September 25, 2023

Today's Topics

Hello! Finally, after 146 days on the picket line, a “tentative” deal has been reached between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers — just 5 days before the strike would become the longest in the guild’s history. Today we explore:

  • Adding up: Amazon is embracing ads, this time on Prime Video.
  • Déjà vu: The government could be facing another shutdown.
  • Prenup-tick: Younger generations are more comfortable with prenuptial agreements.
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Prime’s time

Amazon Prime Video has joined the growing slew of streamers with ad-supported offerings, announcing plans to roll out the new tier in the US in early 2024. The service will set users back an extra $2.99 a month if they want to carry on enjoying The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel or The Boys ad-free.

It all ads up

Amazon has said that the limited ads will allow the company to continue its content spending, which soared 28% to $16.6 billionin 2022, after splashing out on mega shows like The Rings of Power. While commercial breaks might be new to Prime Video, advertising has been a burgeoning segment in Bezos’s behemoth for some time. Indeed, in the most recent quarter, ads on Amazon brought in nearly $10.7 billion, up 22% on last year. That haul makes it one of the largest advertising businesses in the world — bigger than YouTube, Snapchat and Twitter (now X), which combined for just $9.3bn of ad revenue in their most recent quarters.

Remarkably, Amazon’s ad business only made up ~8% of its whopping $134 billion net sales for the period, and some industry experts believe that margins in the ad division could be “well over 50%”, which would mean it brought in as much profit as the company's much-laudedAWS business in 2022.

Prime Video ads, on the other hand, are likely to be a lot less lucrative, as they won’t be shown to people with what the marketing industry calls “high intent”. When you search for “air fryer”, and Amazon shows you a sponsored air fryer brand in the search results, there’s a much higher chance that you’ll buy it than if you’d just seen it in-between episodes of your favorite show.

Déjà vu

It’s the story that never truly goes away: a shutdown of the US government is once again looking likely, with budget negotiations in Congress dragging on. If the House fails to reach an agreement on funding legislation by the October 1st deadline, hundreds of thousands of federal employees will find themselves furloughed without pay, and all non-essential federal agencies will likely grind to a halt.

Any shutdown could directly impact the nearly 3 million people who rely on the federal government for their payslips, with everyone from White House staffers to airport security personnel, tax collectors to National Park rangers, potentially affected. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the government is the nation's largest employer, accounting for over 22 million employees (excluding non-civilian military personnel). For perspective, the next largest employer, Walmart, employs roughly one-tenth that number.

However, the vast majority of the public sector workforce is employed at the local and state levels, collectively shouldering the responsibilities of crucial functions such as education, law enforcement, infrastructure projects and firefighting. In the event of a shutdown, state and local governments will be forced to tap into their own coffers to cover grants and expenses — but these budgets have their own limits, and their capacity to bridge the gap is not inexhaustible.

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Prenup-tick

It seems that more millennials are declaring ‘I have’ before saying ‘I do’. Prenuptial agreements — legal contracts signed prior to marriage that detail how assets will be divided in the event of divorce — are on the rise, even among those without multi-million dollar holdings to protect (as in Jeff Bezos’s case).

Made famous by countless celebrity settlements, prenups appear to be breaking into the mainstream: a recent survey for Axios found that half of US adults were open to signing a prenup — up 8% from the year before. This was especially prominent for younger generations, with 41% of Gen Z and 47% of millennials who are engaged or have been married saying that they’d entered a prenup.

Bride before a fall

The increase in prenups follows the trend of millennials marrying later in their life (the median age of first marriage is now 27 for women and 29 for men, up from 20 and 23 in 1960), suggesting that they have more time to accumulate assets — which they’d like to protect just in case — before they wed.

Even if all these legalities don’t sound very romantic, they might just be helping Americans to tie the knot. CDC data showed that, following a rock-bottom marriage rate in 2020 of 5.1 per 1,000 population in the US, rates of nuptials bounced back to 6.0 the following year. But it might take an even greater force than countering a pandemic-borne slump for modern marriage to take its place at this generations’ altar: the highest rate (16.4) ever recorded was observed in 1946 — the year after WW2 ended.

More Data

• More and more companies are calling time on the phone business: nearly 500 brands exited the smartphone market between 2017-2023.

• How much does love cost? Well, the team at Tinder thinks it could be as much as $499 a month — that's the cost of its latest VIP subscription.

• Ethiopian runner Tigist Assefa ran the Berlin Marathon yesterday in 2 hours 11 minutes 53 seconds, smashing the women's record time in new $500 super-shoes.

Victoria, the 120-year old red carpet company used by the British royal family, has seen its shares tumble as fears rise over “risk of material fraud”.

Hi-Viz

Cafés per capita: WalletHub have crunched the numbers on the best coffee cities in America.

Off the charts: Which star-studded franchise — a major underperformer as the US box office experienced its worst weekend of the year so far — have we redacted in the chart below? [Answer below].

Answer here.

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