March 31, 2023 BY John Herrington in Newsletter
Winner winner, ad-free dinner: NL #135
To ad or not to ad?
That is the ultimate question for viewers when it comes to subscribing to streaming platforms these days.
Post-pandemic attention shifts, economic uncertainty, and inflation strain has made the competition to find and keep audiences even fiercer. As a result, we’re seeing more and more services jump on the ad-supported subscription bandwagon in hopes of hooking new cost-conscious users. To complicate things even more, existing customers are having to decide whether or not to pay a premium for ad-free perks. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
At this stage of the race, Disney is breaking ahead of the pack. Despite hiking up its monthly subscription price for ad-free Disney+ subscribers by 38% last December, 94% of users didn’t bat an eye at the upcharge, Disney+ has now surpassed 116 million subscribers, up from 94.9 million at the end of the previous quarter. This is partly due to its ad-supported plan which has seen a faster uptake than either Netflix or HBO Max among new subscribers.
Netflix has been slow on the draw when it comes to introducing advertising on its platform. Afterall, it has built its brand on being ad-free and any major pivots could chip away at their subscriber base. (The password sharing crackdown isn’t helping either.)
But with the rising cost of producing original content (those Stranger Things kids aren’t getting any cheaper), the company is scrambling to come up with alternative revenue streams. While Microsoft currently powers Netflix’s ad-tech, there’s talk of a shift to a more in-house approach. It makes sense. The streaming giant is sitting on a goldmine of subscriber data they could tap into to deliver highly targeted and personalized ads.
While it looks like the good old days of ad-free streaming with no consequences are behind us, offering more affordable options to savvy folks looking to trim their budgets is a win. I’ll probably still shell out a gajillion dollars for ad-free Disney, just like I did for Spring Break at Harry Potter World. Was it worth it? You bet your wand it was.
The banking crisis continues
Another week in March 2023, another banking crisis. I already miss the old days when all we had to worry about was a busted March Madness bracket. (Still picking up the pieces, Fairleigh Dickinson. Thanks for that.)
It seems like only yesterday that U.S. officials were racing to save Silicon Valley Bank depositors like Roku, Vox Media, and Roblox who had vast amounts of cash and securities tied up in the institution. The failed bank claims that it “provides services to nearly half of all venture-backed technology and life-science companies in the United States.” Yikes.
Now the failed Credit Suisse will see a takeover by the Swiss banking giant, UBS, for $3 billion in a historic twist of fate. Credit Suisse was experiencing massive outflows last week, up to $10 billion per day according to the WSJ, and was on the verge of collapsing. While UBS didn’t exactly jump at the opportunity to buy Credit Suisse, Swiss regulators certainly sweetened the deal by offering the bank over $100 billion in liquidity in exchange for the bailout.
For Credit Suisse, it’s an inglorious end. The once-revered institution had been badly mismanaged for years, and its measly sale price reflects its fall from grace. To put things in perspective, Crocs, yes, Crocs, is worth more than twice as much as what Credit Suisse was bought for. Ouch.
The big question now is whether these last-ditch government efforts will restore confidence in a sector that’s had its world turned upside down in less than two weeks. Just like the fate of my bracket, it looks like we’ll have to cross our fingers, close our eyes, and see what happens.
Open AI releases supercharged GPT-4
The makers of the tech world’s generative AI darling, ChatGPT has just announced the launch of GPT-4. And honestly? It’s pretty impressive.
For starters, GPT-4 is more “reliable, creative, and able to handle much more nuanced instructions,” than its predecessor, GPT-3.5. That means fewer instances of “I’m sorry, I don’t understand” and more “wow, you really get me, GPT-4”.
But that’s not all. GPT-4 has a new trick up its sleeve: it can parse images. Need dinner ideas? Just snap a pic of what’s inside your fridge and GPT-4 will tell you what culinary delights you can whip up with the ingredients you have. Scary or nifty? I can’t decide. (Maybe that’s why this feature won’t be fully accessible until more safeguards are in place.)
Besides culinary wizardry, the upgraded bot can also contextualize and summarize large bodies of text and even point out human-made errors or inaccuracies. Plus, it aces most standardized tests with flying colors, scoring in the 93rd percentile for the SAT reading and writing tests and 99th percentile on the bar. Elle Woods might have some competition.
The thing is, you’ll have to shell out $20 a month to be able to access GPT-4. But, with all the money we’ll be saving by downsizing to ad-supported streaming, we can float this additional monthly charge no problem. Totally a smart investment.
Best of the Week
“Siri, please write a client pitch as if you were Ted Lasso giving a pre-game speech.” For all your wildest dreams and more, here’s how to use ChatGPT with Siri on iPhone.
Follow the trends
What do luggage reviews, affordable electric cars, and community projects have in common? See how Google’s customer search insights show how consumer concerns are driving marketing trends.
Our moms may have called us “the golden child” growing up, but now it’s actually true. The Tegan team’s Midas touch landed us two Gold designations at the MUSE Creative Awards and I guess you could say we’re feeling extra fancy about it. Read more about the magic we pulled off here.
Well, we couldn’t manage to snag tickets to Taylor’s Eras tour, but we will take a little comfort in Ryan Adams’ cover of Blank Space. Better than the original? Listen and debate with our official Covers playlist.
More News from the Week.
- Rumor has it that exclusive live videos are coming to Instagram.
- That was fast. Meta is done with NFTs.
- Under the sea: One researcher is spending 100 days underwater for science, what else?
- Uh oh, TikTok. The DOJ is investigating whether the Chinese-owned company used the app to spy on American journalists.
- Lunchables may be headlining at a school cafeteria near you soon, but (thankfully?) with some nutritional tweaks.