Numlock News: October 16, 2020 • Wildcard, Chinchillas, Premies

By Walt Hickey

Have a great weekend!


Big Hit Entertainment, the company behind K-Pop group BTS went public yesterday in a smash-hit initial public offering that jumped 91 percent from their initial offering price over the first day of trading. This values the company pretty high, about $8 billion, which by comparison Warner Music Group is one of the largest labels in the world with many artists under management and is worth $15 billion. Live Nation Entertainment, which runs concerts, is worth $12 billion. Needless to say an investment in Big Hit is a pretty direct investment in BTS, which made $170 million on the road last year behind only Metallica: the one band was responsible for 88 percent of Big Hit’s revenue in the first half of this year.

Frances Yoon, The Wall Street Journal


A South African-based gold miner has set its eyes on a Chilean mine believed to contain 3.5 million ounces of extractable gold, but one thing — rather, 25 things — stands in their way: a colony of chinchillas, high-altitude endangered rodents native to South America. The Salares Norte mining project will cost $860 million, and it can only happen after the mining company handles the chinchillas appropriately, per their agreement with the Chilean government. In August the company began a nine-month operation to trap and move 25 chinchillas living 12,800 and 15,400 feet above sea level to an ideal location 2.5 miles away. The project thus far has cost $400,000 — including a population survey conducted by satellite — and if they pull it off they can have those buried billions.

Ed Stoddard, UnDark


Yesterday, the Tony Award nominations were announced, and given that only four musicals qualified for nominations it’s a pretty slim year in some cases. Take the category for best performance by an actor in a leading role in a musical, where just one performer — Aaron Tveit, who played the lead in Moulin Rouge! — received a nomination. There is one hiccup on his way to a Tony, though: he’s not actually guaranteed a win, as 60 percent of voters have to cast a ballot in his favor for him to actually win, per esoteric Tony rules that have rarely come up until this exact moment. Leave it to the theater kids to make everything as dramatic as possible at all times, you know?

Ashley Lee, The Los Angeles Times

Higher Ed

Undergraduate enrollments in American universities have taken a serious dive, according to the latest from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. The number of first-year undergraduate students fell by 16 percent, according to the report, as many would-be freshmen go for a gap year or forego college. International undergraduates also saw an enormous dip, decreasing 13.7 percent, owing to difficulties with travel restrictions and visas. A sole bright spot for colleges? Grad school enrollment’s up 2.7 percent.

Janet Lorin, Bloomberg



A new paper based on birth data in the Netherlands backs up other research from Ireland and Denmark that found that preterm births decreased during lockdown periods, an enigma that provokes more questions than it answers about the possible causes of early births. Speculation includes cleaner air, reduced stress — as we all remember March was not exactly easy breezy but less commuting and movement is what they’re getting at — or better hygiene. The Dutch study looked at 1.5 million infants born between 2010 and 2020 and specifically the 56,000 babies born after the Netherlands locked down in response to the pandemic. The reduction in early births was anywhere from 15 percent to 23 percent, according to the researchers, which is great because it means that it’s possible to reduce the rate of preterm birth which has been otherwise fairly stubborn and resistant to reduction.

Elizabeth Preston, The New York Times


A new working paper documented an increase in residential electricity use and a decrease in industrial and commercial electricity use during the pandemic, with a 10 percent increase in residential consumption against a 12 percent decrease in commercial usage and a 14 percent decrease in industrial electrical consumption. This differed from the 2008 recession, when there was an industrial reduction in electricity but no corresponding increase in residential use. Basically, work-from-home is visible in the very electrons we’re using, and your boss probably owes you money: from April to July, total excess expenditure on residential electricity was $6 billion, according to the study, with electricity bills up $20 per month on average at utilities that serve a fifth of U.S. households.

Steve Cicala, National Bureau of Economic Research


Amazon streams 11 regular-season Thursday NFL games for about $75 million per year, and the tech conglomerate has inked a new deal with the NFL to get one of the two new wildcard playoff games coming this season. Terms weren’t disclosed, but Amazon paid lots more than their average per-game price, and will be sharing the game with CBS, which paid $70 million for that one game. NBC Sports paid $75 million for the second new wildcard game and in addition to the typical network distribution they’ll also put it on Peacock.

Joe Flint, The Wall Street Journal

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