Numlock News: June 8, 2022 • Merch, Cricket, Sinking
By Walt Hickey
While many Russian music acts have attempted to distance themselves from the country’s war in Ukraine, a few acts are making big bucks by aligning themselves with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The folk rock band Pelageya got 3 million rubles ($49,000) for playing a set at a patriotic music festival in Stavropol on May 1, an event where Denis Maidanov got 2.5 million rubles to perform. Those rates are considered to be significantly higher than their normal fees, and are only known because they appeared on a government procurement website.
North American orders for Class 8 heavy-duty trucks was 13,300 in May, which was down 43 percent year over year and the lowest number of orders for new big rigs since last November. That’s not for lack of demand: The trucking industry is clogged with backlogs, and manufacturers have been hesitant to add to those queues because parts shortages mean that there’s no guarantee they’d actually manage to deliver those trucks in the back half of the year anyway.
A new study from researchers at Florida Atlantic University and Florida International University finds that there are 15 U.S. cities where the housing market is overvalued by at least 50 percent, with four markets — Boise (72.6 percent overvalued), Austin (67.7 percent overvalued), Ogden (64.7 percent overvalued) and Las Vegas (61.5 percent overvalued) — with homes at least 60 percent overvalued compared to long-term pricing trends. What remains to be seen is if those are significant, permanent shifts in how housing is valued following a pandemic that fundamentally realigned the way many work, or if the city of Vegas is about to roll the dice.
While large American cities had typically been the core constituency for book sales, the rest of the country has begun closing the gap. While sales across the country rose 15 percent from 2019 to 2022, in New York sales growth was only about 1 percent over the same period. Indeed, New York’s overall chunk of the book-buying market dropped from 7 percent in 2019 to 6.1 percent in 2022, and overall the 10 largest book markets saw their share of the book business drop from 34 percent to 31 percent. The cause — migration out of larger metros, an overall increase in reading following the pandemic book-buying surge, and baby boomers in large Northern cities retiring to warm Sun Belt cities — is a little muddled, but the rest of the country is reading more and more following the pandemic.
The humble merch table at the back of the show hawking CDs and maybe a couple of tees has become a major cog in the musical touring industry, with merch sales up and becoming more common. In 2019, 11 percent of fans bought merch at shows according to data from atVenu, a point-of-sale system used at around 125,000 shows last year. In 2021, that figure jumped to 19 percent. Furthermore, average per-attendee merch spending in 500-capacity rooms hit $13.92 last year, double the value seen in 2019.
Researchers measured the subsidence rates — that is, the rate at which a city’s ground level is sinking due to water removal or other factors — in 99 coastal cities, and found that most of those cities are actually sinking faster than sea levels are rising. This means that in many places, the coastal flooding expected by climate change may actually arrive earlier than previously believed because they are sinking lower. The global mean sea level rise is 2 millimeters per year, but in a third of the cities some part was sinking by 10 millimeters per year or more. It’s possible to slow this subsidence — Jakarta got their rate down from 280 millimeters per year down to 35 millimeters per year — but that won’t be enough to save the city.
Disney+ wants to have 230 million to 260 million global subscriptions by September 2024, and a key part of that accounting is that Disney counts Hotstar, a streaming service it owns in India, under that math. Right now, of Disney’s 137.7 million subscribers, 87.6 million subscribe to Disney+ and 50.1 million subscribe to Disney+ Hotstar, and that puts the company in a bit of a pickle. That’s because 36 percent of the number Wall Street cares about comes from Hotstar, and the big draw to Hotstar is that it’s the sole holder to Indian Premiere League rights, the domestic cricket league, the most popular sport in the country and a massive draw to Hotstar. The problem for the Mouse is that those rights are up this year, and they’re going to get pricey. Right now they pay $423.5 million a year for those cricket rights, and the base price for the total 2023–27 package is about to go for $4.24 billion, minimum, or about $847.4 million a year.
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