July 20, 2022 BY Jacey Edwards in Newsletter
Running up that Hill to McDonalds’ Summer Camp: NL #105
Move over Squid Game.
There’s a new kid in town. Well, not exactly. Stranger Things is certainly no stranger to the top of the streaming charts, but after the release of part 2 of Season 4 over the holiday weekend, it’s giving the reigning Netflix streaming champ a run for its money.
The Duffer Brothers’ Goonies-esque sci-fi thriller series set in the 1980s has racked up 30 billion hours of viewing, and for a good reason–the story is thrilling, the characters are captivating, and the soundtrack is, well, totally tubular.
But not even this rag-tag group of teenagers (including a super suave character named Steve Harrington–obviously named after my dad) who are hell-bent on saving the world from the villainous Vecna can save Netflix from its latest woes. In the first three months of this year, Netflix lost a whopping 200,000 subscribers and expects to lose another 2 million by the end of the second quarter.
To stop the bleeding, the streaming giant is trying to hold on to subscribers who would otherwise bail after a month. The move? Releasing new seasons of high profile shows like Ozark and Stranger Things in two chunks, with weeks of waiting in between. The result? The one and done subscribers are forced to stick around for two or three months if they want to catch the whole season. Very very sneaky if you ask me.
But why the mass exodus in the first place? A few reasons. Netflix’s recent price hike early this year definitely didn’t help. But neither did the value of their content library. Even though Netflix spends around $17 billion a year on new TV shows and movies, losing the nostalgia factor of popular series like The Office, Cheers, and West Wing to licensing agreements is a huge blow to audience morale. People don’t feel like they’re getting their money’s worth anymore. And with free entertainment options like TikTok at their fingertips, who could blame them?
Shows like Stranger Things can pick up the slack in the short term, but as for Netflix’s chances of climbing out of the Upside Down any time soon, the jury’s still out. Somewhere. Running Up That Hill.
Is the clock ticking for TikTok?
We know Vecna’s clock is ticking, but what about TikTok’s? Last week FCC Commissioner Brenden Carr renewed calls to remove the popular app from the U.S. app stores. Carr published an open letter calling out the Chinese-owned behemoth owned by ByteDance for its sketchy practices with consumer data, claiming that “TikTok is not what it appears to be on the surface.” A dis if I ever heard one.
This new wave of condemnation is the latest in a years-long history of government scrutiny over the security risks posed by the world’s most visited website. In 2020, President Trump issued an executive order that would force the sale of the app into U.S. ownership, but the move was shelved after he lost the presidency to Joe Biden.
TikTok’s answer to the scrutiny has been “Project Texas,” a plan that would transfer the ownership of U.S. user’s data to U.S. servers. But as Ezra Klein points out, securing data is only part of the equation. ByteDance executives in China would still have control over the algorithms, and could leverage that power in all sorts of unsettling ways.
Look, no one wants to lose their life-hacks and viral dances–least of all me–but it is concerning that an app where most young people go to get their news has this much free reign. As Klein puts it, “Our collective attention is important. Whoever (or whatever) controls our attention controls, to a large degree, our future.” Either way, if the TikTokalypse does come, you can find me crying in the bathroom.
The teens are at it again.
It’s not all bad news, folks. The teens are here to cheer us up! And they’ve come dressed for the occasion. Addicted to chaos, but dressed–and looking very snazzy I might add.
So what exactly is the occasion? The July 4th release of the 5th installment of the Despicable Me franchise, Minions: The Rise of Gru, which raked in a cool $125 mil, breaking box office records.
But back to the teens. There’s a familiar story that starts like this: “once upon a time, there was a meme.” And that meme, #gentleminions, quickly evolved into hoards of teens dressing up in suits going to see the movie, applauding in unison, and documenting it all on TikTok to a rap track.
Are they causing a scene and disrupting the experience for everyone not in on the joke? Well, of course, they’re teens. But so far there’s 160k+ videos and counting. And even better? People are finally headed back to the movies post-pandemic. Who knew the new normal would be this despicable–and cute?
Best of the Week
Gas prices got you down? Well as early as this fall, you may be able to pay from your dashboard instead of at the pump with CarPlay’s latest feature. A little tech to ease the pain.
Get the App
McDonald’s is sending Gen Z to summer camp, and we’re lovin’ it. From July 5th-31st, the McDonald’s app will rollout a “virtual festival” with daily meal deals, menu hacks, build your owns, live music, and more. Translation: millions of happy campers.
Follow the Trends
For some fascinating insights into Gen Z video consumption, take a gander at YouTube’s latest Culture and Trends report. Spoiler alert: personalized content is king.
Netflix and Spotify want you to keep Running Up That Hill to the sound of your own personalized Stranger Things playlist. Just click on this link, log in to Spotify, and let the algorithms take care of the rest.
More News from the Week.
- Hold that waffle cone. The CDC just confirmed that ice cream from the Florida-based Big Olaf Creamery is connected to a deadly listeria outbreak spanning 10 states. It’s going to be a Rocky Road getting past this one, folks.
- Snap. Crackle. Snackle. Your snacking game just got a whole lot cooler with this snazzy mini-suitcase of deliciousness. Moms everywhere rejoice.
- Old Spice and Arby’s are teaming up to combat the ‘meat sweats‘. Not kidding. Nab your roast beef-patterned sweatsuit ASAP. Some say this is just another example of toxic meatsculinity in advertising, but I can’t say I have any beef with it.
- You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here. Airbnb has officially banned parties for good. And poof, there goes my summer plans.
- FIFA just announced plans to use AI-powered cameras to assist officials in the 2022 World Cup. Sure, that’s all well and good, but while we’re here, can we get them to explain the offside rule?