Disney furloughing thousands of employees

Julia Boorstin in her article for CNBC covered the recent furloughing of at least 43,000 workers, mostly in the theme park division of the company.  Many estimates place the number closer to 100,000 workers which means a substantial number of the company’s employees will be without pay for an extensive amount of time.  Disney is now facing strong criticism as their contemporaries which include NBCUniversal and AT&T’s WarnerMedia have yet to furlough or even lay off any of their employees.  The article points out that more then one-third of the company’s revenue alone comes its parks and resorts.  This contrasts Disney’s competition which has a far less substantial stake in the theme park business.  NBCUniversal for example only accounts five percent of the company’s revenue as coming from its theme parks.  Despite this, the article makes evident that Disney’s market capitalization is $185 billion which puts the company in the position of appearing greedy and out of touch with the needs of their army of workers.  With their theme parks not opening potentially until next year, this move will obviously have a detrimental affect on the tens of thousands of employees who rely on the company to make ends meet. 

I found this article to be compelling for its analytical breakdown in terms of hard statistics regarding why Disney made the decision to furlough a significant portion of its workers.  Its unfortunate to say the least that the company was not able to work out some form of compensation for their dedicated employees who in their time of need are being left by the wayside. 



Lawmakers introduce bill to put security warnings on apps such as TikTok

In his article for The Hill, Chris Mills Rodrigo covered the recent bill introduced by GOP lawmakers which would make it mandatory for apps considered to be national security threats to place warnings in their user interface.  Specifically, apps like TikTok and FaceApp that are linked to China and Russia respectively, would be forced to warn users of the dangers of using said applications inside the United States.  Representative Jim Banks stated that “some phone apps are fun and useful, others are counterintelligence threats”.  He went on to say “Americans should know which is which before they hit the download button. Parents and consumers have a right to a warning that by downloading some apps like Russia’s FaceApp or China’s TikTok, their data may be used against the United States by an adversarial or enemy regime.”  Countries including Venezuela, Syria, Sudan, Iran, and North Korea would also be forced to include warnings on their published applications.  TikTok has responded to the bills introduction by stating “While we think the concerns about TikTok are unfounded, we understand them and are continuing to further strengthen our safeguards while increasing our dialogue with lawmakers to help explain our policies”. 

 I found this article to be particularly interesting as it demonstrated the growing concern among lawmakers in the United States about apps developed by nations considered to be adversarial to the interests of this country.  As apps such as TikTok have exploded in popularity over the past year, calls for regulation of some kind have increased substantially as the reality of American data being used by rival nations increases in likelihood.


Netflix sees major boost in subscriptions

In an article for BBC, streaming giant Netflix recently announced to shareholders that the company saw a massive boost in subscriptions as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown currently affecting nearly every stretch of the globe.  The company stated that they brought in sixteen million new subscriptions in the first three months of 2020, an impressive number by all estimates.  Last year during the same period the streaming service saw roughly half of the number of new subscriptions they are seeing now.  Not only that, but the company has seen their stock price gain thirty percent in value in this year alone.  Obviously with people stuck inside constantly the demand for in home entertainment has gone up considerably as a result.  Netflix also has the benefit of a strong list of content and trendy shows like Tiger King which have surely helped to bolster intertest in the platform.  Interestingly, the article stated that the highest growth for the company in this quarter was seen in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. 

This article was interesting in that it highlighted an example of a company that is flourishing as a result of the pandemic currently uplifting nearly every aspect of normalcy around the globe.  However, the article did point out that with production on hold for nearly every studio, it remains to be seen if the delay in new content will have a negative effect on the streaming services momentum once the lockdowns are eventually lifted.  It will also be interesting to see how the other major players in the streaming wars fare as a result of the pandemic. 


Coronavirus Sees Ratings Gain For Tv Networks

The pandemic currently sweeping the globe has ironically had some positive effects on television networks struggling to retain relevancy.  Adam Epstein in his article for Quartz covered the massive ratings gain seen by all four major television networks including NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox.  It was reported that around thirty-two million Americans watched the evening news in the last week; the largest ratings numbers seen in decades.  The surge is so impressive that ratings for networks are up forty-two percent compared to the same period last year.  The global pandemic is also benefiting shows like American Idol and Ellen’s new show called Game of Games which both saw massive increases in viewership over the last few weeks.  Interestingly, viewership among the 18-49 age demographic is also up five percent compared to last year which shows that older viewers are not the only ones partially responsible for the ratings boost.  However, it should be noted that these numbers are almost certainly temporary as millions of Americans remain home due to social distancing mandates; and numbers for streaming services likely dwarf those seen by networks. 

I found this article to be incredibly insightful in regard to how the COVID-19 crisis is affecting all aspects of life and business in this country and around the world.  While obviously this event is a largely negative one with thousands of people losing their lives, it does not go without its silver linings such as this story.  It will be interesting to see if after the stay at home orders go away network ratings immediately slip back to mediocrity where they previously were. 


AT&T President: Consumer Behavior Will Be Fundamentally Changed

The president of AT&T John Stankey stated that as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic consumer behavior will be permanently altered.  In his article for CNBC, Kevin Stankiewicz reports that the far-reaching consequences of the pandemic have yet to be fully understood and consumer behavior will inevitably shift as a result according to Stankey.  He also made it clear that these impacts will not just affect companies like AT&T but also nearly every player in the business landscape.  Stankey argued that these unprecedented last few weeks have shown the incredible value of connectivity and the important role it will continue to play in consumers lives going forward.  Services like Zoom, despite coming under fire for privacy issues recently, have demonstrated that technology has the potential to give our lives a sense of business as usual and normalcy despite the circumstances.  Stankey in the same interview also pointed out  that this health crisis has further shown consumers seemingly insatiable desire for more content and stories to engage with.  He states that this will impact the entertainment industry in unforeseen ways in the coming months and years. 

This article for me was eye opening in that it helped me to put in perspective how far reaching the consequences of this pandemic will be in the future.  Nearly every aspect of life has been changed in some way as a result of the virus sweeping across the globe.  It will be interesting to see in the coming weeks as life slowly returns to normal what aspects of life will be changed as a result of COVID-19. 


Local News Face Collapse due to COVID-19

In their article for The New York Times, Tiffany Hsu and Marc Tracy cover the coronavirus global pandemic and the effect the stay at home orders are having on local newspapers across the country.  COVID-19, the virus that originated in Wuhan, China and has now swept across the globe is having devastating consequences on local economies which includes daily papers struggling to hang on.  One example of this that the article covers is in St. Louis Missouri where a paper known as the Riverfront Times tries to cope with the global health crisis.  The already struggling paper apparently knew they were in dire trouble when the local restaurants that provide the organization with advertising revenue began shutting down as a result of government containment efforts.  The loss of local events that provide sponsorship money for small papers such as the Riverfront Times have decimated these small businesses revenue streams and threaten to end their publications once and for all.  With lay offs across many of these local publications, newspaper owners are looking for creative ways to help stimulate life into their businesses. 

While I find this news to be incredibly sad and disheartening to learn how far reaching the COVID 19 virus’s affects are on our economy, I am not at all surprised.  With digital news completely overtaking print media in recent years, small newspapers have been playing catch up to try and remain relevant for years now.  All it took was one massive and unpredictable financial downturn to serve as the final nail in the coffin for many of these small businesses. 

NBA Season Cancellation Spells Trouble for Networks

In his article for ‘CNN Business’, Frank Pallotta covers the recent announcement that the NBA will be suspending games this season due to the coronavirus outbreak.  The news comes after an unnamed player tested positive for the virus ultimately resulting in the leagues temporary hiatus.  Pallotta in his analysis makes evident the huge blow this will result in regarding television partners and networks who heavily rely on sports ratings for advertising revenue.  NBA viewership is especially crucial for many networks as the league still manages to bring in solid ratings across the board.  With audiences jumping ship from cable to streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, this news will be an especially hard pill to swallow for television networks.  Another factor in this debacle is what will happen to advertising revenue that has already been booked? Will the networks be required to give the money back?  Some analysts have placed the estimates of lost advertising revenue for individual networks to be in the ballpark of 75 to 100 million dollars.  The NBA is not the only league who has suspended their season; with the NHL and Major League Soccer also cancelling games as a result of the pandemic. 

This article for me put into perspective how far reaching and impactful the coronavirus has been globally.  No avenue of business or entertainment will remain unaffected by the virus quarantine currently underway; the likes of which have not been seen in modern times.  In regard to this article and the implications of the NBA season being cancelled; it will be interesting if the playoff games in April will commence and potentially help alleviate some of the lost revenue woes networks are currently dealing with. 


‘No Time to Die’ Delayed Due to Coronavirus Outbreak.

‘No Time to Die’’, the latest installment in the highly lucrative James Bond film franchise, has been delayed until November of 2020 due to the global coronavirus outbreak.  Originally set to be released in April of this year, MGM reportedly further delayed the film due to the potential risk of box office failure in conjunction with keeping moviegoers safe from increased exposure to the novel virus.  In his article for CNN, Frank Pallotta argues that while this is the first major film studio to delay one of their features due to the outbreak, it will most likely not be the last.  While most major studios currently are maintaining their films slated release dates, this could obviously be subject to change if the pandemic is not contained on a much broader scale in the coming weeks and months.  While movie chains remain open across the United States, theaters in much of Asia, specifically in China, which is the second largest market for movies in the world, have closed down in order to contain the outbreak.  Upcoming films such as the latest installment in the ‘Fast and the Furious’ franchise and ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ are highly reliant on international box office success and their release dates will likely be altered as well if sweeping containment of the virus is not successful on a global scale.  

The global containment efforts to contain this outbreak, the likes of which have not been seen in modern times, obviously have huge implications for the entertainment industry.  It will be interesting to see in the coming weeks if the disease is managed enough to where restrictions can be lifted or if other major film releases will be forced to be delayed as well.  Another aspect of these delays that remains to be seen is if these movies projected box office numbers will remain consistent with their altered release dates or if they will suffer financial loses ultimately.


Facebook Contemplating Transparency on Platform

In an article for CNBC, Julia Boorstin covers the most recent development in FaceBook’s ongoing transparaceny debacle that this time involves Presidential hopeful Mike Bloomberg.  Facebook is apparently concerned about the lack of transparency regarding Bloomberg’s campaign in regards to campaign staffers and activists using the platform to garner support for the former New York Mayor’s Presidential campaign.  Currently, posts advocating for Bloomberg’s campaign don’t specifically indicate that these endorsements are in fact created by paid campaign staffers and supporters. According to the article, Facebook is in the process of considering necessary steps to increase transparency and make these campaign posts more obvious in their partiality.  In recent months, the social media juggernaut has been progressively taking steps to gain users trust through increased transparency regarding campaign advertisements as a result of the Cambridge Analytical debacle the company faced in early 2018. That particular scandal arose after it was reported that the company had unethically gathered user data to target political ads supporting Donald Trump for President in 2016.  Since then Facebook has instituted new policies such as flagging political ads and launching a database that reports ad purchases in relation to politics and special interests. 

I find it interesting that Facebook is now reactively making transparency regarding advertisements on its platform a priority after years of ignoring the issue altogether.  The mounting distrust and negative press the site has received in recent years has obviously had some kind of effect on the company’s standards in relation to transparency on the platform.  It remains to be seen however if the company can rebound from the awful public relations issues the site has been facing in recent times and potentially gain consumer trust. 


Redbox Enters the Streaming Market

Redbox recently kicked off their brand new online streaming service this past month, joining an ever growing list of competing services in the market.  The article by Eli Blumenthal on Cnet dives into the rental chains latest endeavor called ‘Free Live TV’ which offers consumers as the name suggests, complimentary access to television shows and certain movies.  The article compared the new service to Amazon’s ‘IMDb TV’ which similarly offers free advertisement based content in favor of a traditional subscriptions model. The service comes after years of decline in the popularity of the companies traditional disk based rental service that are common among grocery stores and shopping malls.  The article makes a point of mentioning the serious lack of content currently offered on the platform which may explain why the service does not require users to make an account to access shows and movies.  

At the time of this article, the service is only accessible to limited test markets and the company has stated that the platform will be going live nationally soon.  The service has publicized its partnerships with channels such as ‘USA Today’ and ‘TMZ’. I find it odd that Redbox has launched their new service early in select markets despite the serious lack of content currently found on the platform; resulting in what appears to be rather lukewarm reception by users.  With the market already flooded with streaming services and showing no signs of slowing down, it’s interesting that Redbox has decided to throw their hat in the ring with almost nothing to differentiate their product from the rest. Perhaps there will be a market for a service like this as it is completely free at the moment which may entice people searching for streaming option that doesn’t require a subscription like Netflix and Disney Plus.