Numlock News: September 26, 2019 • Abominable, McDonald's, Polypropylene
By Walt Hickey
Just when you thought that any company that could already have possibly announced a pay-per-month subscription-based streaming network had done so already, The Food Network delivered. At a recent Amazon event, Discovery announced a Food Network Kitchen streaming platform for $7 per month, which will offer recipes, shows and live cooking lessons, specifically 25 live classes each week. It’s a direct-to-consumer shot across the bow for cookbook apps, food blogs, and successful recipe websites with incidental news operations, such as The New York Times.
Annually over 25 million tons of plastic end up in landfills each year in the U.S., and a root cause of this is some stuff is just too gross to be recycled. Specifically polypropylene, a rigid plastic that is used for things like deodorant containers, shampoo bottles, yogurt or even gasoline. Polypropylene carries — not to get too technical here — that rowdy stank with it into its next life, and as a result only 3 percent is recycled, compared to 29 percent of polyethylene terephthalate soda bottles. Plus, the bottles emerge in unsellable grays and blacks rather than workable clear or white, which is useless for consumer good companies like P&G. But in fairly colossal news, a new process licensed by that consumer goods conglomerate can purify the polypropylene plastic at a molecular level, and produce clear, odorless recycled pellets for a seventh of the energy of producing virgin polypropylene. A plant in Ohio capable of processing 119 million pounds of such plastic waste a year is already inking deals with consumer good heavyweights.
Ai Ai Ai, Oh
Billy Joel is the sixth-best selling artist of all time, with more than 84.5 million units sold, and so some suit realized that it’s now time for a Billy Joel Cinematic Universe. Seeing the success of artist-based films on the discographies of Queen, Elton John and, uh, Spinal Tap, MGM Television aims to produce a scripted anthology series titled Scenes from an Italian Restaurant about various characters from Joel’s repertoire, because the harbinger of peak TV was always a 45-minute bottle episode about a real-estate novelist who never had time for a wife. Right now, the program is in development ahead of being shopped to networks, who have presumably not yet pounced due to the lack of the phrase “Downeaster Alexa” in the logline. Early reports indicate that Virginia is deciding whether she truly would rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints, and if the sinners indeed had more fun, if this is the wages of sin.
Lesley Goldberg, The Hollywood Reporter
The FTC is suing Match Group over allegations that the company — which operates a number of dating websites — used advertisements featuring fake love interests to get users to sign up for subscriptions to Match.com. The FTC alleges that Match found 500,000 subscriptions purchased within 24 hours of getting a fraudulent ad from June 2016 to May 2018. That was when Match discontinued the practice of emailing non-subscribers that someone had expressed interest in them, when that someone was in fact a bot. Match disputes that characterization, and turned down an offer last November to settle the claims for $60 million. Technically, I would also point out that the government is functionally alleging that thousands of relationships are based on lies. This is a really big deal for online dating: Match owns Tinder, Hinge, OKCupid, PlentyOFish, Meetic, OurTime, Pairs, Blk, Ship, ParPerfito, Chispa, Lexa, Partner.de, BlackPeopleMeet, Amoureux, Neu.de, Uxie, LoveScout24, and Twoo. Also, one of those is not a dating app owned by Match, but rather a later generation Pokemon I threw in there, and it is left as an exercise for the reader to determine which.
Dave Sebastian, The Wall Street Journal
McDonald’s has undergone a considerable renovation over the past several years as the company moves to integrate data and delivery into its offerings. In recent years, the company pushed franchisees to add an Uber Eats counter, touchscreen kiosks, modern furniture and new outlets to charge mobile devices. That hasn’t come cheap, to the tune of $160,000 to $750,000 per restaurant in renovations, a serious hit for franchisees. The results speak for themselves — few companies have outperformed McDonald’s stock since 2015 — even as the company’s overall fast food market share slipped from 15.6 percent in 2013 to 13.7 percent today.
Thomas Buckley and Leslie Patton, Bloomberg
Whales that die and wash up on shore are enormous fonts of information about the health and threats of the broader population, but to find that out you need a pathologist to determine the cause of death. The beachside necropsy of a single beached humpback whale can help determine overall threats to the estimated 20,000 or more North Pacific humpbacks, such as disease or human fixable problems like boat collisions or discarded fishing nets. Behind the scenes there’s also teams of oceanographers, lab technicians and ecologists aggregating this data to help understand marine life and death. Right now, humpbacks are well-fed, but 208 gray whales have turned up emaciated often enough to make researchers fear the 27,000 gray whales in the eastern North Pacific are at maximum population given the state of their food supply.
Do You Want To See A Snowman
Abominable, the new animated movie about a Yeti that I seriously think is the thirdsuch animated feature of the past year, is poised to make something between $17 million and $20 million this weekend at the domestic box office, which will close out a fairly solid September. Were that to hold, it would become the best opening for an original animated film of 2019, as Wonder Park opened to merely $15.8 million. Year to date the box office for 2019 is down about 5 percent, but with Frozen, Joker and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker still in the tank for ‘19, there’s hope yet for a decent finish.
Last week, I had an excellent conversation with Yusra Murad about the troubling polling on Juul, and how they crashed down to have the second-worst reputation of all the companies they survey. We talked about some fascinating polling, and how Juul is in serious danger of surpassing Marlboro as the brand with the worst rep. Yusra can be found at Morning Consult where she writes their healthcare newsletter, and is on Twitter @ymurad__.
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.
Thank you so much for subscribing! If you're enjoying the newsletter, forward it to someone you think may enjoy it too! Send links to me on Twitter at @WaltHickey or email me with numbers, tips, or feedback at email@example.com. Send corrections or typos to the copy desk at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Previous 2019 Sunday special editions: Juul · Chris Ingraham · Invasive Species · The Rat Spill · The Sterling Affairs · Snakebites · Bees · Deep Fakes · Artificial Intelligence · Marijuana · Mussels · 100% Renewable Grid · Drive Thru Dreams · Department Stores & Champion · Baltimore Crab Shacks · Kylie Jenner · Amber Fossils · Self-Improvement ·