Voting for the 2022 USA Mullet Championships concludes tomorrow. The first-prize winner will receive $2.5k, a pair of Pit Viper sunglasses, and most importantly, bragging rights for the best mullet in all the land.
In today’s email:
Audiobooks: A battle is brewing.
Chart: Streaming mergers are coming.
Digits: Airbnb horror, pumpkin records, and more.
Around the Web: A long-running webcam, trippy art, and more cool internet finds.
Today, audiobooks make up just ~$9B of the $140B global book industry.
By 2030, that segment is forecasted to reach $35B+, and with so much growth expected, it’s no surprise the market is heating up.
With music and podcasts under its belt, and almost a year after acquiring audiobook distribution platform Findaway, Spotify recently launched its own audiobooks section, serving up 300k+ titles.
That puts it in Amazon’s sights…
… with Audible commanding the largest share of the US market. Still, it’s clear Spotify is uniquely positioned to take them on.
The Spotify Machine, as CEO Daniel Ek calls it, represents the company’s proven practice of bundling verticals “into a single consumer experience… that benefits users, creators, ad partners, developers and Spotify itself.”
Spotify has spent years oiling its music and podcast verticals. It dominates the music streaming market and claims to have surpassed Apple in podcast listeners.
Audiobooks make economic sense
Spotify is notorious for stiffing artists on royalties, but the streamer still spent ~$7B on music payouts in 2021. While audiobooks aren’t quite as attractive as podcasts, which have zero marginal costs, their margins are better than music.
For now, the company offers audiobooks a la carte, but it’s studying business models that involve advertising within audiobooks.
Parents may rejoice at the result, as users could potentially see more promotion for teen novels, and less for the latest Drake album.
Savage: Netflix is releasing an original comedy show about Blockbuster. As one comment eloquently put it — “Netflix really twisting that knife.”
Rivian has built 14.3k+ electric SUVs and pickups this year. It just recalled 13k of them due to a loose nut that risks losing steering control.
Internal memos show Meta’s VP of Metaverse is enforcing weekly employee use of the Horizon Worlds product in order to have them “fall in love” with it.
Dan Wieden, the ad exec who never even wanted to go into advertising, died on Sept. 30. He made Nike’s “Just Do It” tagline.
A cobalt mine in Idahothat was shut down in 1982 has reopened to meet demand for EV batteries and battery storage. It is the only such mine in the US.
Portugal’s new “digital nomad visa” allows workers who make $2.7k+/mo. to apply to live there for one year or for residency.
Seems high: An Uber passenger was charged ~$39k for a 15-minute ride to Australia despite being in England. Uber fixed it.
Get going: Putting that big project off until the last minute again? Learn how to stop procrastinating with these nine tips.
Streaming mergers are coming
With 200+ streaming services all charging an individual subscription price, consolidation was always inevitable.
And a string of recent announcements suggests it’s starting to happen:
In August, Warner Bros. Discovery announced a plan to merge HBO Max and Discovery+ into one service by summer 2023.
Last month, Disney CEO Bob Chapek said he hopes to merge Disney+ with Hulu in 2024, when Disney can buy out Comcast’s interest in the service.
Last week, the exit of Paramount Global exec David Nevins led analysts to speculate that Showtime could be absorbed into Paramount+ in short order.
Along with offering better price points for more content, Chapek says a merger can also reduce “consumer friction” caused by having to toggle between two different services.
Now if only there was an easy way to know which titles were on each platform.
1) If there’s anything you can depend on in life, it’s horror being a dependable genre at the box office. With a modest $4m budget, Barbarian — about a terrifying Airbnb — has raked in $36.5m domestically.
2) New York Yankee Aaron Judge hit his 62nd home run last week, breaking a league record. The ball, potentially worth$2m+, was caught by a fan, opening up peculiar tax questions.
3) There’s a new heaviest pumpkin in the US. The Great Pumpkin Farm in Clarence, New York, grew a 2,554-pound pumpkin, beating the 2,528-pound record.
4) The massive 120-year-old nonprofit, Goodwill, is moving deeper into recommerce, launching an online thrift store. Last year, the group brought in $5.4B in retail revenue.
5) In 2020, fearing viral spread, the Danish government culled all 17m mink that made up its massive fur industry and offered farmers a $2.5B bailout. Even so, the situation has spiraled downhill to the point where a new government is being voted on.
AROUND THE WEB
👻 On this day: In 1980, Midway’s hugely popular “Pac-Man” video game was released in North America, months after launching in Japan as “Puck-Man.”
😶🌫️ That’s interesting: The story behind the beloved San Francisco FogCam, a webcam that just celebrated its 28th birthday.
🎧 Podcast: Listen to this episodeof Finding Founders to learn how Tukatech CEO Ram Sareen went from busboy to making $1.2m a year in fashion.
📗 Art: Argentinian artist KidMograph makes mind-bending art, like this GIF book.