

As for Albrecht, Las Vegas police released details from its arrest report, with the Los Angeles Times noting the "officers who arrested Albrecht said that he had grabbed his companion around the neck so hard that he left red marks, and that they had to physically break his grip to free her. … [Police] came running when they spotted a man later identified as Albrecht grabbing a woman by the throat with both hands and dragging her toward the valet parking station at the MGM Grand." Albrecht told arresting officers, "She pissed me off." The New York Daily News cites sources claiming Karla Jensen, Albrecht’s girlfriend, is staying by his side and refuses to press charges because she says he didn’t assault her.

The rumor mill continues: the New York Post claims Time Warner execs now regret covering up a 1991 payout to Sasha Emerson, the former HBO exec allegedly attacked by Albrecht after ending their affair, as broken by the Los Angeles Times; while Hollywood reporter Nikki Finke alleges earlier Albrechtian cover-ups by Time Warner.



• COMPETITION

EchoStar reported 1st quarter earnings this morning. Highlights: Net income rose 6.8% to $157 million; Dish Network attracted 310,000 new subscribers; churn dropped to 1.47% (from 1.57% in 1Q06); average monthly revenue per subscriber (ARPU) rose 5.3% to $64.17 (up from $60.26 a year ago); revenue from subscribers rose 16% to $2.55 billion. Bloomberg has more.

RCN reported 1st quarter earnings, with revenue up 13% year-over-year to $36 million; residential revenue up 5% and commercial revenue increased 141%.



• ONLINE

Babelgum, a Web video portal founded by Italian telecom billionaire Silvio Scaglia, tapped director Spike Lee to premiere his short film, Jesus Children of America, on the site. Babelgum is bucking the user-generated video craze by featuring professionals’ video when it emerges from beta this year. [CNN Money]

Disney relaunched Disney Connection, its premium broadband service, with multi-player games and targeted channels for different demographics. "For select affiliates, the new version will include full access to Playhouse Disney Preschool Time Online and Disney Game Kingdom Online, two of Disney’s premium subscription products, with a combined current retail value of $99." [Release]

Fox issued a take-down order to Broadcaster.com for illegal posting of The Simpsons episodes. [Release]

Joost raised $45 million in financing with CBS and Viacom participating. [Release]

MySpace inked a deal with the NFL to feature Super Bowl advertisers [CNN Money] and is hosting a series of online town hall debates with presidential candidates. [Release]

Showtime expanded its user-generated fan fiction deal with FanLib.com, which now counts CBS, Starz and other media companies as affiliates. [Release]

USA Network signed an unusual deal with Yahoo! Music, which will track consumer response to independent and unsigned artists on LAUNCHcast and recommend well-performing artists and music to USA Network, which will "utilize the artists’ recordings for marketing and programming on the network." [Release]



• PROGRAMMING

BET premieres the second season of Meet the Faith on June 3 [Release] and moves Ballers to Tuesdays.

CBS promoted Rhonda Troutman Brockmann to SVP, operations and business development, affiliate relations; from VP, affiliate relations.

Hallmark Channel parent Crown Media Holdings reported 1st quarter earnings: Revenue increased 19% to $53.6 million, "primarily due to a 20% increase in advertising revenues and a 20% increase in subscriber fee revenues." As of May 1, Hallmark Channel counted over 82 million subscribers, "making it the fastest growing major cable network this year and since its launch in August 2001."

History Channel‘s "Take a Vet to School Day" public affair initiative linking military veterans with schools and communities will run from mid-Oct. through Veterans Day, Nov. 12. [Release]

MTV Networks parent Viacom reported 1st quarter earnings: Revenue in the quarter increased 16% to $2.75 billion while operating income was down 29% to $443 million, primarily due to restructuring charges of $56 million following MTVN’s 6% workforce reduction in February and increased marketing costs for movies. [AP | Bloomberg | Reuters]

VH1 added Mariah Carey and Jon Bon Jovi to talent roster at VH1 Save the Music Foundation’s 10th anniversary celebration, Sept. 20 in New York. [Release]



• IN OTHER NEWS

The House Commerce Committee holds a hearing on the video marketplace today.

Alaska’s GCI also reported 1st quarter earnings this morning.

Canada’s Shaw Communications announced a two-for-one stock split.

Verizon Wireless allows customers to create their own comics using human and non-human (robot, panda, martian) characters in parnership with Advanced Mobile Applications’ Longtail Studios. [Release]

Microtune touted its DOCSIS 3.0 product (and others, including HD DVRs) in a post-Cable Show release.

Shirley Brady

• Click here for 360AM news briefing for Wednesday, May 9 >>

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