November 10, 2023

Today's Topics

Hello! Ahead of Veterans Day, we'd like to honor those who have served and those who are currently serving — thank you for your bravery and sacrifice. Today we explore:

  • Unprecedented Times: The NYT just hit a major milestone.
  • Booming out: America's population could peak this century.
  • Big Vs. Small: US consumers are in a business bind.

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Good Times

Shares in the New York Times Company jumped some 6% on Wednesday after the media giant reported that it had passed the 10 million subscriber mark, creeping closer to its target of hitting 15 million subs by 2027, with sales also up 9.3% year-over-year.

The NYT, like the Financial Times, saw print subscriptions slump in the last quarter — though the 172-year-old paper more than made up for this drop by adding over 800,000 digital-only readers / gamers / sports fans in the last year, as it continues to refresh its offerings. A booming subscriber business leaves the NYT less exposed to the fickle nature of advertising, which accounted for less than 20% of its revenue in Q3.

The Times it is a-changin'

The Gray Lady’s certainly growing old gracefully, thanks to a few acquisitions in recent years: it picked up trendy sports outlet The Athletic in January 2022, for example, and bought the viral — if fading — game Wordle in the same month. Forays into dedicated cooking, online games, and consumer recommendation products (like Wirecutter) have helped to broaden the digital appeal of the news org — a strategy that CEO Meredith Kopit Levien labels “multiproduct bundles”.

Booming out?

The post-WWII baby boom — which, at the time, spurred fears of overpopulation — is now a very distant memory, as new analysis suggests that America could face the opposite problem moving into the 2100s.

While a slight acceleration in population growth was observed in 2022, up from the slowest rate on record the year prior, projections out this week from the Census Bureau see America’s long streak of expansion grinding to a halt by the 21st century’s end. Indeed, the US population could be shrinking by as early as 2080, after peaking at 369 million, in the bureau’s central scenario.

Make America Grow Again

This marks the first time that the bureau has forecast a decline for the coming decades — with the only other recorded population decline in the US occurring in 1918, amidst a deadly Spanish flu outbreak and a World War.By contrast with 2015’s and 2018’s optimistic outlooks, the stark shift in 2023’s projection reflects a decline in birth rates, higher death rates (due to an increasingly aging population, as well a COVID-related spike), and a reliance on immigration as a driving factor for growth.

With America's well of young workers expected to dry up as a result of these determining forces, it's easy to imagine the US economy bearing the brunt of a smaller society — like Japan, Italy and many other countries.

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Google can’t stop catching antitrust cases: the search giant is now battling Fortnite maker Epic Games over its Play Store in court, while simultaneously defending ongoing monopoly allegations from the Justice Department in Washington.

Antitrust laws exist to stop companies from dominating the market to the detriment of consumers, and the US population is — for the most part — right behind them, with some 69% of Americans “strongly or somewhat” supporting the competition-encouraging legislation, according to recent YouGov data.

The size paradox

Although the election cycle will likely bring about much talk of small business as “the backbone of the American economy”, and see politicians make various promises to keep bigger corporations in check, there’s a discrepancy at the heart of the business size debate.

The same survey also reveals a classic paradox of the big vs. small argument: we love small businesses, but we also can’t get enough of the lower prices offered by industry behemoths. Indeed, while Americans view smaller companies more positively in environmental, ethical, and even wider economic terms, they just can’t compete against the titans on prices, with 44% of Americans agreeing that big companies charge less.

More Data

Lights, camera, back in action: following 118 days of strikes, SAG-AFTRA reached a tentative agreement with Hollywood’s major studios and streamers on Wednesday — now all 160,000 members of the union can return to learning their lines.

• Race to the bottom: the Colombian government is stepping up its efforts to recover a shipwreck that could contain up to $20 billion worth of treasure.

• The future of wearables is here, and it's... an AI Pin that wants to replace the basic tasks of voice assistants (and costs $699).

TikTok has reportedly been telling advertisers that #Israel is trending, but not #Palestine — despite the latter tag racking up 2x as many posts on the platform, according to Semafor.


• Paying too much for rent? Check out the cities with the lowest (and highest) cost of living.

• Charting the shift in skin tones for Lego minifigures away from traditional yellow.

Off the charts: Support for ____ has hit an all-time high? [Answer below].

Answer here.

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