Numlock News: October 11, 2022 • Picasso, Bestsellers, Bundles
By Walt Hickey
The bundle is back, as streaming services forge alliances to make their direct-to-consumer offerings a little more palatable to consumers. Disney’s got their Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ deal, Paramount+ has got their alliance with Showtime and also one with Walmart, Warner Bros. has quickly put together a shotgun marriage of Discovery+ and HBO Max, and Amazon is reportedly kicking everyone’s tires on clustering streaming services through Prime Video. Right now, consumers are spending an average of $219 a month on subscriptions, and as the large players seek to manage churn the old ways of Cable are coming back.
Rokit, a company specializing in mobile phones and alcohol, went on a spending spree in the athletics sponsorship space. This included a $60 million 10-year sponsorship of the Las Vegas Raiders that made them the official phone of the franchise and got them naming rights to the club inside their stadium, a $40 million four-year deal with the Houston Rockets, a $3.22 million two-year deal with the Chargers and an $81.84 million five-year deal with Williams Racing, a Formula 1 team. The issue? Seems like the money ran out, and Rokit’s companies have been hit with a wave of bankruptcies as they owe sports teams a ton of money, according to court documents. That includes unsecured claims of $1.97 million owed to the Raiders, $11.23 million to the Rockets, £7 million to Manchester United and £14.5 million to Williams.
A court in the Netherlands has fined a Florida-based software company €75,000 ($73,000) in compensation and fees after they fired a Netherlands-based worker who balked at the monitoring the company was doing to its employees. The worker refused to keep their webcam on all day, considering it an invasion of privacy, while the company countered that attitude was insubordination. The court found in favor of the worker.
The top author in America right now is Colleen Hoover, who now holds six of 10 spots on the paperback fiction bestseller list after moving 8.6 million print books this year. With a ravenous fan base and an enduring appeal — many of her bestselling books in 2022 came out years ago — she’s a major anomaly in the book market despite not having a specific genre to call home. The bestselling of the bestsellers is It Ends With Us, a drama about a florist and a neurosurgeon which came out six years ago and has sold 4 million copies.
A gallery owner and her husband are on trial in Paris regarding their link to a scheme where at least 553 drawings and original prints by Pablo Picasso were stolen from the heirs of Jacqueline Picasso and an art dealer. The thefts occurred from 2006 to 2008, with a handyman accused of actually doing the theft. The heist was first discovered in 2011, when four drawings were brought to the Picasso estate for authentication, after which the handyman confessed but was released because of the statute of limitation. He said he sold the Picassos to a middle man, who in turn sold them to the gallery owner, who denies wrongdoing. There were 56 works recovered from their gallery and apartments.
China’s Guangdong province has approved the construction of six new coal-fired power plants in the past month, with a capacity of 9.7 million kilowatts. This kind of new coal construction didn’t appear to be possible given the emissions targets China set, indicating a reversal on environmental policies. Since mid-July, there have been 17 million kilowatts of new coal projects greenlit across China, which has provoked debate in the country. The main motivation is the power shortages that have hit the country, but even the power producers are a little worried these new coal plants will have a short operating life in case the mood changes. A decade ago, 66.9 percent of China’s power came from coal, which has since fallen to 46.7 percent as of 2021. At the same time, renewable energy rose to 44.8 percent of total capacity.
Heat pumps are around 4.5 times as efficient as using gas to heat a building, and have made significant strides over the past two decades. They’re effectively a two-way air conditioner, and about 10 percent of households in the United States use them as their main source of heating as of 2015. They’re increasingly seen as one of the most effective ways for a single home to cut its energy consumption and save a pretty good amount of money on the way, but the issue is they’re still a bit niche and finding an HVAC company with the expertise to install them is more difficult than more common gas-based heating. There are about to be thousands of dollars in rebates made available to people who get heat pumps as part of this summer’s Inflation Reduction Act, and another $200 million for training programs for contractors on how to install them, so that niche reputation is poised to change.
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