Numlock News: March 7, 2019

By Walt Hickey

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Football

The most recent bout of NFL rights will soon potentially be up for grabs. Every year, CBS, NBC and Fox pay about $3.1 billion for the rights to broadcast Sunday NFL games, up from $1.94 billion under the previous contract. Meanwhile, the ESPN weekly broadcasts of Monday Night Football set Disney back $1.9 billion per year, up from $1.1 billion paid out in the previous contract. And despite the fact that overall viewership has decreased since 2016, the fees for the rights are nonetheless anticipated to surge, particularly as the rest of the TV landscape collapses beneath its feet.

Brian Steinberg, Variety

Happiness

Researchers at the University of Vermont have developed a system that tracks the use of 10,000 common positive and negative words in the English language to determine how the teeming masses of Twitter are feeling. A five is a neutral score, with any number higher showing a generally positive disposition. Most days clock in around a six. But things haven’t been going great mood-wise on the social network: In 2015, there were only two days where the score dipped below 6.0, while 2019 has had 48 such days thus far. The best days to be on the internet since 2010 include the 2014 Super Bowl performance, the day that the llamas escaped and The Dress beguiled the world, and the day the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, according to the analysis.

Victor Luckerson, The Ringer

Sole Survivor

In what observers consider an ecological tragedy, one of two remaining members of a dying species has finally reached the end of the line, as one of two remaining Blockbuster locations in the world closes down in Australia. This leaves only one surviving member of its order — the Blockbuster in Bend, Oregon — and devastates a generation of fans who hoped the last two surviving members of their species could produce hope for the future.

Rhett Jones, Gizmodo

Withdrawal

A new study seriously pushes back on the idea that it takes four weeks to wean a patient off of anti-depressants. That piece of wisdom has caused issues in previous studies — 78 percent of people who tried to taper off Paxil over the four-week period suffered severe withdrawal symptoms — but according to the new study, tapering off anti-depressants over a period of nine months to four years meant only 6 percent of subjects experienced withdrawal. The research could seriously change how the industry medicates, as over 15 million Americans have taken antidepressants for at least five years, triple the level in 2000.

Benedict Carey, The New York Times

Farmers

In the U.S., farmers spent $22 billion on seeds alone in 2018. It’s one of the largest and widely varying expenses for farmers, as the patent-protected GMO seeds can vary substantially in price year to year. Since 2010, farmers have been spending 35 percent more on seeds, which can’t be explained by additional acreage planted, but rather by the volatility and obfuscation of prices. Seeds are sold through local dealers, not online, and true prices can be hard to suss out. Monsanto and DowDuPont account for 72 percent of corn and soybean seed sales in the U.S., but a new company is seeking to cut through the serpentine seed market and sell competitive non-GMO seeds. The average price for a bag of GMO corn seed is $270 per bag, compared to the $115 per bag from the Farmers Business Network startup.

Elizabeth G Dunn, Bloomberg

Throws

Mardi Gras in New Orleans leaves a formidable heap of trash behind, in addition to the estimated $165 million the celebration brings to the big easy. Every year, about 45 million pounds of plastic head to New Orleans for the holiday, half of which is in bead necklaces, and it’s not like hammered revelers are excellent at disposing of their plastic necklaces in the proper trash receptacle. Last January, the city said it pulled 93,000 pounds of beads from five blocks of storm drains alone. Biodegradable beads are potentially in the future for the celebration, which certainly sounds superior to the whole “there’s enough lead in this plastic to be unhappy with the situation” formulation right now.

Eric Roston, Bloomberg

Wrong Time To Bet On Michael Jackson

Last year, Sony Music Entertainment agreed to pay about $250 million for the rights to distribute Michael Jackson’s catalog for a further seven years, and boy do I hope the people who negotiated that one have a subscription to HBO. This week saw the premiere of the gut-wrenching Leaving Neverland documentary, which features the independent stories of two men who allege they were abused as children by the singer. The singer’s estate has filed a $100 million suit against the doc, which had the third-largest premiere of any HBO doc in the past decade with 1.3 million viewers on Sunday and a further 600,000 online through Tuesday. Man, if only the Sony music execs had any inkling that Jackson just might not have been entirely on the level before inking that deal.

Anne Steele and John Jurgensen, The Wall Street Journal

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Previous 2019 Sunday special editions: 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