July 20, 2019

Netflix Stock Tumbles as U.S. Subscribers Decrease After Price Increases

Globally, Netflix is most likely the largest streaming business, with more than 151 million subscribers. Its future growth will largely come outside the United States, with India representing its best opportunity. Netflix has given up on entering the Chinese market after difficulties with regulators there.

The company’s dominance has prompted more established media giants to embark on streaming services of their own. ATT, which acquired HBO and Turner Broadcasting as part of its $85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner last year, announced plans this month for a streaming service — HBO Max — that will start next year.

The Walt Disney Company will also go big on streaming, with plans to fill an expansive new streaming product, Disney Plus, with franchises like “The Avengers” and “Star Wars.” It will also offer the many television shows and films it picked up when it bought the bulk of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox entertainment empire for $71.3 billion in a deal that closed in March.

Adding to the competition, Apple is shifting away from its focus on hardware to spend more than $1 billion on Hollywood talent as it enters into the entertainment business with Apple TV Plus. That streaming service, with new content from a roster of talent that includes Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and Reese Witherspoon, is scheduled for a fall debut.

“It’s not a zero-sum competition,” Mr. Hastings said on Wednesday. “People will subscribe to multiple shows. I’d wager that most Netflix employees are HBO subscribers.”

As part of its effort to ramp up its original offerings last year, Netflix signed Ryan Murphy, the prolific producer behind “Glee” and the anthology series “American Crime Story,” to a five-year deal said to be worth nearly $300 million. After wooing him away from 21st Century Fox, the company signed another name producer, Shonda Rhimes, the creator of ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” giving her a nine-figure deal.

Netflix released its second-quarter report a little more than a week after the news that it would lose the North American rights to “Friends,” the NBC sitcom that has had a highly remunerative afterlife in syndication and online.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/17/business/media/netflix-earnings-subscribers.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

Have We Hit Peak Podcast?

In 2016, Morgan Mandriota and Lester Lee, two freelance writers looking to grow their personal brands, decided to start a podcast. They called it “The Advice Podcast” and put about as much energy into the show’s production as they did the name. (After all, no one was paying them for this. Yet.) Each week, the friends, neither of whom had professional experience dispensing advice, met in a free room at the local library and recorded themselves chatting with an iPhone 5.

“We assumed we’d be huge, have affiliate marketing deals and advertisements,” Ms. Mandriota said.

But six episodes in, when neither Casper mattresses nor MeUndies had come knocking, the friends quit. Today, Ms. Mandriota says the same D.I.Y. spirit that made having a podcast “alluring” is precisely what doomed the project. “You can talk about the trees outside as much as you want, but if you’re not going to serve listeners and do it in a way that’s engaging, your chances of going viral are low,” she said, calling her show “the most makeshift podcast, with mediocre advice.”

It’s no wonder that the phrase “everyone has a podcast” has become a Twitter punch line. Like the blogs of yore, podcasts — with their combination of sleek high tech and cozy, retro low — are today’s de rigueur medium, seemingly adopted by every entrepreneur, freelancer, self-proclaimed marketing guru and even corporation. (Who doesn’t want branded content by Home Depot and Goldman Sachs piped into their ears on the morning commute?) There are now upward of 700,000 podcasts, according to the podcast production and hosting service Blubrry, with between 2,000 and 3,000 new shows launching each month. In August William Morrow will publish a book by Kristen Meinzer, a co-host of the popular “By the Book” podcast. Its title: “So You Want to Start a Podcast.”

There are dozens of books like Ms. Meinzer’s (with names like “Podcasting Hacks” and “Podcasting for Profit”). There is also a compendium, published by Podcast Junkies, titled “The Incredibly Exhaustive List of Podcasts about Podcasting.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/18/style/why-are-there-so-many-podcasts.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

Netflix Loses U.S. Subscribers as Price Increases Take a Toll

Globally, Netflix is most likely the largest streaming business, with more than 151 million subscribers. Its future growth will largely come outside the United States, with India representing its best opportunity. Netflix has given up on entering the Chinese market after difficulties with regulators there.

The company’s dominance has prompted more established media giants to embark on streaming services of their own. ATT, which acquired HBO and Turner Broadcasting as part of its $85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner last year, announced plans this month for a streaming service — HBO Max — that will start next year.

The Walt Disney Company will also go big on streaming, with plans to fill an expansive new streaming product, Disney Plus, with franchises like “The Avengers” and “Star Wars.” It will also offer the many television shows and films it picked up when it bought the bulk of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox entertainment empire for $71.3 billion in a deal that closed in March.

Adding to the competition, Apple is shifting away from its focus on hardware to spend more than $1 billion on Hollywood talent as it enters into the entertainment business with Apple TV Plus. That streaming service, with new content from a roster of talent that includes Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and Reese Witherspoon, is scheduled for a fall debut.

“It’s not a zero-sum competition,” Mr. Hastings said on Wednesday. “People will subscribe to multiple shows. I’d wager that most Netflix employees are HBO subscribers.”

As part of its effort to ramp up its original offerings last year, Netflix signed Ryan Murphy, the prolific producer behind “Glee” and the anthology series “American Crime Story,” to a five-year deal said to be worth nearly $300 million. After wooing him away from 21st Century Fox, the company signed another name producer, Shonda Rhimes, the creator of ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” giving her a nine-figure deal.

Netflix released its second-quarter report a little more than a week after the news that it would lose the North American rights to “Friends,” the NBC sitcom that has had a highly remunerative afterlife in syndication and online.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/17/business/media/netflix-earnings-subscribers.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

Google Glass May Have an Afterlife as a Device to Teach Autistic Children

“I was trying to build software that could recognize faces,” Mr. Voss said. “And I knew that there were people who struggled with that.”

At the time, the brief moment Google Glass spent in the national spotlight was already coming to an end. Google stopped selling the device to consumers amid concerns that its built-in camera would compromise personal privacy.

But Google Glass lived on as something to be used by researchers and businesses, and Mr. Voss, now a Ph.D. student, spent the next several years developing his application with Dennis Wall, a Stanford professor who specializes in autism research, and others at the university.

Their clinical trial, conducted over two years with 71 children, is one of the first of its kind. It spanned everything from severe forms of autism, including children with speech impairments and tactile sensitivities, to much milder forms. Children who used the software in their homes showed a significant gain on the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, a standard tool for tracking the behavior of those on the autism spectrum, Mr. Voss said.

The gain was in line with improvements by children who received therapy in dedicated clinics through more traditional methods. The hope is that Mr. Voss’s application and similar methods can help more children in more places, without regular visits to clinics.

“It is a way for families to, on some level, provide their own therapy,” Mr. Voss said.

Jeffrey Prickett, Esaïe’s father, said he had been drawn to the study because he had known it would appeal to his son, who enjoys using iPad apps and watching DVD movies.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/17/technology/google-glass-device-treat-autism.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

‘Game of Thrones’ and HBO Dominate 2019 Emmy Nominations

“Game of Thrones” demolished an Emmys record on Tuesday, picking up 32 nominations, the highest total for any show in a single year. The final season of the HBO series beat out “NYPD Blue,” which had 26 nominations in 1994.

A three-time winner for best drama, “Game of Thrones” is the favorite to win the category once again when the envelopes are unsealed at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Sept. 22. A fourth win for the show would tie an Emmy record.

While the record number of nominations augurs well, the eighth and final season of “Game of Thrones,” which had its finale on May 19, proved a bit much for some fans and critics. Some complained about what they perceived as hairpin narrative turns and sudden character flip-flops as the show raced ahead of the narrative provided by the still-unfinished series of novels it is based on, “A Song of Ice and Fire,” by George R. R. Martin.

If “Game of Thrones” fails to pull off a best drama win on Emmy night, a newcomer could find itself in the role of spoiler. Of last year’s nominees, only “Game of Thrones” and “This Is Us” have a crack at the big prize this time around. Other contenders for best drama include five first-timers in the category: BBC America’s “Killing Eve,” HBO’s “Succession,” FX’s “Pose,” and a pair of Netflix shows, “Bodyguard” and “Ozark.” The other best drama nominee, “Better Call Saul,” was last nominated in 2017.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/16/arts/television/emmy-awards-nominees-live-updates.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

The Apollo 11 Mission Was Also a Global Media Sensation

Networks in the United States rounded out their coverage with hours of analysis and moon-related entertainment. On ABC, the science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov chatted with Rod Serling, the creator of “The Twilight Zone” television series. The network had also commissioned Duke Ellington to create something new for the occasion. He made his television debut as a vocalist, performing the song he had composed, “Moon Maiden,” live on the air.

Headline writers conveyed the news with attempts at deadline poetry. The Kokomo Tribune, in Indiana, went with “Astronauts Etch Names Beside History’s Great Explorers.” The Oil City Derrick, in Pennsylvania, was more succinct: “Yanks Land on Moon.” The New York Times’s banner headline — the straightforward “Men Walk on Moon” — was set in some of the largest type ever used in the paper.

The coverage of Apollo 11 was subdued in Moscow. “It was not secret, but it was not shown to the public,” Sergei Khrushchev, the son of the former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, told Scientific American in 2009.

In the United States, NASA had spent years molding its astronauts into mythic figures, giving Life magazine exclusive access as part of its attempt to shape public opinion. Americans became emotionally invested in the crew members thanks to cover stories documenting the “making of a brave man” and the “inner thoughts and worries” of the spacemen’s wives.

“That had a large effect in showing how big a deal it is to go to space, and it helped to make the astronaut-as-celebrity culture come alive,” Mr. Scott, the author, said. “You’d flip through magazine pages and see Joe DiMaggio, a hero of baseball, and then a few pages later, an astronaut. That’s mythmaking.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/15/business/media/apollo-11-television-media.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

Sony Gives Literary Film Division, Axed by Disney, a Second Life

“We love our superheroes, but new intellectual property is also really important, and throughout the history of Hollywood, literary intellectual property has always flourished,” Thomas E. Rothman, chairman of Sony’s Motion Picture Group, said in an interview. “This is an innovative way to give Sony early access to HarperCollins authors. To work with Elizabeth, who is a superstar, makes authors feel not just comfortable but fortunate.”

Mr. Rothman, who has orchestrated a turnaround at Sony in recent years, beat out a competing bid from Paramount Pictures, which has been working on a comeback of its own.

Ms. Gabler is expected to take a half-dozen projects from Fox 2000 with her. On Aug. 9, Disney will release a completed film she left behind, “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” based on Garth Stein’s 2008 novel, which was published by HarperCollins.

Ms. Gabler acknowledged that the box office had shifted toward franchise spectacles in the Netflix age, making it harder for dramas and comedies based on books to break through. But she rejected the notion that such films were no longer viable in theaters.

“A best-selling book brings enormous audience pre-awareness,” she said, noting that Mr. Stein’s “Art of Racing in the Rain” had sold more than eight million copies.

Ms. Gabler previously worked for Mr. Rothman, who resigned as chairman of Fox’s movie group in 2012 after a long run. HarperCollins, part of Mr. Murdoch’s News Corporation, was a corporate sibling to Fox in that era, but there was not an official system of funneling books to the studio, Mr. Rothman said.

“I’ve wanted this equivalent of a Disneyland FastPass for a long time,” he said, referring to the new setup with HarperCollins.

One of the big five publishers, HarperCollins has had several breakout hits recently, including Rachel Hollis’s self-help books “Girl, Wash Your Face” and “Girl, Stop Apologizing.” In its recent earnings for the third quarter of the 2019 fiscal year, HarperCollins reported a 29 percent rise in earnings from the same period in 2018.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/15/business/media/sony-harpercollins-elizabeth-gabler.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

‘Stuber’ Stalls, Dealing Another Setback to Comedies and Disney’s Fox

“Stuber” arrived in fourth place. It collected $8 million.

Distributed by Disney, which took over the Fox movie factory in March, “Stuber” had a marketing campaign that cost at least $30 million. Disney aggressively went after men, releasing trailers during WrestleMania and the N.B.A. Finals. Disney-owned ESPN was a marketing partner. The film’s crass tagline: “Saving the day takes a pair.”

“Stuber,” about an Uber driver named Stu who picks up a detective, received largely negative reviews, according to the criticism-aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes. David A. Gross, who runs Franchise Entertainment Research, a movie consultancy, called it “an extremely weak entry.”

[Read our “Stuber” review.]

The previous Fox film released by Disney was the superhero movie “Dark Phoenix,” which collapsed under withering reviews last month. It cost an estimated $350 million to make and market worldwide and took in about $250 million, roughly half of which goes to theater owners.

Another Fox film, “Woman in the Window,” starring Amy Adams as an agoraphobic psychologist who witnesses a crime, was pulled from Disney’s 2019 release schedule last week and sent for reshoots. Instead of being released in October as planned, the movie will now arrive sometime next year.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/14/movies/stuber-spider-man-far-from-home-box-office.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

Fighting Big Tech Makes for Some Uncomfortable Bedfellows

Tech bias has been a longtime concern for the right, and Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s former chief strategist, frequently mentioned it. Little came of it.

Now the movement is finding more mainstream allies. Mr. Kirk and others who have complained of an anti-conservative bias by Facebook, Google and Twitter attended a social media summit at the White House on Thursday. At the event, Mr. Trump accused the companies of exhibiting “terrible bias” and said he was calling representatives from all of them to the White House over the next month.

On Friday, Mr. Trump took the tech companies to task again, calling them “crooked” and “dishonest” and adding that “something is going to be done.”

“In my circles right now,” Mr. Pethokoukis said, “if you say, ‘I don’t think we’re seeing systemic bias against conservatives,’ it’s like they wonder about your sanity.”

Matt Stoller, a former Democratic congressional staff member who is now at the antimonopoly think tank Open Markets Institute, which leans liberal, said he noticed the same thing.

“The white supremacists liked to appropriate this language around antimonopoly and free speech,” said Mr. Stoller, who has written a book on the antimonopoly movement, “Goliath.” “But now there are real networks on the right that are not white supremacist networks, and the people in them are genuinely concerned about the power of Big Tech.”

He said he was having to reassess his relationships with conservatives.

“I always knew we were aiming at different things,” he said. “Now, we have some of the same goals.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/14/technology/big-tech-strange-bedfellows.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

Facebook Dodged a Bullet From the F.T.C. It Faces Many More.

Facebook said in a statement on Saturday that, “by updating the rules for the internet, we can preserve what’s best about it.” The company added, “We want to work with governments and policymakers to design the sort of smart regulation that fosters competition, encourages innovation and protects consumers.”

Facebook is the centerpiece of a broader reckoning facing the tech industry, with governments beginning to collaborate in their response. The European Commission has shared information with the F.T.C. and the Justice Department about its past investigations into Google. And this spring, Ireland’s top privacy regulator, who has been investigating Facebook and Google, met with officials in Washington.

In May, an annual meeting of antitrust regulators from around the world turned into a four-day strategy session focused on the tech industry. Joseph Simons, the head of the F.T.C., and Makan Delrahim, the assistant attorney general overseeing antitrust at the Justice Department, were among those who attended the event in Colombia.

“It’s good news that the U.S. agencies are diving into this discussion,” said Andreas Mundt, Germany’s top antitrust enforcer, who helped organize the meeting and in February issued one of the first antitrust rulings against Facebook. “It’s clear these are companies that are active worldwide and thus a worldwide approach is not a bad idea.”

Mr. Mundt and other regulators believe that actions against Facebook and its industry peers must go beyond fines. Instead, many authorities want to force structural changes to how the businesses operate — like their collection of data and sale of digital advertising.

After the F.T.C. decision, Facebook’s next sanctions are expected to come from Europe, where the authorities have traditionally been more assertive against the tech industry than American regulators.

Ireland’s data-protection office has 11 investigations underway against Facebook for violations of European privacy law, the General Data Protection Regulation, or G.D.P.R. (Ireland has jurisdiction over Facebook under the privacy law because the company’s European headquarters is in Dublin.) At least two verdicts against the company are likely in the coming months.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/13/technology/facebook-privacy-investigations.html?emc=rss&partner=rss