Numlock News: June 6, 2019 • Ice Cream, Netflix, World Cup

By Walt Hickey


VidAngel was the subject of a lawsuit from Disney, Fox, and Warner Bros. after it attempted to get cute with the home video market. The company — whose core product is censoring the sex, violence and profanity out of movies for consumers who would prefer to watch family safe entertainment — attempted to roll out a workaround to renting digital content well ahead of when studios want their work to hit the rental market. They’d sell access to a movie to a consumer for $20, filter the films, and after viewing buy the digital copy back from them for $19. This was clever, but the Valkyries that populate the legal department of the Walt Disney Company do not care about cleverness, and so they descended upon VidAngel with a vengeance. The court ruled in the studio’s favor, and now a judge will decide what VidAngel owes for the 824 copyrighted works. Damages range from $750 to $150,000 per violation, putting the eventual cost between $1.2 million and $247.2 million overall.

Eriq Garner, The Hollywood Reporter

I Scream

New York City seized 46 ice cream trucks that the city alleges evaded $4.5 million in fines for 22,495 traffic violations since 2009. A further 44 trucks were identified as also allegedly dodging the Department of Finance. Among the seized trucks were many branded with the New York Ice Cream affiliation, the upstart rival to the long-running Mister Softee empire which has, no seriously, been locked in a fearsome and epic battle for turf against their enemy creamsicle slingers. Most of the tickets were issued in Midtown, and the city claims the trucks would rack up thousands in citations. Then the owners would, according to the city, dissolve the shell company, then move the truck to a new company, and repeat. The confiscated trucks each accounted for over $10,000 in unpaid tickets, the city said.

Georgett Roberts and Max Jaeger, The New York Post


The cosmetics industry is responsible for lots of trash and carbon emissions, but a study found that 70 percent of the carbon emissions that can be attributed to the cosmetics business could be eliminated should they switch to refillable containers. Every year, 120 billion units of cosmetics packaging are produced, almost all of it one-time use and much of it too small for recycling. This opportunity is prompting some trials from some serious players in the beauty biz: Procter & Gamble’s Olay skincare brand is introducing a pilot program, and it’s not just for a niche product either: P&G is testing refillable Olay Regenerist Whip, which became the best-selling new skincare product of 2018 after moving 1.26 million units.

Alexis Benveniste and Emily Chasan, Bloomberg


Now that Netflix has reached 60.2 million paid U.S. subscribers after adding a net 1.74 million streaming subscribers last quarter, analysts see the peak coming. A new PwC report finds that increased competition, higher prices and a saturated market mean that Netflix — which long said they believe they can grow to 60 million to 90 million subscribers in the U.S. — may see its growth level off. The company itself projects only an increase of 300,000 net U.S. subscribers in the next quarter, down from 870,000 the same quarter last year.

Todd Spangler, Variety

World Cup!

The 2019 Women’s World Cup begins on Friday, with the defending champion U.S. Women’s National Team heading to France to defend the title. The U.S. is in Group F, one of the easiest of the league excepting rival Sweden, but after that would face a challenging gauntlet of world-class soccer teams, including the potential likes of Spain or China and then powerhouse host nation France, who is the favorite this year. FiveThirtyEight gives France a 20 percent chance of winning and the U.S. an 18 percent chance, followed by Germany and England. This year, the field is tougher than ever before, meaning the games will be more electric than ever.

Neil Paine, FiveThirtyEight

Walk It Off

A new study looked at the ideal step count people should take to remain in good health. 10,000 is a nice and round number, but also intimidating. The reality is that encouraging people to walk more is a higher priority than encouraging them to hit 10,000 steps. According to the study of 17,000 women, mostly in their 70s, that tracked their steps and their health over the next four to five years, those in the study who took only 2,700 steps per day had higher mortality than those who walked more, a death rate that declined up until about 7,500 steps per day, when the benefits seemed to plateau. The “sweet spot” was about 4,500 steps per day, at which point a woman was 40 percent less likely to have died during the follow-up period than the 2,700 steppers.

Gretchen Reynolds, The New York Times


The prevalence and spread of false or deliberately misleading news stories is considered a top-flight problem by Americans surveyed by Pew. A full 50 percent of respondents said that made up news or information is a very big problem in the country today, putting it just above climate change (46 percent) and violent crime (49 percent) and just below the gap between rich and poor (51 percent) and the political system (52 percent). Respondents tended to put the majority of the responsibility when it came to reducing the amount of made-up news on the media, but allocated blame for producing and disseminating it in the first place largely on political leaders (57 percent) and activist groups (53 percent).

Amy Mitchell, Jeffrey Gottfried, Sophia Fedeli, Galen Stocking and Mason Walker, Pew Research Center

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Previous 2019 Sunday special editions: Crazy/Genius ·  Scrubbers ·  Saving the World ·  Summer Movies ·  No One Man Should Have All That Power ·  Film Incentives ·  Stadiums & Casinos ·  Late Night ·  65 is the new 50 ·  Scooternomics ·  Gene Therapy ·  SESTA/FOSTA ·  CAPTCHA ·  New Zealand ·  Good To Go ·  California Football ·  Personality Testing ·  China’s Corruption Crackdown ·  Yosemite

2018 Sunday Editions: 2018  ·  Game of Thrones  ·  Signal Problems · CTE and Football · Facebook · Shark Repellent · Movies · Voting Rights · Goats · Invitation Only · Fat Bear Week · Weinersmith · Airplane Bathrooms ·  NIMBYs ·  Fall 2018 Sports Analytics ·  The Media  ·  Omega-3  ·  Mattress Troubles  ·  Conspiracy Theorists  ·  Beaches  ·  Bubbles  ·  NYC Trash  ·  Fish Wars  ·  Women’s Jeans  ·  Video Stores