As a casual sports fan, I periodically check in with myself: Do I enjoy watching live sports enough to pay for cable?
The answer for the last few years has been: No thanks, I’ll just check out these GIFs on Twitter.
ESPN is having the exact opposite problem, as Ira Boudway and Max Chafkin explain in their latest Bloomberg Businessweek cover story. No matter how innovative or cutting-edge the sports giant makes itself, the cable money is just too lucrative, and the costs of licensing live sports are just too great, to finally cut the cord and offer itself as a standalone internet subscription service the way HBO did with HBO NOW. Boudway and Chafkin do the math:
Other media companies, most notably HBO, have confronted cord cutting by offering their programming “over the top,” which is TV-speak for “on the internet.” More than 2 million people pay $15 a month for access to the HBO Now app, but that strategy doesn’t translate to ESPN. The network’s programming costs are far greater than those of HBO—the budget for an entire season of Game of Thrones costs around $100 million, or less than what ESPN pays for the rights to air a single Monday Night Football game—and ESPN’s customers are accustomed to getting the network at no additional charge as part of their cable package. If ESPN were to charge $15 a month for a standalone streaming channel, it would need more than 43 million subscribers to match the money it collects from cable carriers. HBO has about 35 million total subscribers in the U.S., including cable and over the top.
Now, I’m obviously just one person, but I’m pretty sure I would subscribe to a service that just offers an endless loop of Ezra Edelman’s O.J.: Made in America.Just a thought for the folks over in Bristol.
Moonlight‘s surprise win on Sunday night was a shared-stage moment, a tantalizing suggestion that we were perhaps living in an alternate timeline. “Did the Oscars just prove that we are living in a computer simulation?” asks Adam Gopnik at TheNew Yorker, only half as a joke. “Since the advance of intelligence seems like the one constant among living things—and since living things are far likelier than not to be spread around the universe—then one of the things that smart living things will do is make simulations of other universes in which to run experiments.” Read more…
The reason the U.S. is a good place to do business is that, for the past two centuries, it’s built a firm foundation on the rule of law. President Trump almost undid that in a weekend. That’s bad for business.
The subtle and deadly change of heart that might occur in you would be involved with the realization that a civilization is not destroyed by wicked people; it is not necessary that people be wicked but only that they be spineless.
The staff and I arrived at the office on the morning of November 9, the day after the election, knowing we needed to respond—we were wrapping up the January issue at the time and heading into the February production cycle. With the support and encouragement of our cofounder and CEO, Nicole Vogel, we dropped a feature (to be printed later) and set to work: Over the next three weeks we reported on how our city and our region was responding to the election of Donald Trump—and on how our readers could help make a positive difference. The result: “Hope and Resistance in Seattle,” addresses everything from Seattle’s involvement in Japanese internment during WWII to our more recent designation as a sanctuary city. The cover, we knew, had to rise to the occasion. We wanted language that stated our stance definitively and an image that reclaimed our shared American values. That Trump signed the executive order regarding sanctuary cities on the exact same same day our February issue dropped was a coincidence. But I’m glad our seemingly prescient cover, designed by art director Jane Sherman, is out there right now in response.
Above is the cover of next week’s New Yorker, by Eric Drooker. In an interview about the work, Drooker says: “The police shooting of Michael Brown resonates on a personal level with me. An artist friend of mine was killed by a cop in lower Manhattan, back in 1991. He happened to be black, and the police officer was never indicted.”