January 8, 2024

Today's Topics

Good morning! Just days after the first big winter storm of the season, nearly 70 million people across the US must hunker down once again, with heavy snow, strong winds, and potential tornadoes forecast. Today we explore:

  • Cash for content: Netflix is tightening its purse strings.
  • Wages vs. inflation: Wages are winning... for now.
  • Ratings rush: The NFL is still dominating TV viewership.

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The endless Netflix scroll…

…might be getting slightly shorter. Data from What's On Netflix, analyzed by Bloomberg, revealed that Netflix released ~130 fewer original programs in 2023 than the previous year, a 16% decline — contributing to the last 3 months being Netflix's lightest slate of new releases in 5 years.

After its first foray into original content, with the splashy release of House of Cards in 2011, Netflix spent much of the next decade pumping nearly every spare dollar it had into new TV shows, movies, and documentaries. This investment yielded global hits like Stranger Things, Squid Game, and Bridgerton — as well as a host of forgettable flops — with the streamer’s content spending peaking in late 2021, when it parted with $4.8 billion in a single quarter to win over increasingly flighty subscribers. That's equivalent to $52.6 million in content spending every single day.

Since then, however, Netflix has tightened its purse strings, spending just $3.2 billion in its most recent quarter. With Disney, Paramount, HBO, Peacock, and others all competing to fund that next smash hit, Netflix has shifted to a mantra of “quality over quantity” — a far cry from its 2020 strategy of making a new movie every week.

Making gains

A Labor Department report on Friday revealed that the US job market is looking healthier than many had predicted, with the economy adding 216,000 jobs, leaving the unemployment rate unchanged at a near-record low of 3.7%.

But, of course, the number of workers is only one side of the equation; the other — arguably more important — question is whether the pay at your job is keeping up with inflation. For much of the last 2 and a half years, the answer for many was no.

Indeed, overall inflation outstripped pay rises in every month from April 2021 to early 2023. That started to change in earnest last summer, as employees’ pay packets began to outgrow inflation, resulting in “real” wage gains for the first time in 2 years. Annual wage growth hit its 2023 peak in July at 5.1%, and it hasn’t fallen below the inflation rate since, with the latest reading showing average hourly wages up 4.1% year-over-year.

The solid jobs report suggests that the US economy perhaps doesn’t need more stimulus. In the final months of last year, a consensus emerged that the Federal Reserve might embark on a series of rate cuts, following years of hikes. However, the strong economic data has tempered those expectations, with traders revising the likelihood of cuts in March from 100% to ~70% last week.

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Ratings rush

As the 2023 NFL season approaches its climax, with all 272 regular-season games played and the 2023-24 playoffs set for the month-long lead-up to Super Bowl LVIII, America’s love of football is only growing stronger.

New data from Nielsen reveals that NFL league games padded out US TV viewership last year — accounting for a whopping 93 of the top 100 most-watched broadcasts, up from 82 the previous year, totaling 2.2 billion viewers. Along with college football, which accrued some 53.8m viewers over 3 games in the ranking, 2023 marks the first time that just a single sport has registered in the top 100, with not even one basketball or baseball broadcast making the cut.


While political and cultural mainstays like the State of the Union Address (21st place) and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (25th) bring in big TV viewer numbers year-on-year, NFL games have been doing the hard yards to keep linear television relevant. Even as cable TV subscriptions are canceled at an alarming rate, the NFL notched 8-year viewership highs in the recent season, averaging 17.5m viewers per game across TV and digital, with Monday Night Football alone up 24% from last year.

Despite the shift from cable to digital observed across most US sports, the NFL’s gargantuan TV deals with streamers like Amazon, as well as its success in winning fans overseas and in new demographics, leaves the league’s future looking healthier than ever.

More Data

• The 81st Annual Golden Globe Awards saw Oppenheimer sweep the movie categories with 5 gongs and Succession crowned TV’s number one boy with 4.

• The S&P 500 has ended its 9-week winning streak, marking the worst start to a new year since 2003.

• Radio and podcast giant, Audacy, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as it tries to restructure its $1.9 billion debt load.

• A $50,000 luxury yacht charter, a $114 truffle eye serum, and $69,000 emerald earrings were all included in this year's $500,000 Golden Globes swag bags.


• Brush up on your local knowledge by exploring the Wikipedia articles of nearby places with nearbywiki.org.

Off the charts: Which manufacturer saw its shares slide 9% in pre-market trading after a freak accident, where a plug door blew off one of its aircraft mid-flight? [Answer below].

Answer here.

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