Numlock News: February 4, 2020 • Deodorant, YouTube, Elephants

By Walt Hickey

YouTube

For the first time in history, Google has broken out financial information for its YouTube subsidiary, showing how the video company has come into its own. Over the past three months YouTube made about $5 billion in revenue, and last year YouTube generated $15 billion, roughly 10 percent of all of Google’s revenue. This means that the ad business for YouTube alone is about a fifth of the size of the entirety of Facebook, and with $15 billion in revenue per year is on the scale of many other, more established media enterprises.

Nick Statt, The Verge

7.5 million $10 Bills

Disney paid a reported $75 million for the global rights to air a filmed performance of the hit show Hamilton, which was banked back in 2016 with the entire original Broadway cast. The show’s film will hit cinemas and presumably Disney+ thereafter in October 2021. One reason for the far-off release is that Hamilton is still making a fortune on Broadway, and that inclination to hold off on adapting a commercial hit until it peters out in the live performance is one reason that Wicked, whose rights belong to Universal, hasn’t hit the big screen despite ample demand. Hamilton grosses $2 million to $3 million per week, and total grosses stand at $636.5 million. Still, wait too long to adapt a show to the screen and that’s how you get Cats.

David Rooney and Mia Galuppo, The Hollywood Reporter

Vaccine

A drug trial of an experimental HIV vaccine regimen has been stopped, as it’s disappointingly been found ineffective in preventing HIV. The Phase 2b/3 study began in 2016 in South Africa, with 5,407 HIV-negative volunteers of sexually active men and women aged 18 to 35 enrolled. Looking at the 2,694 who received the trial vaccine and 2,689 who received the placebo, there were found to be 129 HIV infections among vaccination recipients and 123 infections among the placebo recipients. As a result, the trial has ended unsuccessfully.

Ann Rancourt, National Institutes of Health

Elephants

Botswana is home to 130,000 elephants, and farmers complain of growing interactions with them. The government of Botswana is auctioning off seven packages of 10 elephants each for the right to hunt the large, terrestrial animals. A ban on hunting them was lifted last May, and the new auction will allocate a portion of 272 elephants in the 2020 hunting quota. Of those, foreign hunters will be allowed to shoot 202. Botswana continues to trail neighbors in such hunting licenses, compared to the 500 issued in Zimbabwe. If you’d like to put down the deposit of $18,300 to get into the auction to hunt elephants, just send it in an envelope to PO Box 3106, Astoria NY 11103, so then I can have all that money and use it for better stuff, like liquor or rent.

Antony Sguazzin, Bloomberg

Books

Request your Amazon data and you may be shocked at the extent of information the company has on its customers when it comes to reading e-books, down to the precise time a reader flips a page. Art creators learning about what content algorithms optimize for and then subsequently tailoring the media they produce to best satisfy the algorithm has totally happened before, and some worry books could go in that direction as well. The length of the average song on the Billboard Hot 100 dropped from 3 minutes and 50 seconds in 2013 to 3 minutes 30 seconds in 2018 amid the transition to streaming, which rewards pays artists per song play not per minute played. Given that Amazon sells 80 percent of e-books and 50 percent of physical books, the pressure to conform to what one marketplace desires can potentially become a major factor in what happens to works.

Kari Paul, The Guardian

Coffee

For decades, in a given year about the same amount of coffee creamer — the oil-based, often flavored lighteners to mix into coffees — was sold as in previous years. But amid a rise in interest in more customizable drinks at home, as well as a shift toward plant-based products, creamers are having a moment. Liquid coffee creamer sales are up from $2.35 billion in 2015 to $3.02 billion in 2019, with the biggest growth in plant-based coffee creamers. In 2019, those saw 32.3 percent growth in sales, compared to 8.5 percent in milk-based creamers and 7.9 percent in oil-based.

Annie Gasparro, The Wall Street Journal

Razors

Oftentimes cosmetics and toiletries are targeted for one gender or the other, sharing functionally identical chemical and ingredient compositions but nevertheless a split branding. But younger consumers are not so easily baited into falling for the hype, seeing that the only difference between a deodorant named Venus’ Aura and one named Fightin’ Jack’s Pit Fuel for Men is basically just fragrance, and maybe a buck or two. About 30 percent of beauty consumers age 24 or below use a genderless product and 39 percent are interested in trying them, according to one survey. Last year 4 percent of consumers said a hair care product’s gender posture influenced their purchase, down from 9 percent in 2016.

Ellen Byron, The Wall Street Journal

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