Numlock News: December 2, 2022 • Seals, Coyotes, Railroads
By Walt Hickey
New York area readers: I’m hosting a show at Caveat in NYC on December 15th. It’s a live play of the TTRPG game I designed for Insider’s “Red, White and Gray” project and it should be a ton of fun. We’ve got some excellent guests lined up; buy tickets here, I would love to see you there!
Have a great weekend!
Freeplay Music operates in a niche segment of the music business that licenses production music for cable news and other telecasts, and is alleging that CNN played 115 of their songs across 283 different segments on CNN Philippines, CNN Indonesia and CNN Chile. Naturally, because this is the music business we’re talking about, they’re suing for $17 million in damages. It’s just one of several recent cases filed by the company, one of the most recent of which was against Ford over 54 songs in online videos.
The NHL’s Arizona Coyotes were kicked out of their arena in Glendale and since have played their home games at Mullett Arena, which is predominantly Arizona State University’s home turf. The 4,600 capacity is less than a third of the next-smallest capacity in the NHL, and though it was originally planned to be a mere stopgap home for the Coyotes, they will in fact be here for three years and possibly a fourth. It’s not ideal: ASU has dibs on dates, and the fate of the Coyotes will now be in the hands of voters. Ownership wants to turn a landfill full of 1.5 million tons of trash into Tempe Entertainment District, a $2.1 billion development. The main impediment this season for the Coyotes — besides a tepid offense, of course — is that the city would spend $200 million to relocate the trash and likely something around half a billion after factoring in incentives, and voters get a chance to reject that on May 16.
Bottled water is the largest beverage category by volume in the United States, moving 15.7 billion gallons last year, up 4.7 percent from 2020. That year each American drank an average of 47 gallons of bottled water over the year, which is a symptom of people moving away from sugary beverages. This year, the bottled water market is projected to hit $39 billion. That’s the kind of number that would attract a lot of disruptors and startups in your typical food or beverage sector, but given the domination of the biggies in this territory it’s particularly hard to make inroads in the water category.
Yesterday the Senate voted 80-15 to force a deal between the six largest national freight railroads and 12 unions that were careening towards a strike on December 9. Just eight of the 12 unions approved the measure, the rest rejecting it, with the one paid personal day and no new dedicated days off for sickness raising particular ire. Most significantly, the Senate failed to pass a separate measure that would have given those worker seven days of paid sick days per year, with the 52-43 vote falling short of the 60 votes it would need to pass. The operators contend that the employees can take sick time off work using vacation days instead.
The U.S. is moving on to the round of 16 in the World Cup, and it’s got Americans positively thrilled about 2026, when the U.S. — along with Canada and Mexico — will be hosting the World Cup. Also, just kidding, Americans have absolutely no idea that is happening. When asked how much they had seen, read or heard about North America hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup, 65 percent of U.S. adults said they had not heard anything at all about this massive development, and another 15 percent had heard not too much about it.
Volleyball is getting more and more popular in the United States, particularly women’s collegiate volleyball. When the Wisconsin Badgers played the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the national championship, they drew 1.19 million viewers on ESPN2, which was double the title game from before the pandemic. Last Friday’s rematch hauled in 587,000 viewers, up 54 percent over the previous most-watched volleyball game in the 15-year history of the Big Ten Network. Women’s volleyball at the high school level is up 8.4 percent since 2012, and is now the second-most popular sport just behind track and field. No fewer than four professional volleyball leagues have cropped up — Athletes Unlimited, Pro Volleyball Federation, League One Volleyball and the Volleyball League of America — to cash in on the trend.
The good news is that Antarctic fur seals are on the rebound, booming even, despite flirting with annihilation in the early 20th century. For instance, in 1977 there were just 1,600 seals on Signy Island, which by the 1990s had rebounded to over 20,000 seals. It’s a colossal success, but comes with a caveat: The recovery is so successful that the seals are now actually expanding beyond their historical range, at times trampling on the fragile vegetation of the Antarctic continent.
This week in the Sunday edition, I spoke to Julia Alexander, the streaming expert that writes a column over at Puck News called What I’m Hearing+ and is the director of strategy at Parrot Analytics. Disney had some massive changes at the executive level and I really wanted to hear from her about Bob v. Bob, Avatar, how movie distributors accidentally trained audiences over the course of the pandemic, and what’s next for the Mouse.
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