💍 One show to rule them all

The pilot on a flight to Cabo San Lucas threatened to turn the plane around to stop a passenger from AirDropping nudes to unsuspecting fliers.

In today’s email:

  • LOTR: Bezos’ $715m passion project.
  • Chart: In-flight WiFi is getting cheaper.
  • Wordle: NYT’s bet is paying off.
  • Around the Web: Walking for your brain, a pumpkin boat, unseen videos, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s 10-minute podcast to hear about the most expensive TV show ever — plus, Bezos’ passion project and the fantasy showdown it represents.


Bezos’ $715m gamble on The Lord of the Rings

As a teen, a summer after working as a McDonald’s fry cook, Jeff Bezos organized an educational camp.

Part of the program required reading, and Bezos’ list included The Lord of the Rings.

Years later, in 1994, Bezos founded Amazon. In 1999, the LOTR series was named Amazon customers’ favorite book of the millennium.

Fast forward to 2017, when Amazon announced it had won the novel’s TV rights.


… some $715m and five years later, “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” drops on Prime Video.

  • The price tag represents the cost for the rights ($250m) and eight-episode production ($465m) of the most expensive TV season ever.
  • As one tweet put it, “Rings of Power is the first television show where if it sucks, the price of your detergent will probably go up.”

The reality is, the cost equates to income generated from ~5.1m Prime subscriptions, or just ~0.15% of Amazon’s $469.8B 2021 revenue.

In an unconventional move…

… it’s reported that Bezos personally worked on the pitch for the rights.

  • That pitch — $250m, a multiseason commitment, and book promotions on Amazon — outweighed the cash and Roku goodie bags that Netflix offered Tolkien’s heirs and studio execs while shopping the deal.

At Tuesday’s premiere, Bezos emphasized the responsibility and privilege that comes with working on Tolkien’s world.

He also recalled the stern warning his son had given him after the deal landed:

“Dad, please don’t eff this up.”


Yikes: Cleveland Federal Reserve President Loretta Mester said she expects benchmark interest rates to exceed 4%, with no cuts, in early 2023.

Whoops: Crypto.com accidentally refunded an Australian customer ~$7.2m instead of ~$68. The customer bought a house with the money, and the company is fighting them in court.

Michael Saylor, founder of MicroStrategy and a massive bitcoin bull, is getting sued by the District of Columbia for tax fraud.

Free data: T-Mobile is offering three months of unlimited data for free in an effort to lure new subscribers.

Bed Bath & Beyond plans to close ~150 stores and lay off 20% of its corporate staff in a bid to avoid bankruptcy.

Alfredo sauce covered multiple lanes of Interstate 55 in Memphis after an 18-wheeler carrying a load crashed.

The FDA authorized Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech’s reformulated covid vaccines that now target the omicron variants.

The US Navy is recruiting… for its esports team, Goats and Glory, which it considers key to connecting with Gen Z.

Update: NASA has rescheduled its Artemis I launch for Sept. 3. The window opens at 2:17pm EDT.

Wanna market a bestseller? Trendster and Female Startup Club founder Doone Roisin did exactly that, and she dropped her entire pre-launch strategy and post-launch analysis just for Trendsters.


Why in-flight WiFi will only get better

Between delays, cancellations, and inflated ticket prices, flying hasn’t been easy this year.

One silver lining is the WiFi, which is getting faster and cheaper, per The Wall Street Journal.

In-flight WiFi…

… was introduced by Boeing in 2001, and has driven passengers crazy ever since. There are two ways to get connected at 30k feet: cell towers on the ground, or satellites in the sky.

  • Satellite coverage is faster and more reliable, but expensive, leading airlines to upgrade fleets plane by plane.
  • This causes unpredictable experiences — like a Delta passenger who paid $5 for WiFi on one flight, then $29.95 on another.

But there’s good news

More airlines are upgrading to satellite internet and switching from dynamic pricing to a flat rate. With SpaceX’s Starlink entering the market, the extra competition should lead to even lower prices.

Hopefully the end result is all airlines offering WiFi for the same price as JetBlue — free.


How many tools does it take to make one sale?

For the average B2B outfit… Five.

We’ll be damned. It can only be a cry for help. So, here’s a solution for any scaling, US-based services business.

HubSpot’s payments tools are baked into the leading CRM platform for small and mid-sized teams. You can swiftly and securely accept digital payments, and offer your customers the flexibility to transact the way they want — whether it’s credit card or ACH, one-time or recurring.

There’s a lot to love about running your operation on hella smart software. Explore the advantages of an easy-to-use setup.

Wordle tiles

The ‘Wordle’ glow up, explained

The New York Times’ bet on games is paying off.

Just seven months after acquiring “Wordle” in a deal in the “low seven figures,” the Times has already brought in an “unprecedented” tens of millions of new users.

The Times’ gaming subscription…

… saw a record Q2, as Wordle players discovered other games, like “Spelling Bee,” “Sudoku,” and “Letter Boxed.”

  • Alex Hardiman, NYT’s chief product officer, says, “multiproduct subscribers pay the most and retain best.”

By bundling games and cross-promoting subscriptions throughout the Wordle experience (like showing ads after games), NYT has boosted its core offering, making it more attractive to subscribers.

Case in point: digital multiproduct subscribers increased 26% in Q2.

But that’s just the beginning

Since the acquisition, NYT has made a series of other moves with “Wordle,” including:

  • Integrating “Wordle” into its Crossword app last month.
  • Partnering with Hasbro on “Wordle: The Party Game,” a board game dropping in October.
  • Launching WordleBot, a tool that helps players train their word-guessing skills.

While “Wordle” is still free, the Times has hinted it might make the game exclusive to subscribers — at which point we expect many players will C-H-U-R-N.


🚢 On this day: In 1985, the wreckage of the Titanic was found ~400 miles east of Newfoundland, 73 years after it sank.

🎃 That’s interesting: A man paddled 38 miles in a hollowed-out pumpkin to beat the 2016 record of 25.5 miles.

🚶 How to: Walking is good exercise, but you can also walk to improve brain health.

👀 Cure boredom: Astronaut takes you on a journey through random unnamed and seldom-watched YouTube videos.

🎤 Aww: And now, a diva cat.

airline wifi meme

It’s hit-or-miss (Source: imgflip.com)

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