The Serial star goes free.
Quick refresher. Syed was charged with the murder of his ex-girlfriend in 1999. The crime was ugly- the victim was found strangled in the woods. The case was thrust into the spotlight in 2014, when it became the main focus of Serial. Over the course of 12 episodes, the show probed the details of the murder case, exposing a disturbing amount of questions unanswered and unsettling complications surrounding the final verdict.
And aside from shining a spotlight on Syed’s questionable conviction, the podcast broke new ground in episodic, audio storytelling. With over 300 million downloads, the first season inspired an entire genre of true crime podcasts. Serial was the first of its kind. It won just about every major journalism award, including a DuPont and a Peabody. And Sarah Koenig, the show’s host, was named one of Time’s Most Influential People of 2015.
Fast forward to today, and after serving nearly 23 years behind bars, a US judge overturned Adnan Syed’s conviction. While the decision does not mean he is innocent, it does allow for Syed to receive a new trial.
Does Syed owe his newfound freedom to the podcast? No doubt. Of course, a team of attorneys and and a certain State Attorney in Baltimore had something to do with it, but would the case ever have gotten a second look if it weren’t for Serial? My hunch? Definitely not. In recent years, other investigative podcasts like Serial have worked to get high-profile cases overturned. In the Dark helped get a murder conviction reversed for Mississippi man Curtis Flowers.
Interestingly enough, it’s not the power of the truth that wins here. Of course, the truth should always be your focal point. But how you tell the truth matters. When it comes to effective marketing, it’s all about the power of a good story. Or better yet, the power of a well told story. Through the lens of a sitting judge, or even an attorney, Adnan Syed’s case sounds like the hundred others we’ve seen on the news ticker at night. But through the means of investigative journalism, with the voice of a fantastic story teller, and broadcasted on a popular audio platform, the right story has the opportunity to thrive. And once an audience is captivated, enter the power of social media. Serial took off, and the rallying cries on social media followed closely behind. The case garnered an enormous amount of attention. Attention it wouldn’t have received otherwise.
Lesson of the day? Stories matter. And how well a story is told could be the difference in life or death. No pressure.
Amazon’s Thursday Night Football draws in record audience
Amazon’s debut broadcast of “Thursday Night Football” attracted a record number of new Prime signups over a three-hour period. Last week’s game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers was the first of 15 games Amazon will broadcast as part of a deal with the National Football League. The platform holds exclusive streaming rights for TNF through 2033. And it only cost them $1 billion.
The new gig gives Amazon a distinct edge in the so-called streaming wars. The resounding success of their initial TNF broadcast establishes Prime Video as a worthy competitor in the sports media space. Amazon anticipates about 12.5 million viewers per game- which is a lot of anticipation.
And because there’s always naysayers, a few of those viewers had less than pleasant things to say about Thursday’s broadcast. The acoustics of the stadium drew big complaints. Fans reported a less crisp sound in comparison to NBC’s primetime game. My biggest issue? The inability to flip channels. Because the game is streaming through the app, you can’t switch channels easily during commercial breaks. Your only option is to exit the app, and find another program on a completely different platform. Which takes roughly 300 years.
Spotify introduces audiobooks.
Charge up those airpods. Spotify is officially in the audiobook market, with over 300,000 titles now available on its pay-per-book model. Prices per book will vary depending on popularity and length. For example, Jennette McCurdy’s recent memoir I’m Glad My Mom Died retails for $13.99 while J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Rings costs $25.90. Which honestly, should cost closer to $100. Can you imagine having to read that whole thing out loud?
This is the latest effort from Spotify to expand into the world of audio beyond music. Throughout the last few years, the platform has invested significantly in the podcast sector, and now boasts more than 4 million shows in its library. Notable shows include The Joe Rogan Experience, Megan Markle’s new Archetypes series, Renegades from President Obama and Bruce Springsteen, and every true crime lover’s favorite, Crime Junkie.
In regards to their audiobook venture, Daniel Ek, Spotify’s founder and chief executive, said the company is prepared to be competitive in the new arena. “Just as we’ve done in podcasting, expect us to play to win.” Sounds like an Under Armour shirt, but we get the idea.
Best of the Week
A cutesy slideshow from Think With Google on the trends that will turn curious shoppers into real customers this holiday season. Yep. I said holiday season. Time to panic, everyone.
Tools and Tricks
This is one to bookmark. HubSpot offers a free download with Excel graph generator templates. The trick to making your boring presentation more interesting? Less words, more graphs.
What to Watch
The latest Hulu series is keeping us all up at night. The Patient is a psychological thriller starring Steve Carell, who plays a therapist that’s been kidnapped by his patient. Who happens to be a serial killer. NBD.
One of our all time favorites dropped a new song on Friday and dare we say, it just might be a new all time favorite. Check out Ben Rector’s new single, “Wonderful World.”
More News from the Week
- Beyond Meats’ COO Doug Ramsey bit a man’s nose off after a college football game. TBH, he looks like a nose biter. See for yourself.
- The FDA issues a warning that boiling chicken in NyQuil is, in fact, not a good idea. If you needed this warning, I’m concerned.
- Peloton’s new rowing machine will finally be released later this year, and will only cost $3,195. A steal.
- Facebook users are suing Meta. But will they have a virtual judge? Or one IRL? Lots of questions TBD.
- Roger Federer played his final tennis match. Footage of the event will make even non tennis people tear up.
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