December 4, 2023

Today's Topics

Hello! Gen Z favorite "Rizz" is the word of the year, according to the Oxford University Press. Today we're exploring

  • Peak content: Apple & Paramount are considering teaming up.
  • Peak chocolate: Cocoa prices are hitting new highs.
  • Peak coal: Plotting America's coal cutback.

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Paramount+ and Apple TV+ could soon be tied together, as the parent companies of the 2 streamers explore the possibility of bundling the services, per reporting from the Wall Street Journal on Friday.

Currently, an Apple TV+ subscription sets US viewers back $9.99 per month, while a Paramount+ Essential subscription (without Showtime) is $5.99/mo. The rumored tie-up would supposedly be cheaper than subscribing to both individually, and comes amidst a wave of industry change, as streamers explore everything from price increases, content culls, and bundling to keep their audiences' attention.

Quality, quantity, both… or neither?

The idea of a bundle makes a lot of sense for Paramount and Apple, which have significantly smaller libraries than their competitors. Apple’s offering is particularly lean, with data from Reelgood showing just over 200 titles on Apple TV+, less than 2% of the ~14,000 available on Amazon Prime Video.

Indeed, despite leaning into quality rather than quantity — with shows like Ted Lasso and Severance getting good marks from critics — Apple TV+ still sees an increasing number of customers canceling, with the churn rate on the platform rising every month between May and September, per Variety.

I’ve seen this one before

Industry experts have been predicting content combinations for some time now, and polling suggests that consumers might also be onboard: 64% reportedly wish there was a service to bundle all of their streaming subscriptions.

Choc shock

Getting your chocolate fix could soon set you back much more than you expect, as cocoa future prices have surged to levels not seen in over 4 decades, hitting $4,400 per metric ton.

The rising prices are down to extreme rainfall in West Africa. Indeed, Ghana and Ivory Coast, the two leading cocoa-producing nations accounting for 60% of global production, are anticipating their lowest yields in 13 and 7 years, respectively. Inclement weather in the region, which has seen twice the usual rainfall this season, has exacerbated the spread of a fungal disease known as black pod, which claimed a tenth of Ghana's last cocoa harvest.


High prices also aren’t helping to draw new supply into the market because cocoa sales in both Ghana and Ivory Coast are tightly controlled by their governments, with deals usually agreed at least 12 months in advance. This has left growers not only footing the bill for higher fertilizer costs, but it's created a period of limbo, as the latest round of negotiations between governments and cocoa companies — which are pushing for discounts on the high prices — drag on.

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The 28th annual UN climate meeting, held this year in Dubai, is already fueling controversy, after the host country revealed plans to expand oil production and the president of the summit made comments throwing doubt on the role that fossil fuels play in limiting climate change.

But one substantial policy from the summit has been agreed: the US, along with 56 other nations, has formally committed to transitioning away from coal power, pledging no new coal plants and a phase-out of existing production.

Although nearly 20% of US electricity was still powered by coal in October, the amount of coal burned nationwide has more than halved since 2008 — “peak coal” (at least in terms of electricity consumption) in the US was roughly 15 years ago.

Changing hearts and mines

It’s been documented for some time that — in order to produce the same amount of energy — coal emits some 80% more carbon dioxide than natural gas, 35% more than gasoline, and substantially more than renewable sources... which is why many of the recent discussions focus on economics, rather than science.

The coal commitment will be welcomed by many, but the wider cost of a full global energy transition to net zero is hard to get your head around. Estimates vary, but they all use the same units: trillions of dollars. McKinsey’s latest guess? A final price tag of $275 trillion, or $35,000 for every man, woman, and child on the planet.

More Data

• Less than a week after wrapping up everyone’s listening stats for 2023, Spotify announced plans to lay off 17% of its staff to cut costs, slashing ~1,500 jobs.

• Nesting chinstrap penguins, native to Antarctica, take over 10,000 micronaps every day, according to a new study published in Science.

Bitcoin — often called digital gold by some of its proponents — hit nearly $42k this morning, up ~18% in the last month. Separately, the price of actual gold also hit an all-time high.


• Elf and safety: charting the annual spike in ER admittances related to Christmas decorating.

• The FT’s 25 most influential women of 2023.

Off the charts: Much has been written about the advertiser exodus at X in recent weeks, prompting a strongly-worded response from CEO Elon Musk last Wednesday. Which retailer, recently covered in our Sunday edition, confirmed on Friday that it had stopped advertising on the platform? [Answer below].

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