Numlock News: September 11, 2019 • College Sports, Concert Tickets, Golf in Japan

By Walt Hickey

Fake Followers

There are 95 million fake accounts on Instagram, and not just the kind of fake where they’re only posting the stuff that makes them look compelling, interesting and sexually attractive, but fake as in flim-flam facades of photography forged to inflate followings and financial profit. Since sponsors pay influencers based on the size of the audience they can expect to reach, those accounts buying up fake followers have serious and detrimental costs: in 2019, they are estimated to cost brands $1.3 billion in payments to reach people who do not in fact exist. The latest offering: “drip followers,” where if an influencer pays a broker for 30,000 followers, they arrive 50 per day for 600 days rather than all at once, which historically has been a clear smoking gun that an Insta celeb isn’t the real deal.

Emma Grey Ellis, Wired

Brigadier General M. G. Zalinski

In 1946, the U.S. Army transport ship Brigadier General M. G. Zalinski ran aground and sank off the coast of British Columbia. It’s now resting on a shelf 34 meters below the surface. While all hands (and the dog!) escaped the wreck safely, the Zalinski was also carrying 700 tonnes of bunker fuel and 100 tonnes of chemical disasters-in-waiting, including paint, gasoline, oil, turpentine, carbon tetrachloride, 132 bombs weighing 225 to 900 kg each, 276 practice bombs (just for fun I guess), 20 cases of blasting caps, 26 hand grenades, 10 boxes of tear gas grenades, and 473 boxes of ammunition. Needless to say that is broadly considered by the diving community to be a non-ideal situation. In 2003, it began leaking oil, which led to a decade of dithering, and then to a $50 million (Canadian) commitment in 2013 to remove 44 tonnes of bunker oil and 319 tonnes of oily water from the rapidly degrading vessel. The U.S. has not been billed.

Larry Pynn, Hakai Magazine

College $ports

The California legislature passed SB 206 by an overwhelming margin, 31-5 in the State Senate and 72-0 in the Assembly. The bill allows college athletes to sign endorsement deals, prohibiting schools in the state from pulling scholarships or eligibility from college athletes who parlay their personal athletic talents into dollars. Advocates include current Lakers basketball player LeBron James and retired elementary school basketball participant Bernie Sanders, who is better known for other work. The bill now heads to Gov. Gavin Newsom, who will be lobbied by bill opponents such as the NCAA, Pac-12 and all the university athletic departments in the state that do not have a banana slug as a mascot.

Maitreyi Anantharaman, Deadspin


Japan is enduring lots of the demographic changes and challenges that the U.S. is, only worse and much earlier than the Americans are. This is one reason why fans of golf are looking to Japan — the third-most golfing nation after the U.S. and Canada — to see how they handle a game in decline. In 2018, 6.7 million people in Japan played golf, down from 14.8 million in 1992. There has also been a decline in the number of golf courses in the country, down from 2,460 courses in 2002 to 2,257 golf courses in 2017. Some of those that shut down have been converted into solar energy farms, which is a jarring leap for the properties to go from “a pretty cool place to hit a golf ball” to “easily the worst possible place to hit a golf ball.” One bonus for golfers is that the game is relatively inexpensive, as a round of 18 plus lunch and a cart costs less than $94. That’s one reason the nation is looking to tourism, which has more than tripled since 2010, to bolster the industry.

Tim Hornyak, The New York Times

Get The Show On Get Paid

The average price of a concert ticket has quadrupled over the past two decades, rising from $25.81 in 1996 to $91.89 in the first half of 2019, vastly outpacing inflation. The price of a concert ticket rose 254.8 percent over the period, compared to a more manageable 106.1 percent for movie tickets and just 55.1 percent for the U.S. consumer price index, a gauge of inflation across the economy as a whole. The live music industry reaped $8 billion in revenue in 2017, and the experience at those concerts — merch and booze — is also on the rise, jumping from a $20 average spending per fan at events staged by Live Nation in 2016 to a $29 average this year. The past two years have seen anomalously high prices after a jump in average ticket price from $78.90 in 2017 to $91.60 last year.

Lucas Shaw, Bloomberg

Morning Show

The generation-spanning war between ABC’s Good Morning America and NBC’s Today has hit a fever pitch, as just 35,000 viewers separate the notoriously cutthroat shows overall. On average, last week Today hauled in an average 3.87 million total viewers and GMA nabbed just over 3.82 million. The shows are overall losing viewers — the same week in 2018, Today had 4 million viewers and GMA had 3.89 million — nevertheless ad sales on the three broadcast network morning shows are up 3 percent since 2017, jumping from $1.09 billion in 2017 to $1.13 billion this year. The fight for viewers is so vicious because those morning shows are, along with live sports, one of the last remaining bulwarks of reliable tune-in for the television networks in a world increasingly turning to streaming.

Brian Steinberg, Variety

Pivot to Video

Netflix long reigned as the largest consumer of bandwidth on internet networks, but a hoard of browser-based challengers has dispatched that title. Web-based media steaming apps now surpass Netflix in terms of traffic domination. HTTP media represents 12.8 percent of all downstream internet traffic worldwide, beating Netflix’s 12.6 percent. In the Americas, Netflix is already down to third place, with HTTP internet video accounting for 17.3 percent of traffic, internet-delivered streaming television accounting for 15 percent, Netflix scooping up 12.9 percent and YouTube holding down 6.3 percent. All told, globally video takes up 60.6 percent of all downstream traffic volume on the internet, followed by web traffic (13.1 percent), gaming (8 percent), social media (6.1 percent) and file sharing (4.1 percent). The internet really was just cat videos the entire time, everything else was just dressing it up for the investors.

Todd Spangler, Variety

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