Numlock News: November 28, 2023 • Sloths, Jazz, Serbia
By Walt Hickey
You Are What You Watch is going to be part of the big holiday promotional push from the publisher. Today, Numlock readers get a special discount for one final day, 25 percent off right now and shipping is free with the code CYBERNUMLOCK on the Hachette website.
The NBA’s Utah Jazz are embarking on an experiment that will be closely watched by teams around the country across most major sports leagues, particularly other smaller-market teams in the NBA, MLB and NHL. Essentially, the era of the regional sports network, or RSN, appears to be ending, and with it the tens of millions of dollars that teams got in exchange for the local regional broadcast rights to their games. The Jazz lost their RSN earlier this year when that company went under, and with it the $25 million per year. This led the Jazz to broadcast games on a paid streaming service called Jazz+ (at $15.50 per month) and a free-to-air station called KJZZ, which I can only assume was the last available television network callsign available. It’s estimated that the combination will bring 50 percent to 70 percent of the revenue of the original RSN, and if the Jazz’s attempt to own their own local distribution pans out over the coming years, it could point the way for teams in a post-RSN era.
Across the Furious Sea
The top-grossing movie at the Chinese box office right now is the crime thriller Across the Furious Sea with $24.7 million over two days. It’s the third in a loose trilogy of movies from director Cao Baoping. Well, sort of: In 2015, Cao released Dead End, a crime drama that made $47.6 million and was a modest hit. That was followed up by The Perfect Blue, which finished shooting in 2018, but which was never actually released to the public because its star, Fan Bingbing, got pinched for tax evasion and was banned from movies. The movie never saw a release in China. Cao’s latest, Across the Furious Sea, wrapped shooting in 2020, and only just got released.
A tourist attraction in Texas that has failed to get enough foot traffic to stay in business long-term will be moved from Houston to Galveston, the state decided. Right now the 573-foot Battleship Texas is in the Houston Ship Channel in an industrial area 25 miles east of downtown Houston. As it stands, it’s only attracting 90,000 visitors a year. Ordinarily this would mean it’s probably time to shut down your tourist attraction, but this is also an actual ship, so Texas has put up some money for a restoration and movement to the Port of Galveston, which will lease space for it at a rate of $20,000 per month for at least the next 10 years. That would put breakeven at 283,000 tickets per year, which the state and the foundation that maintains the vessel think is more doable in Galveston than industrial Houston.
All of college sports is paying attention to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, where a class-action case brought by former college athletes on behalf of 14,500 players is suing the NCAA and Power Five conferences for $4 billion. The case argues that the NCAA and the conferences violated antitrust law to deprive athletes of licensing deals, video game revenue and broadcasting revenue. If it’s allowed to proceed, it could force the NCAA to cut a deal to avoid the possibility of a $4 billion verdict that could, essentially, wipe out the organization.
A hotbed of film and television production is now taking place in Serbia, thanks to a remarkably generous tax rebate and a growing roster of local professionals who can work on movies. Back in 2016, Serbia rolled out a 25 percent rebate that rises to 30 percent when the budget for a project goes north of €5 million. It also allowed this tax write-off to be used on television commercials, making it the only country in Europe to do so. Yes, it’s not just late-career Nicolas Cage and Bruce Willis action movie cash-ins anymore; the tax situation has drawn lots of productions to shoot in Serbia, not the least of which included Glass Onion, the Rian Johnson whodunnit that filmed all of its interior shots in there. Employment in film and television is up 39 percent since 2019.
This is my hole! It was made for me!
Brazil is pockmarked with massive tunnels that are thousands of years old that are called paleoburrows. The Americas were home to 100 different species of sloths over the course of millions of years, from 15 million years ago until only around 10,000 years ago. Some of them were giant ground sloths, walking on two legs, and growing up to 4 meters in height. They had to sleep somewhere, so they dug little burrows, except they were the size of a van, so they dug big burrows. In the past 15 years, over 1,500 paleoburrows have been found in southern and southeastern Brazil. It’s unclear why Brazil is lousy with the holes, some of which are over 40 meters deep, one of which is 340 meters long, and others of which contain massive chambers covered in unsettling claw marks. None have been recorded in North America.
In 2022, New Zealand passed a historic and what some called generation ban on tobacco, which would cut the number of stores that could legally sell cigarettes down to 600 shops nationwide, a public health coup that was projected to save $1.3 billion in health care costs over 20 years, cut mortality rates by 22 percent for women and 9 percent for men, and in particular lead to significant public health gains for Māori, who have higher rates of tobacco use. Slated to go into effect in March of 2024, the law will be scrapped and reversed by the incoming government to fund a tax cut instead.
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