Numlock News: May 19, 2021 • Redbox, Canada, Direction

By Walt Hickey

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Television

Vizio is a television company with a data collection operation on the side, but is slowly becoming a data collection company with a television operation. Vizio made $48.2 million in profit from device sales in its first public earnings report, but made $38.4 million in profits from its advertising, data harvesting and sales operations. Granted, the ad stuff is just 7.2 percent of revenue, but it’s growing: device sales are up just 7 percent, while the ad platform is up 133 percent year-over-year.

Samuel Axon, Ars Technica

Direction

Jia Ling has overtaken Patty Jenkins as the highest-grossing female movie director for a single film following the three-month run of her film Hi, Mom. That feature grossed ¥5.41 billion ($838 million), which makes it the 79th highest grossing film of all time, the second-highest grossing film ever in China, and it finished just north of the $823 million grossed worldwide by Jenkin’s Wonder Woman in 2017. The film gained from an unusually long theatrical window that encompassed not just the Lunar New Year in February but also the May 1 Labor Day holiday, which was weird because films usually get just a month at the box office in China and Hi, Mom got two extensions.

Rebecca Davis, Variety

Redbox

Redbox, the vending machine for DVDs, will go public through a SPAC that puts the business at a $693 million valuation. Redbox has 40,000 kiosks scattered across the country, with 39 million members availing themselves of the Blockbuster-in-a-box home video rental service. The company also owns Redbox Entertainment division, which has released 16 titles so far. I was originally going to joke and wave those off as just a bunch of direct-to-DVD late era Nicolas Cage crime dramas, but Redbox Entertainment literally produced Running With The Devil which is, obviously, a direct-to-DVD late era Nicolas Cage crime drama.

Todd Spangler, Variety

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Chat

In 2020, an estimated 40.7 million people installed Azar according to Sensor Tower, which was about double the number who downloaded Tinder in the United States in the same period. The South Korean Chatroulette-style dating app throws users into selfie mode and drops them into video calls with people from all over. Those numbers attracted the attention of one of the titans in the space, and Azar’s parent company was bought by Match Group back in February for $1.7 billion. I know what you’re thinking, that the peculiar innovations of Chatroulette did not particularly lend themselves to the formation of genuine long-term prospective relationships, but apparently when you tie users to their smartphones you can really cut back on the tsunami of filth such a connection otherwise invites.

Andrew Deck, Rest of World

Lithium

A new paper out of a Boston-area university describes for the first time a lithium-metal battery design, which as proposed would appear to escape some of the inherent chemical issues of the lithium-ion batteries that hold the world’s charges. On a long enough timespan, dendrites of lithium form in the lithium-ion batteries, causing short circuits and shortened lifespans; the newly described solid-state metal battery circumvents that. In tests, the battery held 82 percent of maximum charge after 10,000 charge cycles, which is about the lifetime of a conventional vehicle.

Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics

Cup

Canada has not won the Stanley Cup in 28 years, a difficult drought for a nation that thrives on hockey. This year they’ve got a pretty good chance of appearing in the Stanley Cup final, primarily because of the structure of the season and the playoffs this year, with Canada’s seven teams sequestered in their own division and each division sending one contender to the semifinals, guaranteeing a Canadian presence in the conference championships. Canadian teams haven’t faced off in the postseason much, with only 4.6 percent of opening round matchups since 2000 featuring two Canadian teams, and a Canada vs. Canada matchup has occurred just 13 times in the second round in the history of the league.

Laine Higgins, The Wall Street Journal

Flashpoint

A new survey of international relations researchers found that 30.5 percent thought Russia would use military force against Ukraine at some point in the next year, compared to 30.7 percent who thought they would not. Another 38.8 percent said they did not know what they thought about the question. That’s a high number in the context of just 6 percent of the respondents thinking military force between China and Taiwan would happen in the next year.

Irene Entringer Garcia Blanes, Alexandra Murphy, Susan Peterson, Ryan Powers, and Michael J. Tierney, Foreign Policy

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