September 20, 2023

Today's Topics

Hello! It’s never too late to change your mind — even if, like the Wall Street Journal, you correct yourself some 60 years later…proving that everybody makes mistakes, if you read the fine print. Today we explore:

  • The chips are down: MGM's casino business is under attack.
  • Shows over: The streamers that cancel the most shows.
  • Flake out: The breakfast category is under pressure.
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The house might not always win

MGM Resorts can’t seem to snap its losing streak, as the casino giant enters its 10th day of grappling with a cyberattack that is crippling the company — with everything from room keys to check-in systems and slot machines being reported broken. Beleaguered staff have resorted to doing hundreds of tasks manually, including in some cases hand-writing receipts for winnings.

MGM Resorts — which owns Vegas properties such as the Bellagio, Aria, and MGM Grand — is currently refusing to succumb to the hackers' demands. This is in contrast to its competitor, Caesars Entertainment, which reportedly shelled out $15 million in ransom, just days before the MGM attack, to the same notorious cyber group, known as “Scattered Spider”.

Stick or twist?

In the first half of this year, MGM Resorts made an eye-watering $7.8 billion in revenue, split mostly across gambling, rooms, food and entertainment. That’s ~$42m of revenue every day, and industry analysts estimate that the attack could be costing the company 10-20% of that figure, or roughly $4-8m a day. Management now has a very hard decision to make: either pay a hefty ransom, or hope that they can figure out a solution to wrestle back control on their own.

Scattered Spider, the group reportedly behind the attack, is now infamous, having been suspected of over 100 cyberattacks on major US corporations, spanning a spectrum of industries that include manufacturing, retail, and technology. Although packed with nefarious coders, the group’s entry into MGM's systems was reportedly low-tech — a call to the help desk impersonating an MGM employee.


2023 has seen an astounding number of TV series come to a close, with an estimated 108 shows being canceled or ending to-date. In the past week alone ABC’s The Wonder Years’ and HBO’s ‘Winning Time’ have been axed, while rumors circulate that BBC’s motoring megahit ‘Top Gear’ is also on the chopping block. Fans have also bid farewell to all-time favorites this year, including Hulu comedy ‘The Great’, Netflix thriller ‘You’, and CBS mainstay ‘NCIS Los Angeles’.

In the relentless war for attention, TV series have become collateral damage, particularly during the ongoing writer’s and actor’s strikes. Streaming platforms like Disney+ are culling their content catalogs aggressively: some fully completed shows, including ‘The Spiderwick Chronicles’, won’t make it to air at all, helping Disney book a $1.5bn tax write-off in its most recent quarter.

Against the stream

An analysis of TV data from Variety found that 26.6% of shows on broadcast networks have been canceled in the past 3 years, compared with 12.2% overall for streaming and just 7.2% for cable. Indeed, cable networks manage to maintain a low rate of cancellation due to the sheer volume of its output and endurance of its programming, with cable programs lasting an average of 2.64 series before being canceled, in contrast to just 1.62 for streaming platforms.

Amongst the streamers, HBO’s Max had the highest overall cancellation rate, dropping 26.9% of its series between 2020-23. By contrast, although Netflix saw the most series being canceled overall (103), this equated to only 10.2% of shows in its vast library — while Apple TV+ had the lowest cancellation rate by far (4.9%), owing to a ‘quality-over-quantity’ approach in producing its own content.

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Cereal killer

It's crunch time for manufacturers of the ‘breakfast of champions’: next month Kellogg’s, the iconic cereal brand that brought us Corn Flakes, will snap, crackle and pop into two divisions. On Oct 2nd, shares in WK Kellogg, a spin-off focused solely on cereal production, will begin trading, while the remaining Kellogg Company will rebrand to ‘Kellanova’ as it hones in on global snacking and frozen foods.

Kellogg has been on a rocky road. Factory fires and strikes have plagued the company, while the cereal market has been slowly declining for years. Excepting an upturn in 2020 as homebound buyers buyers turned to unfussy, nostalgic foods, US sales of ready-to-eat cereals fell 8.7% in 2021, and a further 3.9% in 2022, with Kellogg’s also losing market share.

Bowled over

It’s much harder to stay afloat in today’s cereal market than it was when Kellogg’s launched in the early 1900s, as the number of competitors has boomed. Between 2000-2009, 333 new cereals hit the shelves, almost equivalent to the number of cereals that were released in the 127 years up to 1990, and a further 341 varieties were introduced in the 2010s alone (data from

But, even with all of that cereal choice, shoppers are still shifting towards convenience — a report from Mintel in 2015 showed that almost 40% of millennials thought cereal was an ‘inconvenient’ breakfast — driving frozen breakfast food sales up 11.4% in 2022. Indeed, cultural changes in taste have seen high-protein yogurt soar in popularity over high-carb, often sugary cereals, even with significant efforts from cereal brands to market ‘protein-packed’ versions as ‘health-conscious’ choices.

More Data

Katy Perry will be “roaring” all the way to the bank after selling the catalog rights for 5 of her albums to the tune of $225 million.

• Hundreds of flying taxis, designed to reach speeds up to 200 mph, are set to be manufactured in Ohio, where the Wright brothers first pioneered human flight.

Instacart shares closed up 12% yesterday in their first day of trading (we covered the impending IPO last week).

Airbnb's official party pooper has reportedly reduced partying at rentals by 55% over 2 years.


• Hamster years, dog years and goldfish years: how long do typical house pets live?

Elon Musk is again considering charging users a small monthly amount to use X/Twitter. Our analysis from last year explored what % of users would replace the ad business.

Off the charts: Which company were we charting about below? Hint: Microsoft's Gaming CEO revealed yesterday he would like Microsoft to one day acquire it if possible. [Answer below].

Answer here.

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