When will the streamers’ content river run dry?
Jul 20, 2023
Episode 970

When will the streamers’ content river run dry?

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Plus, the transformative potential of AI.

With the ongoing strikes in Hollywood, the upcoming fall TV season will likely survive on rations of reruns and unscripted content. Once viewers also run out of bingeable streaming series, the streamers might find themselves in a similar position. We’ll hear what Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos had to say about it and get into why the streamers may be better prepared — for now. Plus, we’ll unpack the Biden administration’s war on hidden fees. And, the Women’s World Cup is finally here!

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Join us tomorrow for Economics on Tap. The YouTube livestream starts at 3:30 p.m. Pacific time, 6:30 p.m. Eastern. We’ll have news, drinks, a game and more.

Make Me Smart July 20, 2023 Transcript

Note: Marketplace podcasts are meant to be heard, with emphasis, tone and audio elements a transcript can’t capture. Transcripts are generated using a combination of automated software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting it.

Kimberly Adams 

Hello, I’m Kimberly Adams, welcome back to Make Me Smart where we make today make sense.

Amy Scott

And I’m Amy Scott in for Kai Ryssdal today. Thanks for joining us on this Thursday, July 20.

Kimberly Adams

All right, Amy. So it’s been a bit, but are you ready because we have a new segment.

Amy Scott

I hope I’m ready.

Kimberly Adams 

You totally are!

Amy Scott 

We’re working on a name for it still. But basically Charlton is going to play us a piece of tape or audio or digital media, whatever you want, because we haven’t used tape in ages. Anyway, tangent but we are going to listen to some audio and then we will unpack it on the other side. So let’s listen to the first clip.

Ted Sarandos

Well look, we put some of our upcoming content in the letter. We said in the last call, we produce heavily across all kinds of content, TV, film, unscripted, scripted, local, domestic, English, non-English, all those things, and they’re all true. But it’s besides the point, the real point is we need to get to the strike to a conclusion. so that we can all move forward.

Kimberly Adams 

So that was the Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos in an earnings call this week answering a question about how Netflix’s content is going to hold up, stretch out how they’re going to manage during the dual Hollywood strikes, the writers strike and the actors strike, on that same call. Netflix did mention that they added 6 million paid subscribers after they started crackdown on password sharing, because I guess people just sort of rolled over and took it and complained loudly online, but then went ahead and subscribed anyhow, nevertheless, revenue still came in for the quarter, a little bit shy of what Wall Street analyst said that they thought it was going to be but you know, kind I talked about this the other day, you know how long the streaming services services are going to be able to hold out without new content. They’re in a little bit better shape than sort of the broadcast television networks. But that content is still finite. So you know, I read in that same call that Ted Sarandos talked about growing up in a union family himself, his dad was like in the electric union. He didn’t come out and say, “Hey, I support workers.” But But I thought that was kind of interesting context, trying to be like, “Look, I’m not, you know, just this rich guy making $3 million, which I think he is this year. But you know, a man of the people.” Yeah, that’ll be interesting to see how it affects his negotiating standpoint. So we’ll see how

Amy Scott

Absolutely. All right, should we… Should we roll the next clip?

Joseph Biden

Application fees can be a profit center for landlords, some accept applications for hundreds of potential tenants, far more than they could seriously consider renting to just to collect these fees. And then some charge surprise fees just to pay your rent online, or fees for services that should be included in rent, like mail sorting and pest control. It’s simply not right, we’re gonna move on it.

Amy Scott

Alright, so that was President Biden yesterday talking about steps the administration is hoping to take to crack down on what are called “junk fees” associated with rental housing. And you follow you know, Washington and the White House I’m sure you’ve been following this fight against hidden fees in all kinds of industries, concert tickets, travel banking. So this one is specifically about rental fees, not just application fees, but surprise convenience fees, trash collection or mail fees or inspection fees or move in or move out fees. There was even one mentioned called “January fees” which one, maybe a few landlords were charging in Minnesota. I mean, these things can be really opaque. And I think the idea here is if there if if housing providers are transparent about them, then people can shop around and also maybe save a little money if these things are, have to be, you know, spelled out. So one of the commitments the administration said it received was from platforms like Zillow, apartments.com, affordablehousing.com, to provide info upfront on the fees that are associated with listings so that people can shop around and, you know, sort of “buyer beware.”

Kimberly Adams

Yeah, I mean, it’s one thing when you’re looking for an apartment to, you know, know what those fees are. But once you’re in a place, you know, I feel like landlords know that you’re kind of in a spot because, say somebody charges you have $50 January fee, and you know, it’s BS, but what are you going to do? Move because of this fee? And this is, I feel like how a lot of this sort of nonsense fees that people get end up adding to our cost of living, I was interviewing a guy once about different sort of junk fees baked into cable bills. And he said, you know, the largest corporate theft is not a company’s stealing a lot of money from a single customer. It’s companies stealing pennies from 1000s, or millions of customers. So not enough to make any one person. Yeah, it’s not enough to make any one person do anything about it. But it’s still a nonsense fee that can over time and over a number of people, net them a lot of money. And they just know it’s too much of a hassle for most people to take the time and energy to fight it.

Kimberly Adams 

Yeah, well, it’s interesting, because that clip we played was from President Biden speaking to his Competition Council, which is trying to promote competition. And this is one way that could happen. If people can shop around and they know about these things, there might be some incentives for companies to drop them, or lower them. I mean, just today, my husband found out he’s been charged a fee on his checking account for the last several months, that was just a brand new fee. You know, that’s the kind of thing that can sneak by you if you’re not watching like a hawk.

Amy Scott

And are you fighting it?

Kimberly Adams

Oh, yeah. Yeah, it’s like we’ve had a free checking account for years. Where did this come from? And the guy who was helping us was not totally sure about it. So yeah, we’re fighting it for sure.

Kimberly Adams

So if they don’t remove the fee, will you go to a different bank?

Amy Scott

Oh, God, that would be such a pain. And this to your point right.

Kimberly Adams

Exactly. Right. Enough of a hassle, or are you just gonna, and I think this is what happened with these Netflix subscribers and the password sharing, like it is worth more to people to continue to have uninterrupted access, then the whatever per month, like people, you know, so for example, the other day, I got a delivery and I ordered some oranges, right. And instead, I got a bunch of grapefruit, which I do not eat.

Amy Scott

Hmmm quite a different citrus.

Kimberly Adams

Very different citrus. And my friend was just like, oh, you need to complain, and you should get your money back and this, that and the other. But I was in the middle of doing a whole bunch of different things. And I was like, “You know what, like, my peace and my time is worth more to me than fighting over some citrus.” And so I brought the grapefruit to the office today and somebody else is going to eat them and like that was it. But you know, it’s just like, What is your time worth? Any who.

Kimberly Adams 

Should we play the next clip?

Amy Scott

Oh, yeah,

Kimberly Adams

Yes. Yeah, let’s hear another clip. This one was also super interesting.

Gary Gensler

A lot of the recent buzz has been around such generative AI models, particularly large language models. AI, though, is much broader than just large language models. I believe it’s the most transformative technology of our time, fully on par with the internet, fully on par with the mass production of automobiles. We don’t know for sure where it will head.

Kimberly Adams 

So that was the Securities and Exchange Commission chair Gary Gensler, talking about artificial intelligence at the National Press Club where I used to serve on the board, yay. But I was at this event, they they do these newsmakers luncheons here in Washington DC. And he was talking about artificial intelligence, a little bit about crypto which was in the news at the time, but mainly about how he’s approaching the regulation of AI but also just really trying to convince the crowd that this is a as big of a deal as we think it is. It’s a bigger deal. And he went and through all these different ways that AI can affect not just sort of mis- and disinformation and trick you online the way we’ve been talking. But you know what it means when AI not only gets the data set of photos online, or audio and video and words that are online, but what happens when there are all of these sensors, right? From our phones from our smartwatches, from the internet of things, how plugged in our lives are, those are all data points about us what happens when those get fed into these large learn language models, these learning models and used to create patterns or profiles or things like that, because as much as AI can do with words and generate human like responses from words or realistic responses in video and photo, imagine what it can do if it has all the sensory data about how we move and exist in the world. Right. And it’s a really interesting talk and I, I sort of, yes, you can get paranoid and get worried. But he also seemed pretty hopeful. He was talking about how he was a little bit surprised when he was at MIT, how journalists were so fixated on crypto and the rise of cryptocurrencies, when really the rise of AI is what we should have been paying attention to. And it turns out that was a much is a much bigger deal. Super fascinating and I’m sure we’re gonna have a link to the video on the show notes.

Amy Scott

Did you happen to hear about Levin’s piece yesterday about AI and the impression of of Kai?

Kimberly Adams

Oh, no, I did not, I have to go back and listen to it.

Amy Scott

Yeah, I recommend folks Listen, just I mean, as I felt my panic rising while you were talking I was I was remembering that there was some humor yesterday and Matt got an AI chatbot to to do a pretty scary impression of Kai.

Kimberly Adams

I mean, I’ve mentioned this before, I’m kind of over that because Siri has had a voice that sounds like me for the last two three years now. And it’s sort of like…

Amy Scott

I would much rather that voice I hear. I’m finding that one.

Kimberly Adams

It’s American female voice number two or something like that. I forget. All right. Anyway,

Amy Scott

I’m downloading it as we speak

Kimberly Adams

All right. I think we got one more clip.

Fox Sports Announcer

And Wilkinson makes a run, open in the box, and that’s a goal! New Zealand leads!

Amy Scott

Yes, the World Cup is finally here. Oh my gosh. So exciting. My 12 year old, please don’t ask me about my parenting, got up at 3am to watch that game. Oh, wow. Yeah.

Kimberly Adams

Was it worth it?

Amy Scott

I did not. Oh, well, okay. Yes. According to my child, it was worth it. That was a clip of a beautiful goal from New Zealand’s Hannah Wilkinson. They and here’s a spoiler if you were waiting to watch the game, sorry, but it was New Zealand’s first ever win in the World Cup men or women. Very exciting game. And it’s just the start tonight. Nigeria is playing Canada at 10:30pm ET. That’s a much more reasonable hour in my opinion. Tomorrow, the first USA game versus Vietnam at 9pm Eastern. Super exciting.

Kimberly Adams

Yeah, we’re having a watch party in my building. I’m gonna try to make it but I don’t know. It’s been a week.

Amy Scott

I know even 9pm on a Friday is starting to feel late for me.

Kimberly Adams

Wait, how sad are we that we’re talking about like being tired at nine o’clock on a Friday night? Man.

Amy Scott

I know. I’ve just accepted it.

Kimberly Adams

What is our life? I’m not ready. I’m not ready.

Amy Scott

Okay well you hold on.

Kimberly Adams 

I’ll hold on to pretending like I still have energy at nine o’clock on a Friday night. All right before I feel any older. That is it for us today. We are gonna be back tomorrow with Economics on Tap. Amy and I will both be there. You can join us on our YouTube live stream at 3:30 Pacific, 6:30 Eastern. Hopefully without any surprise fire alarms this time. And please do not forget to sign up for our weekly newsletter where the team shares our reading recommendations, and we’ll let you in on what we’re drinking for happy hour tomorrow. I will tell you my drink tomorrow surprises even me. You can sign up at marketplace.org/newsletters.

Amy Scott

And we had to plan ahead. Make Me Emart is produced by Courtney Bergsieker. Today’s episode is engineered by the wonderful Charlton Thorp, Ellen Rolfes writes our newsletter, our intern is Niloufar Shahbandi.

Kimberly Adams

And Marissa Cabrera is our senior producer and keeps us all in line. Bridget Bodnar is the director of podcasts and Francesca Levy is the executive director of Digital. Happy Thursday!

Amy Scott

Friday Jr.

Kimberly Adams

Oh yeah, I love that Friday Jr.

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