Cable360AM — News briefing for Thursday, August 2 »

The New York Yankees’ YES Network is on the block, with the channel’s investors—but not team owner George Steinbrenner’s 37% stake—weighing bids from potential buyers, reports Fortune: "Goldman and Chambers would like to cash out, YES and Yankees insiders say, and one source says to expect a deal by summer’s end. Some possible bidders: Cablevision, Comcast, News Corp. and Verizon." Bloomberg, picking up on Fortune‘s scoop, notes a sale could bring in $2 billion (the team is hoping for $3 billion). Bids are due Aug. 10.

Sprint has pulled out of SpectrumCo LLC, the wireless consortium with Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks and Cox Communications that last fall won 137 licenses in the FCC’s wireless spectrum auction. The move—which was "long planned," a spokesperson tells the Kansas City Star—will not impact its other cable industry joint venture, the Pivot-branded mobile phone service.

CNBC today breaks a new marketing campaign, reports the New York Times (which posts the new CNBC spots here). Its "I Am American Business" branding effort comes a day after News Corp.‘s acquisition of Dow Jones throws a possible spanner into CNBC’s exclusive TV content deal with the Wall Street Journal. The Los Angeles Times this morning also looks at the looming battle between Fox Business Network and CNBC, which (according to the Wall Street Journal) expects its contract "to be honored." Dow Jones execs, meanwhile, "hinted that the CNBC agreement may not block other TV channels from access to Dow Jones’s ‘brands and content’ when it is related to ‘nonbusiness journalism.’"

Time Warner and IBM will cross-license their respective patent portfolios in a deal that will boost Time Warner Cable‘s platforms including VOD, video search, interactive ads, multiplatform content distribution, content protection and home networking. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

Discovery Networks announced the first batch of "iPremieres" for its original series, streaming full-length episodes online a day before they hit its Discovery on Demand VOD service. Animal Planet‘s Meerkat Manor‘s season 3 premiere will stream here tomorrow, a week before its on-air premiere. On Aug. 8, new episodes of Discovery Channel‘s Dirty Jobs and TLC‘s new series, LA Ink, will premiere on their respective websites a day after their network premieres, and a day before they hit VOD. Discovery tapped Move Networks to handle its TV networks’ online video streaming.

Comcast will begin the final stage of its Seattle-area switch from Microsoft TV to its proprietary interactive program guide starting next week, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.



• EARNINGS

BigBand Networks reported a 2nd quarter profit.

Charter Communications reported 2nd quarter earnings with a narrower loss and pro forma revenues up 11% (to $1.498 billion) year-over-year. Subscribers increased 166,300 in the quarter, including 127,700 new phone customers, marking its highest 2nd quarter RGU net gain in five years. Like Comcast and Time Warner Cable’s 2nd quarter results, Charter lost basic subscribers in the quarter.

Citizens Communications (whose CEO, Maggie Wilderotter, just joined Yahoo’s board) noted on its 2nd quarter earnings call that digital phone will be its primary tactic against cable operators and other competitors.

Disney, which yesterday reported solid earnings for the quarter ending June 30, acquired kids’ online social network Club Penguin for $350 million in cash and up to $350 million pegged to future revenues. The virtual network (which boasts 12 million registered users and 700,000 subscribers) will retain its URL and Canadian base while its founders will join the Walt Disney Internet Group; more in this morning’s New York Times.

Qwest‘s 2nd quarter results "were better than expected, but we have concerns about how … they’re trying to be competitive" against Comcast and other competitors, Standard & Poor’s analyst Todd Rosenbluth tells the Denver Post. Qwest’s earnings call addressed its competitive challenges.

Viacom reported 2nd quarter earnings with revenue from MTVN and other cable networks up 10% (to $1.92 billion) and overall revenues up 13% (to $3.19 billion) in the quarter. More details in the earnings call.

WWE‘s 2nd quarter earnings fell 52% due to a $15.7 million impairment charge related to its box office flop, The Condemned.



• PROGRAMMING

A&E is promoting its "Dog Days of Summer" stunt (starting Aug. 7) for Dog the Bounty Hunter by letting viewers’ votes decide on Dog episodes that will run on Aug. 12th (on aetv.com) and 13th (on-air); a NASCAR sponsorship (with Dish Network) featuring Dog debuts this weekend. All Mexican charges related to the Andrew Luster case have been dropped against Duane "Dog" Chapman, the series’ star.

AMC will expand its original programming next year, with its 2nd scripted series—Breaking Bad—premiering in January; details are here.

CNN will premiere Afghanistan: Lifting the Veil—a follow-up to its 2001 doc, Beneath the Veil—on Sept. 15.

DIY Network is paying "just under $1 million" for its two-year, 39-episode upcoming Martha Stewart Craft series, which packages crafting segments from the Martha Stewart Living Show, according to Stewart’s 2nd quarter company earnings call yesterday.

Filipino on Demand, a new VOD offering from ABS-CBN, launched in key Comcast markets across the country.

Mojo, the HD channel from In Demand, will premiere original doc Startup Junkies in January.

The NFL Network launched yesterday on a digital sports tier on Cox Communications‘ Lafayette, LA, system ahead of Sunday’s New Orleans Saints exhibition game against Pittsburgh, a channel exclusive. [The Advertiser]

Ovation TV will celebrate artists during a 14-day stunt from Aug. 12-25, featuring 25 programs and an original special that premieres Aug. 12 titled Art or Not?

Setanta Sports yesterday launched to Dish Network‘s 13.4 million subscribers, which can now get English soccer, rugby and other international sports from the Irish broadcaster. Fortune has more on Setanta, which already has a U.S. deal with DirecTV.

TNT renewed The Closer for a 4th season that will debut next summer, and is promoting miniseries The Company ahead of Sunday’s premiere with a 10-part broadband series, Spy Toys of the CIA.



• ONLINE

American Airlines will test in-flight broadband next year, reports USA Today.

Current TV tapped AKQA for online duties.

After jumping from YouTube to Revver, LonelyGirl15‘s new Web home is MySpace TV, which will host an exclusive "season finale" by rerunning 12 episodes over 12 hours tomorrow; new episodes start Monday.

England’s legendary Manchester United team reportedly signed a nine-year-old soccer phenom based on this YouTube clip. [Reuters | AP]

New York Times‘ tech columnist David Pogue reviews free options for Internet-based phone calls, including iCall, Jajah, PhoneGnome and Ooma.

The Internet has replaced TV as the "dominant force in political campaigning," according to a seven-year research study from the Center for the Digital Future at the USC Annenberg School for Communications. [Hollywood Reporter]



• WIRELESS

Following its partial victory at the FCC over the upcoming wireless spectrum auction, Google is pitching U.S. wireless operators on developing cell phones customized to Google’s search engine, email and mobile Web browser, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Si TV launched a website soliciting video auditions for its new V CAST host.



• PEOPLE

Bravo promoted Cori Abraham to VP, development and production; from director.

Cox Communications hired Scott Wise as VP of customer care, from VP of resource planning at Earthlink.

EchoStar Communications hired Jessica Heacock Insalaco, former EVP of affiliate sales and marketing at MTV Networks, as SVP and chief marketing officer. She will be replaced as WICT’s chair by Jennifer Dangar, SVP of domestic distribution for Discovery Communications.

NBC Universal promoted Darren Feher, EVP and CTO, to oversee a new media technology organization.

Click here for Wednesday’s 360AM news briefing »

Got a tip? Contact Shirley Brady at sbrady@accessintel.com

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