January 18, 2023

Today's Topics

Hello! 3 things are dropping today; network TV ratings, Tesla's prices and China's population — today's charts explore:

  • Peak TV: There's more shows than ever, but fewer viewers for network TV.
  • Supply vs. demand: Tesla is dropping prices.
  • China's pop drop: India may already be the world's most populous nation.
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Peak “Peak TV”

We’re still living in peak TV times, as the number of new scripted US TV series hit a record high in 2022, with another 599 added to the ever-growing television trove.

In some heartening news for viewers with mile-long watchlists and friends who won't stop recommending shows that both of you know you'll never watch, FX’s chairman John Landgraff thinks we may have finally hit the true peak of “peak TV”, though it's worth noting that he's been wrong about calling the peak twice before.

Network issues

However, as we find ourselves floating down the seemingly endless stream of TV via the multitude of subscription services now available, traditional networks in the US are struggling to keep their viewing figures afloat.

Viewership for 19 of the top 20 networks fell last year, with ABC, NBC and CBS seeing their viewing numbers drop 6%, 7% and 8%, respectively, suggesting that traditional TV is struggling to compete in the age of streaming, with some outlets having to half-jokingly remind readers that network dramas still exist.

Interestingly, sporting giant ESPN was the only network in the top 20 to record higher viewing figures in 2022, up some 14%, confirming the narrative among TV execs that live sport remains one of the biggest pulls in all of entertainment. No surprises then that big tech is looking to muscle in on sports rights, with YouTube's $14bn NFL deal, Apple's tie-up with the MLS and Amazon's ambition to build a standalone app for its sports coverage, which includes football, tennis, soccer and baseball.

Supply vs. Demand

Tesla has dropped prices by up to 20% in the US in what appears to be a bid to fuel demand, after missing delivery targets last quarter.

The lower pricing is a double benefit for would-be buyers. The cuts mean that, for American consumers, some of Tesla’s most popular lines, like the Model Y SUV, are now below the cap needed to qualify for the $7,500 EV tax credit. And Tesla’s not just having a sale in the US either. Models in China have seen their prices slashed for the second time since September, with cuts of 13% and 17% also coming in the UK and Germany, respectively.

Tesla has spearheaded the charge into EVs for more than a decade, but they might — for the first time in their history — be seeing supply outstrip demand. For two quarters in a row, Tesla has produced more cars than they’ve delivered. That’s partly down to logistical issues faced when shipping its vehicles, but the scale of the price cuts suggest that Tesla has recognized a need to be more price competitive in order to hold onto its EV market share, which fell to 65% in the US towards the end of 2022, down from 71% the year before.

Buyer’s remorse

With an increasingly competitive EV market, an uncertain economic environment and a share price that has fallen ~65% in 2022, Tesla execs will be hoping the Econ 101 theory plays out in reality, and the lower prices stimulate demand.

Of course, recent Tesla buyers have been feeling more than a bit of remorse after learning that they've paid thousands more than if they'd waited, with some owners in China even protesting in Tesla showrooms.

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Pop drop

China’s National Bureau of Statistics announced that the nation’s population dropped by ~850k in 2022, the first annual decline since 1961 when the country endured its great famine.

While it's not completely unexpected, China’s birthrate has been falling for the last 6 years, the drop means that the country’s population has peaked significantly sooner than experts anticipated and could point to serious issues for the world’s second-largest economy.

Shifting sands

According to United Nations estimates from 2022, India is set to overtake China as the world’s most-populous nation this year, though some analysts believe the China announcement suggests that the switch could have happened already. It’s clear too that, from current rates, the chasm will only extend over time, with India set to end the century with nearly double the population of China.

From the planet's perspective, fewer humans competing for finite resources is good news, though many people — Elon Musk included — believe population collapse could become a major issue over the rest of the 21st century.

With fewer births, China's population pyramid is set to invert, leading to a “top-heavy” demographic, in which a small base of working-age citizens have to support an increasingly large elderly population. That's something Japan — and a number of countries in Europe — have dealt with for years, and is likely to weigh on China's economic growth, which, per data out today, is already slowing.

Go deeper: Use the UN’s Data Portal to see the full forecasts, country by country.

More Data

• Congress’s FTX issue: over 1 in 3 members accepted campaign support from Sam Bankman-Fried and co.

• New York City’s most popular dog names.

• 2023’s picking up where 2022 laid off with an average 1600 tech jobs axed every day so far this year.

• Heroes welcome: Marvel is back in China after a 3-year de facto ban.

Hi-Viz

• The most filmed locations in every state, from the Hoover Dam to Disney World.

• The remarkable boom in used car prices is now, at last, coming back down to Earth — prices have fallen 13% in the last 12 months.

Off the charts: Which company, half-owned part by the world's richest person, could see a real life Succession battle unfold after the CEO appointed his daughter head of a key division? Answer below.

Answer here.

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