Numlock News: November 4, 2020 • Baseball, Chicken, Games
By Walt Hickey
The results are in, the numbers have been tallied, and we have a winner: “Baby Shark” has defeated the music video for “Despacito” to become the most-watched YouTube video ever, a massive finish to a close race people have been eyeing voraciously for months. “Baby Shark” has now been played 7.042 billion times, receiving a significant boost from kids being stuck at home globally and in need of entertainment. This is the equivalent of 30,187 years of streamed video.
The number of Americans employed in the renewables sector is higher than the number employed in the fossil fuels sector in the Unites States. From 2016 to 2019, renewables added double the jobs that oil and gas did, a further 207,000 employees compared to the 98,000 in fossil fuels. In 2019, 3.36 million people worked in the renewables space compared to 1.19 million in fossil fuels. There are just eight states where fossil fuel employment outpaces renewables employment — including Texas, Alaska, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Wyoming — though both types of energy production took a serious ding in the pandemic.
Baseball was weird this year for a couple of reasons, but one significant shift in the contours of the sport came in the postseason when Major League Baseball expanded the playoffs from 10 to 16 teams. This came with significant financial rewards — television revenue increased from $780 million to $1 billion after selling the eight new games to ESPN and Turner Sports — and post-pandemic those extra tickets and game day revenue will be even more significant. The risk, naturally, was alienating the fan base, a group of people defined in many ways by their love of anachronistic tradition and resistance to any material changes to the game. Turns out they’re coming on to it: a new survey found that a third of MLB fans didn’t care about the playoffs — makes sense, I guess the Mets have a lot of fans — 28 percent wanted a return to the ten-team format, 26 percent wanted to keep it at 16 teams, and 10 percent wanted something in between.
Wingstop, which sells lots of chicken wings, has had to diversify their offerings because the prices of wings have gone up significantly. The price of a pound of wings since the early 2010s kind of looks like a Flappy Bird flight path, costing 80 cents per pound as recently as 2011, then popping north of $2 in early 2013, then back down to about $1.20 by 2014, then up and down and up and down. Anyway, this is why the R&D departments of restaurants came up with the abominable “boneless wings” fiction, which we all know are just chopped up chicken tenders and lack the fatty, flavorful palate of a proper drum and flat. Right now the price of a pound of wings is going for $2.30, and that’s forcing Wingstop to once again return to the drawing board and trial out things like chicken thighs on the menu until the wing price gets reasonable again.
The latest trend in air travel is buy-one-get-one deals offered by airlines desperate to get people back on planes. Prices for plane tickets cratered in March — down 31.6 percent compared to March 2019 — and have not rebounded since, with October seeing ticket prices down 33.7 percent compared to the same month of 2019. Some flights for the typically busy holiday season are at rock-bottom pricing as many pursue a smaller, more intimate Christmas, and flights to vacation destinations are low: a round trip from Chicago to Vegas, normally $350, is going for $81.
Many companies are trying to get a vaccine out quickly, but that comes paired with a thorny bit of statistics that has many producers fretting. Basically, in order to prove that they’re effective enough to get the FDA emergency use authorization, candidates need to not only be protective, but also get pretty lucky. Vaccine trials entail some people getting a vaccine and some getting a placebo, then data about how many people got sick is checked on a schedule, and to get the FDA authorization they have to show evidence it protects at least 50 percent of those inoculated. In the early months of returns — when they first look at the data — they have to set the bar higher, to 75 percent, because of other confounding variables that make the vaccines have a higher chance of looking good even when they’re truly not. This means that even one extra case among the vaccinated people can swing early numbers. Moderna said that even if the vaccine is eventually proven to protect 75 percent of those inoculated, after it takes its first look after 53 cases there’s just a 50-50 shot the initial look is correct. Pfizer is looking after just 32 confirmed cases, which is even riskier.
Spending on video games has broken records, with 244 million people in the U.S. playing video games per a survey in May, up 15 percent from 2018. Americans spent 14 hours per week gaming, up from 12 hours per week in 2018, and the high sales are still up even if the spike in spending seen in April has in some ways diminished. In September total sales were still up 10 percent year-over-year, and global consumer spending on game software is projected to hit $175 billion this year, up from the $159 billion projected at the start of the year.
Thanks to the paid subscribers to Numlock News who make this possible. Subscribers guarantee this stays ad-free, and get a special Sunday edition. Consider becoming a full subscriber today.
The very best way to reach new readers is word of mouth. If you click THIS LINK in your inbox, it’ll create an easy-to-send pre-written email you can just fire off to some friends. Go to swag.numlock.news to claim some free merch when you invite someone.
2020 Sunday subscriber editions: The Mouse · Subprime Attention Crisis · Factory Farms · Streaming Summer · Dynamite · One Billion Americans · Defector · Seams of the Grid · Bodies of Work · Working in Public · Rest of World ·