The daily business briefing: February 15, 2017
Facebook announces a video app for TVs, Cigna ends $54 billion merger with Anthem, and more
Facebook launches video app for TVs
Facebook announced Tuesday that it is launching an app that will let users stream videos through Apple and Amazon set-top boxes, and Samsung smart TVs. The video app is the latest example of Facebook's push to become a "video-first" company competing in the TV ad market. The app will allow Facebook users to watch videos shared by friends and companies or public figures they follow, as well as showcase live broadcasts and videos recommended by Facebook based on users' interests. Video on Facebook has grown to billions of views recently, as broadcasters and users experiment as they have done with YouTube. Facebook also is in talks with the music industry to gain access to songs and other professional content.
Cigna says it is ending proposed $54 billion merger with Anthem
Cigna announced Tuesday that it was unilaterally ending its proposed $54 billion merger with Anthem. The news came after a judge rejected the deal. Earlier in the day, rival health insurers Aetna and Humana announced that they, too, were scrapping merger plans, after a judge rejected their proposed $37 billion deal, saying it would hurt competition. Anthem said it still hoped to figure out a way to salvage its merger with Cigna, which is seeking a $1.85 billion termination fee and another $13 billion in damages.
Yellen tells Congress next interest rate hike not far off
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen told the Senate Banking Committee that it would be "unwise" to wait too long before raising interest rates again, but she did not offer any hints on whether Fed policy makers would hike rates at their March meeting. Yellen said the Fed would continue adjusting its plans on interest rates depending on whether inflation reaches the 2 percent target rate, and how the Trump administration's policies, which include promised tax and regulation cuts, affect the economy. Yellen is scheduled to appear at a House hearing on Wednesday.
Humana says it is pulling out of ObamaCare exchanges
Humana announced Tuesday that it would stop offering health insurance through ObamaCare state marketplaces. It will be the first major health insurance provider to stop selling individual policies on the public exchanges next year. President Trump, who has vowed to replace former President Barack Obama's signature healthcare reform law, pounced on the news as fresh evidence that ObamaCare should be repealed. "ObamaCare continues to fail," Trump tweeted. Many of the state exchanges appear stable but insurers are complaining about their uncertain future, as Republicans debate a potential replacement.
YouTube, Disney stop featuring PewDiePie over anti-Semitic jokes
YouTube and Disney this week ended business ties to the YouTuber named Felix Kjellberg, also known as PewDiePie, over several videos containing anti-Jewish jokes or Nazi images. Kjellberg, a 27-year-old Swedish comedian, is the most popular YouTuber on the planet. His videos have racked up billions of views, leading to big-money advertising and business deals. A YouTube spokesperson confirmed on Tuesday that the video-sharing site is canceling the second season of Kjellberg's "Scare PewDiePie" series, and removing the PewDiePie channel from the Google Preferred service showcasing top-performing videos, although he will get to keep and monetize his YouTube channel, which has more than 53 million subscribers.