By Walt Hickey
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As a condition of Disney buying Fox, the company had to sell off 22 regional sports networks. Those assets had been spiraling upwards in price for years, with live sports becoming one of the most valuable and pricey commodities in entertainment. Analysts predicted the 22 RSNs would fetch something like $20 billion to $22 billion, but a number of headwinds — such as a dwindling consumer appetite to stomach the $5 or $6 per month padding out their cable bill year-round — meant that the Mouse had to sell at a discount that is rippling through the sports business ecosystem. The Yankees bought back the YES Network for $3.47 billion, but the other RSNs sold to Sinclair for only $10.6 billion, a multi-billion dollar adjustment that has cord cutting to thank.
Great news from the Chesapeake as the population of crabs has rebounded from a rough streak to the highest levels in seven years. The 2019 count of spawning-age females — the best way to figure out future population growth — is at 190 million, up 29 percent over last winter. Not only can crabbers anticipate a good 2019 season with some 600 million crabs in the bay, but also 2020 is likewise going to be even better. In the winter of 2018, a third of adult crabs in the bay died during hibernation due to cold temperatures, so a second consecutive year of growth is great to hear.
Gyms and grocery stores are now being voraciously courted by landlords grappling with the tough times seen in brick-and-mortar retail. The number of gym tenants in shopping centers doubled in the past decade to 14,000 locations, with the key advantage being that they bring in lots of repeat foot traffic and customers who will hit the shops after hitting the treadmill. Since 2008, gym membership in the U.S. has risen an incomprehensible 37 percent. One beneficiary — low-key Planet Fitness — announced this week it’ll open 225 locations this year on top of the 1,800 it already has (already up 60 percent over three years ago). Much like the noble hermit crab, Planet Fitness is reportedly eyeing former locations of erstwhile anchor tenants like Toys “R” Us and Sears.
Hey Now, You’re A Rock Star, Get The Show On, Get Paid
In 1982, the top 1 percent of music performers took in 26 percent of the total concert-ticket revenue. As of 2017, the top 1 percent (about 109 acts) ate up 60 percent of the revenue. All told the top 5 percent of artists took in 85 percent of all live music revenue, up from 62 percent in the earlier era. That leaves the remaining 95 percent of artists — some 10,267 acts — with just 15 percent of the pie, when once they lived off 38 percent. A request to identify the Bernie Sanders of music returned, at press time, approximately 10,267 applications.
Bat-Signal > Batman
A new paper published in NBER found that a study introducing temporary streetlights into several public housing developments drastically reduced crime. Over the six month period in 2016, the study observed a 59 percent reduction in index crimes and found little evidence that crimes were displaced — ne’er-do-wells moving to the less illuminated adjacent areas — and instead were straight-up prevented. Including those possible spillovers, turning up the lights led to a 36 percent reduction in outdoor nighttime index crimes. Here’s the wild part, since 11 percent of those crimes take place outside and at night, the 4 percent overall reduction in crime simply by turning up the lights is about what you’d expect with a 10 percent increase in police manpower. A more permanent installation comes with an estimated 4-to-1 ratio of benefits to costs.
An increase in shipping is projected to come with a commensurate increase in marine invasions, which is less “Namor invades New York” or “Aquaman repels Black Manta’s strike force” and more a non-native species is introduced into a new ecosystem after hitching a ride in the ballast water of a container ship and proceeds to not only survive but also wreak havoc. Less cinematic, just as bad. The latest projections have global maritime traffic increasing anywhere from 240 percent to 1,209 percent by 2050, which would lead to anywhere from a threefold to twentyfold increase to the risks of marine invasions in the next 30 years.
As the streaming wars truly begin, it’s only a matter of time before all remaining content is woo’d to one side or another, even the stuff that’s been a little hard to sell for various reasons. The MGM-backed Tubi is in the middle of such an acquisition spree, raiding the content garage sales and hunting for deals. The ad-supported streaming service plans to spend $100 million on content licensing this year alone and has locked down the rights to the early seasons of The Bachelor and stuff like eclectic older television shows not already firmly in the IP library of a major corporation like The A-Team and Xena: Warrior Princess or The Incredible Hulk. They’ve just picked up the rights to 15 seasons of some NBC reality program called The Apprentice, a television show that ran for 192 episodes and whose initial host is now better known for other work.
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