Numlock News: July 14, 2023 • Albania, Beavers, Crunchyroll
By Walt Hickey
Have a great weekend!
Earlier this week the Today Show broadcast a segment about a so-called boat jumping TikTok challenge which, by all available evidence, does not and never has existed in any meaningful manner. Prior to air, not a single boat jumping video had gone viral on TikTok, and it appears to be a series of misunderstandings related to an Alabama law enforcement agency baselessly linking recent drownings in the state to TikTok. Indeed, prior to the media cycle there were less than five searches a day for “boat jumping” on TikTok globally, but naturally since the Today Show parachuted in searches are up 35,900 percent.
Beavers have substantial impacts on their ecosystems through dam construction, and during heat waves their industriousness really pays off. The dams form ponds and widen rivers, expanding aquatic habitats and cooling down the water by deepening streams and forcing cold groundwater to the surface. The upshot is that one recent study that relocated 69 beavers to a river basin found their dams cooled streams by 2.3 Celsius at various times over the year, corroborating earlier studies that found the temperature cooling in the vicinity of those dams. That water also cools the land around it, so it’s a pretty big win all around. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to release 200 beavers in the middle of Queens, because this has been a rough week.
Sony’s Crunchyroll streaming service is the top anime dealer in the world at a time when it’s never been more popular, and a bullish expansion into India has the streaming service set to be one of the single most successful streaming services the world over, period. Goldman Sachs projects that within five years, Crunchyroll will be responsible for 36 percent of all profit for the entire Sony Pictures segment. As of the year ending in March, that was less than 1 percent. The service — which currently has 100 million members, 11 million of whom pay for it — projects that outside of Japan and China there will be over 800 million anime fans by 2025, and there is so little formal competition in the anime distribution space that Crunchyroll’s only real rival is essentially the vast number of people who merely pirate anime.
People who have turtles and tortoises as pets are coming around to the idea that they need a long-term plan for the beasts, as they very commonly outlive even the most superannuated among us humans. A desert tortoise can live to over 80, an African spurred tortoise might make it to 150, and a Seychelle giant tortoise might hit 190, so any pet care accounts better be interest-bearing. As of 2018, 11 percent of turtle and tortoise owners had a will that left money specifically to the care of their pets, a figure that in 2022 is now up to 18 percent. About half have named a specific mammalian successor to care for the reptiles, which are basically the closest we’re gonna get to having elves for friends.
Europe’s newest vacation hotspot is Albania, which is expecting 10 million tourists this year. It’s got perks: It’s budget-friendly — averaging €59.4 ($66.48) a night in rentals — it’s got a long coastline, lots of scenic mountains and lakes, and a travel sector that’s heating up. While lots of that growth has been from Eastern Europeans, since 2022, travel to Albania from Spain is up 57 percent, up 23 percent from Belgium and up 36 percent from the Netherlands, and the number of short-term rentals in the country jumped from 4,663 in January of 2019 to 13,770 this past May, with demand for stays up 543 percent.
Regional Mexican music is a broad category of music that encompasses multiple subgenres of Latin music, including mariachi, corridos, norteño and banda. While it’s historically been pretty regional, consumption is exploding in the United States right now, with listening up 42.1 percent year to date. That kind of growth is behind only K-pop, which is up 49.4 percent over the same period. Over the past five years, it’s up 400 percent globally and up 212 percent in the United States, and it’s led by artists like Peso Pluma, a 24-year-old phenomenon who has seen daily listeners explode 4,341 percent between June 2022 and 2023.
Under a new Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Program, for the year 2026 the government will select 10 drugs from the top Medicare Part D drugs for negotiation. Even though 10 drugs might not seem like much, the most popular drugs in America account for a vastly disproportionate percentage of the $216 billion that Part D spent on 3,500 different prescription drug products in 2021. The top 100 drugs are just 3 percent of covered prescriptions but account for 61 percent of total spending; the top 10 sellers accounted for fully 0.3 percent of all covered drugs, but accounted for 22 percent of gross Medicare drug spending, or $47.7 billion. The ability to negotiate over $47.7 billion ain’t nothing.
This week in the Sunday edition I was joined by Eben Novy-Williams of the site Sportico, who wrote the story “Fanatics to Buy PointsBet’s U.S. Arm for $150M, to Boost Betting Push” and then a few weeks later followed it up with “Fanatics Raises PointsBet Offer to $225 Million as DraftKings Steps Aside.” We talked why Fanatics has exploded to become such a massive, powerful force in just a few years, how gambling factors into this, and the brewing rivalry that could come to define the sports industry. Eben can be found at Sportico and at the podcast the Sporticast.
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