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Great American Conference capsules

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SW OKLAHOMA STATE AT ARKANSAS-MONTICELLO

WHEN 6 p.m.

WHERE Willis “Convoy” Leslie Cotton Boll Stadium, Monticello

RADIO KBHM-FM, 93.7, Monticello

INTERNET uamsports.com

RECORDS SW Oklahoma State 0-1, 0-1; UAM 1-0, 1-0

COACHES Ruzell McCoy (0-1 in first season at SWOSU and overall); Hud Jackson (43-79 in 12th season at UAM and overall)

SERIES SW Oklahoma State leads 6-5

LAST MEETING SWOSU rang up 522 yards of total offense to beat UAM 37-27 on Oct. 1, 2022, at Weatherford, Okla.

NOTEWORTHY Three of the previous five meetings have resulted in losses for UAM. The Boll Weevils, though, have won the past two home matchups in the series, including an 18-16 win in 2021. … The 492-mile trip from Weatherford, Okla., to Monticello is the longest of the season for SWOSU. … The lone win the Bulldogs have had on the Boll Weevils’ field came in 2017 when they won 20-19. … UAM quarterback Demilon Brown accounted for five touchdowns (4 passing, 1 rushing) in the team’s 49-24 victory over Northwestern Oklahoma State last week. The last time the Boll Weevils played the Bulldogs, the senior threw for 302 yards, but he also threw 3 interceptions and was sacked 6 times. … SWOSU last won a game in Arkansas on Oct. 20, 2018, when it beat Arkansas Tech 35-14 in Russellville. … A win would give the Boll Weevils a 2-0 mark for just the third time since 2011. … Running back Ethane Hyche led the Bulldogs with 67 yards on 15 carries and 1 touchdown in their 38-14 loss to Ouachita Baptist in their opening game.

HENDERSON STATE AT SE OKLAHOMA STATE

WHEN 6 p.m.

WHERE Paul Laird Field, Durant, Okla.

RADIO KYXK-FM, 106.7 Gurdon; KVRC-AM, 1240, Arkadelphia; KDEL-FM, 100.9, Arkadelphia; KWPS-FM, 99.7, Hot Springs; KZYP-FM, 104.1, Malvern; KZYP-AM, 1310, Malvern

INTERNET hsusports.com and GoSoutheastern/SESportsNet (streaming)

RECORDS Henderson State 1-0, 1-0; SEOSU 0-1, 0-1

COACHES Scott Maxfield (126-62 in 18th season at Henderson State and overall); Bo Atterberry (33-24 in sixth season at SEOSU and 74-52 in 12th season overall)

SERIES Henderson State leads 26-6

LAST MEETING Korien Burrell and eight times for 119 yards as Henderson State picked up an 31-23 victory on Oct. 1, 2022, at Arkadelphia.

NOTEWORTHY Henderson State has dominated SEOSU since the teams began playing as members of the Great American Conference in 2011. The Reddies have won every matchup during that span. … The Savage Storm haven’t beaten Henderson State since 2009 when they took a 54-38 victory. … Quarterback Andrew Edwards is the reigning GAC Co-Offensive Player of the Week after he accounted for 307 yards of offense and four passing touchdowns in Henderson State’s 41-13 win over East Central (Okla.) last week. The Bentonville native is 8-2 as a starter. … Receiver Marquis Gray, who set team single-season records in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns caught in 2022, had 4 catches for 121 yards and 1 touchdown in SEOSU’s loss at Southern Arkansas on Aug. 31. The Savage Storm turned the ball over three times and allowed five sacks. … The fumble return for a touchdown by Paul Manning last week was the Reddies’ first score of that nature since 2016. … The next two games for SEOSU will be against teams from Oklahoma before it plays at Ouachita Baptist on Sept. 30.

NW OKLAHOMA STATE AT OUACHITA BAPTIST

WHEN 6 p.m.

WHERE Cliff Harris Stadium, Arkadelphia

RADIO KARN-FM, 102.9 (Little Rock); KZNG AM, 1340, KZNG-FM 97.9/105.5 (Hot Springs); KTPB-FM, 98.1, Pine Bluff; KCXY-FM, 95.3, Camden; KNAS-FM, 105.5, Nashville; KHGG-FM, 103.5, Fort Smith, KESA-FM, 100.9, Eureka Springs; KILX-FM, 102.1, De Queen; KQOR-FM, 105.3, Mena

INTERNET obutigers.com

RECORDS NWOSU 0-1, 0-1; OBU 1-0, 1-0

COACHES Ronnie Jones (0-1 in his first season at NWOSU and 11-32 in fourth season overall); Todd Knight (144-99 in 24th season at OBU and 172-131-2 in 30th season overall)

SERIES OBU leads 11-3

LAST MEETING A 21-point second quarter help OBU open a big halftime lead en route to earning a 48-7 win on Oct. 1, 2022, at Alva, Okla.

NOTEWORTHY OBU ran its winning streak in season openers to 16 games last week when it blasted Southwestern Oklahoma State 38-14 at Weatherford, Okla. That win was also the Tigers’ seventh straight over the Bulldogs. … NWOSU is 3-20 over its past 23 games. The Rangers have been outscored 112-24 in two games against OBU during that frame. … Receiver Keemontrae McKnight had 4 catches for 54 yards and 2 touchdowns in his first game with the Tigers since 2021. He missed last season because of injury and used a medical redshirt. … The last time NWOSU beat OBU was in 1996 when it cruised to a 34-3 win. That was the Rangers’ third victory in a row over the Tigers, but they haven’t beaten OBU since. … Quarterback Riley Harms set career highs in passing yards (283) and touchdown passes (4) last week. In 2022, he had 177 yards through the air and tossed two touchdowns against the Rangers. … A victory by OBU, which is ranked No. 8 in this week’s American Football Coaches Association Division II poll, could set up a key battle with unbeaten Southern Arkansas next week.

SOUTHERN NAZARENE AT ARKANSAS TECH

WHEN 6 p.m.

WHERE Thone Stadium, Russellville

RADIO KCJC-FM, 102.3, Russellville

INTERNET arkansastechsports.com

RECORDS Southern Nazarene 0-1, 0-1; Arkansas Tech 0-1, 0-1

COACHES Dustin Hada (6-20 in fourth season at Southern Nazarene and overall); Kyle Shipp (12-22 in fourth season at Arkansas Tech and overall)

SERIES Arkansas Tech leads 8-1

LAST MEETING Arkansas Tech scored 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to pull out a 48-35 victory on Oct. 1, 2022, at Russellville.

NOTEWORTHY The only time Southern Nazarene has beaten Arkansas Tech was in 2019. The Crimson Storm scored 28 of the game’s first 35 points and rolled 41-24 at Bethany, Okla. They’ve given up an average of 44.5 points in back-to-back losses to the Wonder Boys in two games since. … Arkansas Tech used two quarterbacks in a 23-21 loss to Oklahoma Baptist last week. Hunter Loyd was 4 of 12 for 35 yards with 1 interception, while Taye Gatewood went 14 of 20 for 201 yards and 1 score. … Southern Nazarene turned the ball over six times and fell into a huge 35-point hole in the first half during a 53-20 loss to Harding in its season opener. Quarterback Gage Porter completed 6 of 16 passes for 116 yards and 3 interceptions, but he did rush for 117 yards and 2 scores as well. … The Wonder Boys will have another game at home next week against Henderson State. They’ll head to Magnolia to take on Southern Arkansas the following week. … Dustin Hada was the Crimson Storm’s offensive coordinator for four years before becoming head coach in 2020.

OKLAHOMA BAPTIST AT HARDING

WHEN 7 p.m.

WHERE First Security Stadium, Searcy

RADIO KVHU-FM, 95.3, Searcy

INTERNET hardingsports.com

RECORDS Oklahoma Baptist 1-0, 1-0; Harding 1-0, 1-0

COACHES Chris Jensen (40-61 in 11th season at Oklahoma Baptist and overall); Paul Simmons (51-13 in sixth season at Harding and overall)

SERIES Harding leads 7-0

LAST MEETING Harding ran for nearly 300 yards in battling for a 38-23 victory on Oct. 1, 2022, in Searcy.

NOTEWORTHY Harding has never lost in seven meetings with Oklahoma Baptist. Six of those games have been decided by 15 points or more, with the closest game coming in 2015, which Harding won 20-19. … Oklahoma Baptist defensive lineman Brett Karhu was named the Great American Conference Defensive Player of the Week after recording seven tackles, including three sacks, during 23-21 win over Arkansas Tech. … Kicker Luke Watkins was picked as the league’s special teams player of the week following a 3-for-3 outing on field goals. He also had three punts land inside the 20-yard line. … There were only two teams (Harding, Colorado State-Pueblo) in the NCAA Division II that forced six turnovers or more in their season-openers. … Quarterback Aidan Thompson had 197 yards passing with 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions for Oklahoma Baptist last year against Harding. He also had a rushing score. … The Bisons (Harding) have run for six touchdowns or more 34 times since 2010. … The Bison (Oklahoma Baptist) have six rushing scores in their past five games combined.

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Georgia-Ball State: TV, online, radio information

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In its second of four consecutive home games to start the season, top-ranked Georgia faces Ball State from the Mid-American Conference on Saturday.

The Cardinals played at Kentucky last week and led at the end of the first quarter before losing by 30 points. This is the Bulldogs’ second nonconference game before they open SEC play a week from Saturday at home against South Carolina.

Here is some important information regarding how to follow the action:

Date: Saturday, Sept. 9

Time: Noon

Location: Sanford Stadium, Athens

Records: No. 1 Georgia 1-0, Ball State 0-1

Television: SEC Network will televise the game. Taylor Zarzour will handle play-by-play, with Matt Stinchcomb as the analyst and Alyssa Lang as the sideline reporter.

Local radio: The game will be broadcast on the Georgia Bulldogs IMG Sports Network, heard in metro Atlanta on WSB 750/95.5. Scott Howard is handling play-by-play. Eric Zeier is the analyst, and D.J. Shockley is the sideline reporter.

Satellite radio: You can listen on SiriusXM Radio Ch. 190.

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UMG & Deezer’s Streaming Model Devalues Passive

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As the music streaming business matures, the way people listen to music could determine how artists get paid. Sitting back and letting a streaming service choose a song will result in a lower royalty than choosing the song yourself, if this week’s news of a new streaming model is any indication.

It’s not a phobia toward algorithms that’s driving the change. Rather, the approach rewards those artists who create the most active engagement. Songs that play in the background are deemed to be less valuable.

On Tuesday, French music streamer Deezer and Universal Music Group announced a partnership to reinvent how Deezer calculates UMG’s streaming royalties. The partnership will “[reduce] the economic influence of algorithmic programming” and reward “engaging content” with greater royalties, according to the companies’ press releases.

When they say, “algorithmic programming,” they mean the streaming service’s personalized recommendations about what song will play next. That’s a more passive, lean-back approach to listening than hunting and pecking on the app’s user interface to choose a song.

At some point between the launch of internet radio platforms and the present battle for better royalties, passive listening got a bad rap. What has the world come to, some people fret, when dreaded algorithms are deciding what music gets heard? What gives an algorithm such an important role in determining how royalties will be paid?

But algorithms are a common way to stream music. When given an on-demand streaming service, people often let an algorithm do the hard work of picking the next song. A 2021 MusicWatch survey found Spotify Premium users spent 25% of their time in “lean-back” listening rather than “lean-in” listening. That figure rose to 31% for Apple Music users and 32% for Amazon Prime Music users. In all, 48% of time spent listening to music was “lean back” listening on streaming services, broadcast radio and satellite radio.

Algorithms also drive helpful products such as Spotify’s Discover Mode, a promotional tool that allows artists and labels to find new listeners in return for a lower royalty rate. It works by increasing the likelihood a song will be recommended to a listener. It’s popular, too. From the first quarter of 2021 to the first quarter of 2022, Discovery Mode had a 98% customer retention rate, Charlie Hellman, Spotify’s vp/global head of music product said during the company’s 2022 investor day presentation.

When a streaming service does personalization well, it adds great value to a listening experience. Pandora was revolutionary when it launched in 2005 because it had a spooky sense of what people wanted to hear. Its Music Genome Project, a proprietary technology that classifies recordings’ various musical traits, gave it the ability to pick the right songs based on a history of giving other songs a “thumb up” or “thumb down” vote. Pandora took away the effort in digging for songs and provided a much broader catalog than broadcast or satellite radio.

Today’s music streaming services are superior to their predecessors — and their own previous iterations — specifically because they have mastered passive listening. Consider how far Spotify has come since it was launched. Spotify used to recommend songs based on a user’s social network — kind of an “if your friend likes it, you’ll like it” approach to song-picking. But it wasn’t a good listening experience. Spotify’s decision to acquire music intelligence startup The Echo Nest in 2014 was the cornerstone for a new approach to providing a personalized listening experience.

The proliferation of smart speakers only adds to the need for algorithmic listening. About two-thirds of U.S. smart speaker owners wanted to own the devices to discover new songs, according to a 2022 Edison Research survey, and their share of time spent listening to audio through a smart speaker increased 400% over the previous five years. The joy of owning a smart speaker is allowing the device and streaming service to do all the work — it’s passive listening at its best.

Most Americans use their favorite streaming service when doing things around the home such as cleaning, relaxing, cooking, eating and entertaining guests, according to the same MusicWatch study. Most people stream music when exercising. More than half of people also use their favorite streaming service when driving, although satellite and broadcast radio were preferred in the car over streaming. Streaming service Songza, acquired by Google in 2014, was built on the premise that people chose music for moods and activities. That approach to curation has since been adopted by most — if not all — streaming services.

The UMG-Deezer partnership is evidence that background listening is on its way to getting a demotion. Deezer will remove tracks of white noise, which account for 2% of its streams, from the royalty pool. That leaves more royalties for professional artists who depend on streaming to earn a living. Throughout the year, UMG has been calling out “functional music” — a term that has come to mean low-cost or generic music built for moods or activities — and drawing a distinction between artists who draw people to streaming services and sounds that people play in the background.

Taylor Swift and Drake may rule the charts, but functional music is mainstream, too. Of U.S. music streamers who listen to playlists, many of them listen to playlists for white noise (36%), rain sounds (45%) and relaxation (61%), according to a 2023 MIDiA Research survey. In recent years, streaming services have broadened their playlists and radio stations to address the fact that consumers want a variety of sounds.

Artists with small followings will get less, too. Deezer will “boost” the royalties of “professional” artists with at least 1,000 streams per month by a minimum of 500 unique listeners. That will relegate hobbyists and artists early in their career development to a different tier. Exactly how many artists will be affected isn’t clear, but Deezer says just 2% of artists on the platform have more than 1,000 monthly unique listeners.

UMG and Deezer aren’t exactly taking an innovative stance, however. The music industry — at least in the United States — has already determined that active, on-demand listening is more valuable than passive, non-interactive listening. The Deezer-UMG partnership merely codifies for an on-demand service what is standard at internet radio. In the United States, non-interactive internet radio streams from the likes of Pandora pay 0.24 cents per ad-supported stream (and 0.3 cents per subscription streams). That’s less than any on-demand stream from a premium streaming service such as Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube Music.

In effect, a streaming service pays less for non-interactive streams because it gives the listener less value than on-demand services. To qualify for the lower royalty rate, a non-interactive streaming service cannot have the same robust features as an interactive one. At Deezer, a listener can stream any song from any artist any number of times. They can listen to playlists and build playlists, too. They can listen to songs shared by friends through SMS or social media. That’s all lean-in listening, and it’s more valuable because people will pay $11 a month to do it.

Until now, on-demand services’ standard pro-rata model hasn’t separated passive from active listening. When labels negotiated licensing deals with streaming services, they have always treated one stream the same as any other stream. A stream from a user-curated playlist is treated the same as a stream from an algorithmically created radio station. Whether the listener actively hits the play button to listen to a particular track isn’t taken into account. Right or wrong, that’s how the pie has been divvied up.

A couple of decades into the life of the pro-rata system, Deezer shows there is a greater willingness to treat active listening differently than passive listening. MIDiA Research’s Mark Mulligan called this demotion “a very welcome and long overdue move” that will “disincentivis[e] the commodification of consumption by rewarding active listening.” There’s certainly a logical argument to be made here: The artists people actively seek out arguably provide the most value — give the streaming service the most foot traffic, so to speak — while less popular artists play the important but less financially valuable role of giving breadth and depth to music catalogs.

Time will tell if and how other streaming services follow Deezer’s lead. An alternative already exists: In 2022, Warner Music Group adopted the user-centric model that SoundCloud rolled out to independent artists the prior year. That system pays royalties based on an individual subscriber’s listening rather than pooling all subscribers’ fees into a larger pool. So, a subscriber who listens to out-of-the-mainstream or independent artists is assured their money is not going to popular artists.

Over the next few years, labels and services are likely to experiment with different approaches to calculating streaming royalties. But regardless of how the dust settles, streaming services and rights holders should respect what passive listening brings to their listeners.

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What’s Love Got to Do with Christianity?

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Christianity.com

There are a number of important biblical passages about love. While there are many New Testament passages pertinent to any discussion about love (e.g., John 3:16, 1 Corinthians 13, or 1 John 4:8-10), a handful of other passages offer pictures of what we might call a basic biblical notion of love.

Many of these passages are associated with another biblical topic: the law. These associations are crucial to an understanding of love in the Bible because, as we will see, love is not fully realized apart from a reordering of our desires.

From Chaos to Order and Back Again

Genesis 1:1-2:3 has often been discussed as part of the creation-evolution debate. While I do not wish to diminish the importance of a Christian self-understanding that is grounded in a biblical rather than Darwinian understanding of origins, the discussions related to the creation-evolution debate can tend to overshadow other important aspects of the creation narrative.

For instance, Genesis 1:1-2:3 highlights at least three of God’s attributes: sovereignty, wisdom, and benevolence: 

1. God is sovereign. He has full, unrivaled authority over his creation. God speaks. The various elements of creation obey. There is no resistance. He exercises his authority without constraint or opposition.

2. God is wise. His authority does not result in more chaos. The “formless and void” world moves from chaos to order, not from chaos to a new sort of chaos. God is not an all-powerful ruler with a half-baked plan for the world. He has an order in mind and institutes that order through wisdom (Proverbs 3:19-20).

3. God is benevolent or good. The finished creation demonstrates God’s abundant, kind provision to humankind and, ultimately, his desire to see all of creation flourish.

The pain and struggle we often experience were nowhere to be found before the Fall. God’s goodness worked with his wisdom and sovereignty to create a harmonious world.

To the extent that Genesis 1:1-2:3 has been treated in relative isolation as part of the creation-evolution debate, we can also tend to miss the significance of what happens in Genesis 3:1-24.

The serpent convinces the woman that God is not benevolent, wise, or sovereign:

1. God is holding out on humanity. The serpent’s initial question is difficult to translate but should likely be understood as an exasperated assertion framed as a question.

The force is arguably something like: “God may as well starve you if he is prohibiting you from eating the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden.”

As I note in Trajectories, “The serpent has accused God of being less-than fully benevolent in keeping the human couple from eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

God’s paradise is a prison designed to keep humanity comfortable and under God’s thumb. He is not benevolent but is seeking to limit human flourishing.

2. The serpent diminishes God’s wisdom. As the “wisest” or “craftiest” of the beasts God made, the serpent is well-positioned to make this argument.

After raising questions about God’s benevolence, the serpent tells the woman that humans can be “like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5).

The forbidden fruit is the key to wisdom as the woman recognizes when she makes her own judgment that “the tree was to be desired to make one wise” (3:6).

3. Throughout the narrative, the serpent assumes that God can be opposed. Unlike the various elements of creation that respond to the word of God, the serpent encourages rebellion.

God’s command is not the final word but an ambiguous order from a fragile Sovereign who does not want humanity to become his rival.

All that the serpent says, of course, is false. When the human couple disobeys God, they disrupt the order God had established at creation.

The world falls back into a chaotic state in which ambiguity reigns because the relationship between God, humankind, and creation is skewed.

Humanity no longer occupies an ordered paradise but is thrust into a threatening environment in which the present is difficult and the future unsure.

Disordered Love

In a world where toil and pain have become the norm, humankind must learn how to relate to God, others, and creation to survive and thrive. In the midst of disorder, humans looked out at the world with fallen eyes.

Both the threats and opportunities were abundant. Having split from God, humanity made its own judgments about what was “good” (Genesis 6:1-2; cf. 1:9, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31). Those judgments reflected the disordering of love.

Augustine suggests, “Neither is luxury the fault of lovely and charming objects, but of the heart that inordinately loves sensual pleasures, to the neglect of temperance, which attaches us to objects more lovely in their spirituality, and more delectable by their incorruptibility.”

He goes on to conclude, “he who inordinately loves the good which any nature possesses, even though he obtain it, himself becomes evil in the good, and wretched because deprived of a greater good.”

In other words, disordered love is corrosive even when it is aimed at what is good and beautiful. Love needs to be rightly ordered if it is to allow us to flourish.

Rightly Ordered Love

In Matthew 22, an expert in the Mosaic law asks Jesus to identify the greatest commandment. Jesus responds, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend on all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40). Jesus’ statement in Matthew 22 quotes Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18.

In Deuteronomy, love involves loyalty. It is not simply a subjective feeling about God but a commitment to Him that shapes the ways we see the world and determine to act within it. First and foremost, we are to give our full, uncompromised allegiance to the Lord.

It is not so much that we cannot exhibit love without first loving God but that without a primary commitment to the Lord, our love will never be rightly ordered.

Our love is expressed in obedience (1 John 5:3). We realign our lives with God’s order and, in doing so, imitate the love he showed us in sending his Son (1 John 4:10-11).

Loving our neighbor is an extension of our commitment to God. As we love our neighbor, we demonstrate not only our understanding of what God has done for us but our willingness to conform our lives to the way of God’s love.

God’s love is not selfish. It is self-giving. Just as Christ “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped” (Philippians 2:6) or to be used to His advantage, we recognize that we are freed from selfish ambition and self-centeredness.

We can relate to others in ways that recognize that our own safety, security, and prosperity are not things to be grasped. They are resources we can employ to demonstrate God’s love to those around us.

What Is Love?

Love connects us deeply to the world because love is a recognition of reality as it really is. Rightly ordered love orients us to the world so that we understand and act in ways aligned with God’s order, which is evident despite the world’s brokenness.

Love is the demonstration of our devotion to and knowledge of God (1 John 4:7). It is not simply knowledge about God. It is knowledge born from experience.

We have tasted and seen that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8). We have experienced God’s love and actively respond to it by following the pattern God has set for us.

Meditate on unfailing love from Jeremiah 31:

rong>For further reading:

What Is Love?

Why Do Love and Forgiveness Have to Go Hand-in-Hand?

Why Does God Love Me?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Anna Frank


James SpencerJames Spencer earned his Ph.D. in Theological Studies from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He believes discipleship will open up opportunities beyond anything God’s people could accomplish through their own wisdom. James has published multiple works, including Christian Resistance: Learning to Defy the World and Follow Christ, Useful to God: Eight Lessons from the Life of D. L. Moody, Thinking Christian: Essays on Testimony, Accountability, and the Christian Mind, and Trajectories: A Gospel-Centered Introduction to Old Testament Theology to help believers look with eyes that see and listen with ears that hear as they consider, question, and revise assumptions hindering Christians from conforming more closely to the image of Christ. In addition to serving as the president of the D. L. Moody Center, James is the host of “Useful to God,” a weekly radio broadcast and podcast, a member of the faculty at Right On Mission, and an adjunct instructor with the Wheaton College Graduate School.  

Related podcast:

The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.

So when sin is not being confronted, or even viewed as sin at all, it’s time to address it with the hope of gently helping to restore believers caught in its web.

Here are 10 sins that often go overlooked in Christian community.

Stock Footage & Music Courtesy of Soundstripe.com Thumbnail by Getty Images

This article originally appeared on Christianity.com. For more faith-building resources, visit

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UMG & Deezer’s Streaming Model Devalues Passive Listens. Is…

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As the music streaming business matures, the way people listen to music could determine how artists get paid. Sitting back and letting a streaming service choose a song will result in a lower royalty than choosing the song yourself, if this week’s news of a new streaming model is any indication.

It’s not a phobia toward algorithms that’s driving the change. Rather, the approach rewards those artists who create the most active engagement. Songs that play in the background are deemed to be less valuable.

On Tuesday, French music streamer Deezer and Universal Music Group announced a partnership to reinvent how Deezer calculates UMG’s streaming royalties. The partnership will “[reduce] the economic influence of algorithmic programming” and reward “engaging content” with greater royalties, according to the companies’ press releases.

When they say, “algorithmic programming,” they mean the streaming service’s personalized recommendations about what song will play next. That’s a more passive, lean-back approach to listening than hunting and pecking on the app’s user interface to choose a song.

At some point between the launch of internet radio platforms and the present battle for better royalties, passive listening got a bad rap. What has the world come to, some people fret, when dreaded algorithms are deciding what music gets heard? What gives an algorithm such an important role in determining how royalties will be paid?

But algorithms are a common way to stream music. When given an on-demand streaming service, people often let an algorithm do the hard work of picking the next song. A 2021 MusicWatch survey found Spotify Premium users spent 25% of their time in “lean-back” listening rather than “lean-in” listening. That figure rose to 31% for Apple Music users and 32% for Amazon Prime Music users. In all, 48% of time spent listening to music was “lean back” listening on streaming services, broadcast radio and satellite radio.

Algorithms also drive helpful products such as Spotify’s Discover Mode, a promotional tool that allows artists and labels to find new listeners in return for a lower royalty rate. It works by increasing the likelihood a song will be recommended to a listener. It’s popular, too. From the first quarter of 2021 to the first quarter of 2022, Discovery Mode had a 98% customer retention rate, Charlie Hellman, Spotify’s vp/global head of music product said during the company’s 2022 investor day presentation.

When a streaming service does personalization well, it adds great value to a listening experience. Pandora was revolutionary when it launched in 2005 because it had a spooky sense of what people wanted to hear. Its Music Genome Project, a proprietary technology that classifies recordings’ various musical traits, gave it the ability to pick the right songs based on a history of giving other songs a “thumb up” or “thumb down” vote. Pandora took away the effort in digging for songs and provided a much broader catalog than broadcast or satellite radio.

Today’s music streaming services are superior to their predecessors — and their own previous iterations — specifically because they have mastered passive listening. Consider how far Spotify has come since it was launched. Spotify used to recommend songs based on a user’s social network — kind of an “if your friend likes it, you’ll like it” approach to song-picking. But it wasn’t a good listening experience. Spotify’s decision to acquire music intelligence startup The Echo Nest in 2014 was the cornerstone for a new approach to providing a personalized listening experience.

The proliferation of smart speakers only adds to the need for algorithmic listening. About two-thirds of U.S. smart speaker owners wanted to own the devices to discover new songs, according to a 2022 Edison Research survey, and their share of time spent listening to audio through a smart speaker increased 400% over the previous five years. The joy of owning a smart speaker is allowing the device and streaming service to do all the work — it’s passive listening at its best.

Most Americans use their favorite streaming service when doing things around the home such as cleaning, relaxing, cooking, eating and entertaining guests, according to the same MusicWatch study. Most people stream music when exercising. More than half of people also use their favorite streaming service when driving, although satellite and broadcast radio were preferred in the car over streaming. Streaming service Songza, acquired by Google in 2014, was built on the premise that people chose music for moods and activities. That approach to curation has since been adopted by most — if not all — streaming services.

The UMG-Deezer partnership is evidence that background listening is on its way to getting a demotion. Deezer will remove tracks of white noise, which account for 2% of its streams, from the royalty pool. That leaves more royalties for professional artists who depend on streaming to earn a living. Throughout the year, UMG has been calling out “functional music” — a term that has come to mean low-cost or generic music built for moods or activities — and drawing a distinction between artists who draw people to streaming services and sounds that people play in the background.

Taylor Swift and Drake may rule the charts, but functional music is mainstream, too. Of U.S. music streamers who listen to playlists, many of them listen to playlists for white noise (36%), rain sounds (45%) and relaxation (61%), according to a 2023 MIDiA Research survey. In recent years, streaming services have broadened their playlists and radio stations to address the fact that consumers want a variety of sounds.

Artists with small followings will get less, too. Deezer will “boost” the royalties of “professional” artists with at least 1,000 streams per month by a minimum of 500 unique listeners. That will relegate hobbyists and artists early in their career development to a different tier. Exactly how many artists will be affected isn’t clear, but Deezer says just 2% of artists on the platform have more than 1,000 monthly unique listeners.

UMG and Deezer aren’t exactly taking an innovative stance, however. The music industry — at least in the United States — has already determined that active, on-demand listening is more valuable than passive, non-interactive listening. The Deezer-UMG partnership merely codifies for an on-demand service what is standard at internet radio. In the United States, non-interactive internet radio streams from the likes of Pandora pay 0.24 cents per ad-supported stream (and 0.3 cents per subscription streams). That’s less than any on-demand stream from a premium streaming service such as Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube Music.

In effect, a streaming service pays less for non-interactive streams because it gives the listener less value than on-demand services. To qualify for the lower royalty rate, a non-interactive streaming service cannot have the same robust features as an interactive one. At Deezer, a listener can stream any song from any artist any number of times. They can listen to playlists and build playlists, too. They can listen to songs shared by friends through SMS or social media. That’s all lean-in listening, and it’s more valuable because people will pay $11 a month to do it.

Until now, on-demand services’ standard pro-rata model hasn’t separated passive from active listening. When labels negotiated licensing deals with streaming services, they have always treated one stream the same as any other stream. A stream from a user-curated playlist is treated the same as a stream from an algorithmically created radio station. Whether the listener actively hits the play button to listen to a particular track isn’t taken into account. Right or wrong, that’s how the pie has been divvied up.

A couple of decades into the life of the pro-rata system, Deezer shows there is a greater willingness to treat active listening differently than passive listening. MIDiA Research’s Mark Mulligan called this demotion “a very welcome and long overdue move” that will “disincentivis[e] the commodification of consumption by rewarding active listening.” There’s certainly a logical argument to be made here: The artists people actively seek out arguably provide the most value — give the streaming service the most foot traffic, so to speak — while less popular artists play the important but less financially valuable role of giving breadth and depth to music catalogs.

Time will tell if and how other streaming services follow Deezer’s lead. An alternative already exists: In 2022, Warner Music Group adopted the user-centric model that SoundCloud rolled out to independent artists the prior year. That system pays royalties based on an individual subscriber’s listening rather than pooling all subscribers’ fees into a larger pool. So, a subscriber who listens to out-of-the-mainstream or independent artists is assured their money is not going to popular artists.

Over the next few years, labels and services are likely to experiment with different approaches to calculating streaming royalties. But regardless of how the dust settles, streaming services and rights holders should respect what passive listening brings to their listeners.

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Georgia Tech-South Carolina State: TV, online, radio

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After letting a lead slip away with a second-half collapse in the season opener, Georgia Tech faces what might be a welcome sight in an FCS program.

South Carolina State has lost both of its games this season, having been outscored by Jackson State and Charlotte 61-10. After playing the Bulldogs, the Yellow Jackets face consecutive road games, against Ole Miss and Wake Forest. Saturday’s game provides a potential boost ahead of playing those opponents.

Here is some important information regarding how to follow the action:

Date: Saturday, Sept. 9

Time: 1 p.m. ET

Location: Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta

Records: Georgia Tech 0-1, South Carolina State 0-2

Television: The game will be livestreamed on ACC Network Extra and ESPN-Plus. Chuckie Kempf will handle play-by-play, with Forrest Conoly as the analyst.

Local radio: The game will be broadcast on the Georgia Tech Sports Network, heard in metro Atlanta this week on 680 AM/93.7 FM. Andy Demetra is handling play-by-play. Joe Hamilton is the analyst, and Chris Mooneyham is the sideline reporter.

Satellite radio: You can listen on SiriusXM Ch. 204.

Online: RamblinWreck.com.



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Tohono O’odham partners with wireless internet

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Tohono O’odham citizens now have access to wireless internet options thanks to a partnership the Tohono O’odham Utility Authority established with Baicells Technologies to provide high-speed broadband connectivity to villages across the largely rural Tohono O’odham Nation. 

“Understanding our remote location and lack of service by any existing carriers, we knew it was up to us to address this issue of broadband access,” Kristan Johnson, the operations manager for the Tohono O’odham Utility Authority (TOUA), said in a press release. TOUA has been offering internet services since 1998. 

The Tohono O’odham Nation is 4,460 square miles, about the size of Connecticut, and roughly 28,000 Tohono O’odham people live on its tribal lands in southwestern Arizona. 

The Tohono O’odham Nation is divided into 11 districts that are made up of 72 villages. Due to the rural conditions, the tribe has faced challenges bringing access to high-speed internet in many parts of tribal land.

The tribe has largely relied on simple WiFi connectivity set up in limited locations, and residents relied on internet speeds as low as 2 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload, which often left the community unable to access critical service. 

With the help of federal funding, the TOUA has been able to overhaul and upgrade its infrastructure, and has been able to build out its network plan through wireless connection.

TOUA reached out to Baicells to partner with them to get the network established, but according to the press release, the tribe is the one behind the wheel because they planned, deployed and now operate the network.

“We have experience and a track record of solving these types of challenges for our communities,” Johnson said. “A private network that we can manage on our own was a great fit since we are very accustomed to operating our own infrastructure.” 

The TOUA already operates key utility infrastructures like electricity and water, Johnson said. 

“In today’s age, internet access is just another utility,” she added.

The tribe launched its project to build the wireless network in 2020, according to the press release, and started testing Baicells technology in 2021. Since then, the tribe successfully deployed a dual-band private 4G LTE network. 

Johnson said that they are still working to build out a fiber optic network, which is expected to be completed in 2024, and the wireless system allows customers to have access to the internet until then.

Workers prepare to install a wireless internet antenna on a home in a Tohono O’odham community. Photo courtesy of Baicells

The Tohono O’odham Nation has approximately 50 base stations set up across its land, and it has the potential to serve an estimated 3,000 homes. 

“The primary objective of this initiative is to enhance communications and access to content and educational services, with the high-speed connectivity provided by this network,” Minchul Ho, Americas CEO at Baicells, said in a press release. 

“Baicells core mission is empowering unserved communities and bridging the digital divide with affordable solutions,” Ho added. “The success of the partnership with the TOUA showcases the company’s dedication and commitment to this mission.”

According to Baicells, the Tohono O’odham Nation is able to maintain tribal sovereignty over its network infrastructure by leveraging a private LTE network. 

The Tohono O’odham Utility Authority was interested in getting service across the community sooner rather than later, said Tony Eigen, vice president of global marketing for Baicells.

“They knew they could do this with a wireless kind of network,” Eigen said, and Baicells is helping the Tribe get connected through the wireless technology they provide.

Eigen said Baicells went out to the Tohono O’odham Nation this summer to work with the TOUA to set up more towers in their network, and the tribes’ choice to go wireless gave them the ability to get their communities connected faster.

Since the project launched, Eigen said they’ve been able to cover a large portion of the community, unlike fiber optics, which takes longer to build out and costs much more.

Customers will have a transmitter set up on their house that talks to the radio transmitters and then broadcasts WiFi in the house, Eigden said, which is vastly different from digging and laying down fiber cables. 

For example, a mile of fiber costs roughly $5,000, but connecting a similar amount of endpoints using wireless networks costs only about $500.

“The cost is very much based on the population density that you’re trying to serve,” he added. “There is major differences in those two approaches.”

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Talk Show/Radio Content Producer – WJCT Public Media

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On the JME web page:
Start your Jacksonville Music Experience today by clicking the menu button below or LISTEN NOW on the menu at the top of the page and choose a station.

On the WJCT app:
Get the WJCT Public Media app (on iOS or Android) and listen live on your smartphone or tablet.

In Your Car:
Besides finding JME HD channels on the radio dial at 89.9 HD2, HD3 or HD4 in Jacksonville, you can also use the WJCT Public Media app via Bluetooth, through Apple CarPlay (CarPlay enabled stereos only) or directly through a USB cable or aux audio adapter.

On your smart speaker: (Amazon Alexa or Google Home)
On Alexa, you can listen with the WJCT Alexa Skills, the TuneIn skill, or the iHeart Radio skill.

The skills need to be activated on your Alexa before they can be used. To enable an Alexa skill for the first time, say “Alexa, enable Skill Name” (i.e. WJCT Classical 24, WJCT Anthology, WJCT Electro Lounge Radio)

After you’ve enabled the skill, then you can say:
Classical 24: “Alexa, play WJCT Classical 24”
Anthology: “Alexa, play WJCT Anthology”
Electro Lounge Radio: “Alexa, play WJCT Electro Lounge Radio”

To play on Alexa with TuneIn say:
“Alexa, play WJCT The Independent on TuneIn”, “Alexa, play WJCT Classical 24 on TuneIn” or “Alexa, play WJCT Anthology on TuneIn”

To play on Alexa with iHeart Radio say:
“Alexa, play WJCT The Independent on iHeart Radio”, “Alexa, play WJCT Classical 24 on iHeart Radio” or “Alexa, play WJCT Anthology on iHeart Radio”

On Google Home you can listen with the TuneIn skill or the iHeart Radio skill.

To play on Google Home with TuneIn say:
“Hey Google, play WJCT The Independent on TuneIn”, “Hey Google, play WJCT Classical 24 on TuneIn” or “Hey Google, play WJCT Anthology on TuneIn”

To play on Google Home with iHeart Radio say:
“Hey Google, play WJCT The Independent on iHeart Radio”, “Hey Google, play WJCT Classical 24 on iHeart Radio” or “Hey Google, play WJCT Anthology on iHeart Radio”

For other methods of playing JME digital audio streams, see the WJCT Public Media FAQ page.

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ESPN vs Charter could be end of the table bundle … and tele…

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By OutKick’s Clay Travis

In the summer of 2014, the cable and satellite bundle peaked. One hundred million households were subscribed to ESPN, the most successful channel in the history of cable, and the apex of the greatest business in the history of media had been reached.

But no one knew it.

Cable, satellite, and media executives were all blissfully unaware of what was coming. Fox Sports FS1 had launched the prior year — yours truly appeared on the very first show in the history of the network, a 2013 college football preview show. In the summer of 2014 the SEC Network would make its debut. The SEC Network was, in fact, the single most successful cable and satellite channel debut in the history of the cable industry. With the launch of the SEC Network, ESPN, the channel’s owner, stood at the pinnacle of its power, the company seemed indestructible, a gold plated money minting machine.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE SPORTS COVERAGE ON FOXNEWS.COM

Billions of dollars in profits flowed off ESPN each year, enabling all of Disney to flourish. It was the crown jewel of the company, a profit spigot, the Titanic of the cable fleet.

But an iceberg loomed ahead.

And almost no one saw it coming.

The era of cable and satellite cord cutting began in the fall of 2014.

Quietly, at first.

So quietly, in fact, that most at ESPN and in the cable industry refused to acknowledge what was occurring. A few million here, a few million there, slowly a trickle turning into a stream and then the stream turning into a river and before long there was a flood of cord cutters.

If they made a movie about the cord cutting disaster — and at some point they might — a quant would be the hero. Someone deep in the recesses of ESPN’s business department who looked at the cable revenue spigot and started to realize what was going on — the greatest business in the history of media was sputtering, just as ESPN spent greater and greater sums of money on sports rights. That person probably jumped and waved their arms, begged ESPN executives not to keep spending money on sports rights like drunken sailors.

And that person was summarily ignored.

DANIIL MEDVEDEV TURNS TO ‘PIRATE WEBSITES’ TO WATCH US OPEN MATCHES AMID DISNEY-CHARTER DISPUTE

By the summer of 2023, just nine years after peak cable was hit in 2014, only 70 million households were paying for cable or satellite subscriptions. ESPN had lost 30% of its business, just as the cost for sports rights loomed larger and larger.

And then last week, inexplicably, things got worse. Charter Communications, home to 15 million cable and satellite subscribers, refused to bend the knee to ESPN’s price increase demands and cut the channel — along with ABC and all other Disney properties — off air just as Florida prepared to kick off against Utah on the opening Thursday night of college football.

And the games remained off air all throughout Week Zero and into the first full weekend of college football.

Now, the NFL season looms for ESPN, the Jets against the Bills, Aaron Rodgers vs. Josh Allen on Monday Night Football and still there’s no resolution in sight.

How did ESPN’s business die?

Gradually and then all at once.

Nine years ago ESPN was in 100 million households, without Charter they are in around 55 million households. In the space of nine years, ESPN has lost almost half its audience, half its business, half its subscription revenue.

This is a massive media story, one of the biggest of our lives. And it’s not just ESPN. ESPN just stands to lose the most because it had the most lucrative business model in cable. It’s all of the cable and satellite bundle, the entire cable neighborhood is on fire.

As much as you’ve read about this ESPN-Charter battle so far? It should be ten times that much. Because this is how the free ride that most of us sports fans have grown used to comes to a screeching halt. This is bad, very bad, if you’re a sports fan, a sports media employee, a sports executive or an employee of a sports team, this is asteroid hitting the planet bad, a dinosaur level extinction event.

Whether you’re a star athlete, an owner, or just a fan, if you care who wins games or simply enjoy watching those games, we’re all about to have to pay a ton more for that privilege.

Put simply, everyone is f—ed.

Including, potentially, everyone in all of media, not just those of us in sports media.

Because the golden cable cash spigot has suddenly run out of coins and if sports collapses, the entire cable bundle may collapse with it.

How do we begin to figure out what comes next?

Well, we first have to start at the beginning, when ESPN was founded in 1979 in Bristol, Connecticut. Few knew it then, but ESPN was destined to become the greatest cash producing business in the history of media. 

Some people think of me as anti-ESPN, but that’s not accurate. I used to be one of the biggest ESPN fans on the planet. Because I did and still do love sports to an unhealthy degree. Before Keith Olbermann decided men should become women’s sports champions, he, alongside Dan Patrick, were the best tag team of sports anchors in my life. Every morning as I got ready for school I would sit on the couch in my Nashville, Tennessee home and watch SportsCenter as I shoveled cereal in my mouth. If you’d told me in 1993 that at some point Keith Olbermann or Dan Patrick would have ever known my name, I would have walked on air for a week, a month even.

Because when I was fourteen years old, I was convinced that Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann were two of the coolest dudes on the planet.

And it wasn’t just that duo. Chris Berman, Tom Jackson, Linda Cohn, Stuart Scott, these ESPN anchors were all legends in my mind.

Because I was old enough to remember an era when our family didn’t have cable. When you got a couple of minutes of crappy local sports highlights, when you had to get the newspapers and, oh no!, your team was on the west coast and you’d have to go the entire day waiting to see if they won or not. Hell, I listened to games on the radio. And not because I happened to be in the car on a long ride while a game was going on, because that was the only way I knew to hear a game live. There was no option to watch it on TV, not even on pay-per-view.

If you haven’t ever found yourself squinting at the bottom of the TV screen to see the score ticker go by on CNN Headline News or ESPN, you really have no idea what I’m talking about.

But for sports fans, ESPN in those days was the oasis in a media desert, our salvation, nirvana for the sports fan soul.

I didn’t understand ESPN’s business back in those days, but I understood the raw concept of supply and demand. ESPN was selling what I wanted. And chances are it was selling what you wanted too. And what did we want? The games. (And the highlights, at least back then).

Over the decades, ESPN ran a game plan that allowed it to become the most lucrative media company in American history. They used our cable and satellite subscription fees — our cable bill — to buy up sports rights and as their cable and satellite subscription revenue grew they bought better and better sports rights. And when the cable and satellite companies balked at paying ESPN more, what did they do? They got fans to threaten to leave the cable and satellite companies so that the cable and satellite companies always buckled and ended up paying more.

We were the addicts and ESPN had the games that sated our need.

It was a hell of a business, like I said, the best business in the history of American media.

By the fall of 2014, ESPN was making around $6 a month per subscriber, at $6 a month x 100 million subscribers that means ESPN was making around $7 billion a year. Toss in another couple of billion in advertising and we’re talking about a $9 billion, roughly, revenue enterprise.

A quick refresher for those of you who don’t understand the cable and satellite business — every channel has a cost per month. So while you might pay $100 a month for a cable or satellite subscription, each channel costs a different amount. Some channels cost a quarter a month, others a dollar, ESPN was far and away the most expensive channel, costing several dollars a month for every single cable and satellite subscriber, all 100 million of us at the peak in 2014. And ESPN used all the money they made off cable and satellite subscriptions to buy up sports rights. The better the sports rights, the more they could charge, it was a phenomenal business, a fly wheel of cash.

Presently, ESPN spends roughly nine billion a year on sports rights. The company has committed, and this is before they have to pony up for new rights for the NBA and new rights for the college football playoff, $45 billion in sports rights fees through 2027. $45 billion! With tens of billions more still to come for the NBA and college football, ESPN wants to keep both.

The biggest and most expensive rights packages presently? That’s the college football playoff and the NFL’s Monday Night Football package, each of which airs exclusively on ESPN’s cable channel. ESPN pays $2.7 billion per year for Monday Night Football, a gargantuan sum of money for less than twenty games a year. That’s well over $100 million per NFL game.

But the flaw in the business, and all businesses have flaws, was this — most people paying for ESPN, that is, most of the 100 million subscribers in 2014, weren’t actually sports fans. Yet they still paid $100 a year for ESPN. Your Aunt Gladys, who hadn’t watched a sporting event in decades, paid the same every month for ESPN as you did. Only she didn’t know. Because your cable bill was never itemized. You knew what HBO cost a month, because it was extra, a premium channel — and your mom and dad, like my mom and dad, may well have refused to pay extra for it, leaving you gorging on the free previews back in the day — but you never knew what ESPN or TBS or TNT or AMC or CNN or Fox News cost because the cable cost wasn’t itemized by channel, it was buried in your cable and satellite bundle, in your monthly bill.

Now let’s pause for a moment and go back in time to 2014, when the cable and satellite bundle peaked.

Do you know what else happened in 2014 in the world of media?

“House of Cards” season two debuted on Netflix.

Do you remember “House of Cards?” Kevin Spacey played a diabolical South Carolina politician hellbent on the pursuit of power. It was a great show, but it was also an incredible gamble, because it was the first ever Netflix original show. Up to that point, Netflix had made all of its money by buying up everyone else’s reruns and bundling them in its streaming service. I still remember how stunned I was, as I sat bleary eyed up in front of my family’s first flat screen TV, and watched each “House of Cards,” episode keep playing, one after the other unless I stopped each new episode, the weekly scheduled show was no more, Netflix released entire seasons all at once.

Let’s consider the stature of two media companies back in 2014 when “House of Cards” season two debuted — Disney, ESPN’s parent company, and Netflix, which just released season two of its first ever original series, were widely divergent in their power.

Disney stock traded at $84 a share when season two of Netflix debuted in 2014. Netflix, meanwhile, traded at $57 a share. Their market caps were wildly different, but let’s fast forward to today, Netflix is presently $445 a share. That means in the past nine years, your initial Netflix stock purchase has increased by roughly 8x. Meanwhile, Disney is currently $81 a share, a LOWER price than it was nine years ago.

Netflix, which was a $25 billion market cap stock in 2014 is now worth just shy of $200 billion and Disney is a $148 billion market cap stock, roughly the same as it was in 2014.

How did this happen?

Streaming.

It turns out “House of Cards,” star Frank Underwood’s biggest kill wasn’t on screen at all, it was in the media business. 

Netflix, which soon had many competitors in the streaming space, destroyed the cable and satellite bundle.

In 2014, I paid for one streaming service, Netflix. Now, and I shudder to even lay all these out, the Travis household is subscribed to what feels like every streaming service on the planet. And we still have cable too, you’re welcome, Comcast. The Travis household is subscribed to Amazon Prime — I think we actually have two of these accounts because I lost our password and it was either get divorced or just have my wife sign up a new account because I couldn’t track down the old password — Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+, Peacock, Apple+, Paramount, I still think we pay for the WWE Network somehow, basically if you have created a streaming service we pay for it.

Disney made tens of billions on the cable and satellite bundle. Do you know what Disney has made off streaming so far? They’ve lost $11 billion.

Let me repeat that, they’ve lost $11 billion. I’m not a math genius, but when you have to make $11 billion to get back to zero, that doesn’t seem like a great business to be in.

And the same is true for every American company that has entered streaming except for Netflix.

All of them have lost money, every single one. Netflix is the only American content company to make money off streaming so far.

Why is that?

Because Netflix’s only business is streaming.

Every other one of these big media companies, except for Apple and Amazon, which are using streaming as ancillary offerings for their primary businesses, has cut their own cable and satellite throat by creating a streaming service because they were afraid Netflix would have the streaming industry to themselves.

The cable and satellite industry was the best business in world media history. And all of these big media companies destroyed that business by going all-in on streaming, which so far is the worst business in world media history.

Okay, you might be thinking, how does this impact sports and the ESPN/Charter battle?

Well, you know the broadband wires in your house that you probably forgot are there — it turns out that’s actually a way better business for the cable and satellite companies than the cable and satellite business is.

We’re all addicted to the Internet.

And we can’t get on the Internet without those broadband cables (at least most of us can’t). And that business is a way better business now than cable and satellite.

Charter has been in the cable and satellite business for a long time. But they have smart business guys too and those smart business guys are seeing all of you drop cable and satellite bundles and they see that the long range cable business is not going to be particularly profitable. What’s more, even if they don’t have smart quant guys they can see what Disney is telling everyone about ESPN because Disney CEO Bob Iger keeps telling everyone his plans for ESPN

And that plan is this, succinctly, “We’re going to take ESPN directly to consumers as a streaming service eventually, but not yet. First we’re going to bleed the cable and satellite companies for as much money as we can.”

In the meantime ESPN+ is just an attempt to monetize all the content that isn’t good enough to be on regular ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, the SEC Network, you get my drift. ESPN+ is just a test case for the future when all of ESPN will be streamed direct to the consumer.

But ESPN got cocky — they went and told everyone that eventually ESPN would put all its games on a direct to consumer streaming company. And then they wouldn’t need the cable and satellite companies at all to bring their channel to the masses.

COMCAST, DISNEY MOVE UP DATE FOR HULU DEAL

But, in the meantime, ESPN expected the cable and satellite companies to keep paying them full freight. But that wasn’t all, ESPN expected they could keep raising prices too. Effectively ESPN told the cable and satellite companies that it was going to cut their arms and legs off, but it wasn’t sure when it would decide to do so. Still, ESPN expected for the cable companies to sharpen the sword for them.

And most cable and satellite companies didn’t fight back that hard because they also have exposure to the cable and satellite bundle. Comcast, for instance, doesn’t want to lose ESPN because if they do then all the NBC cable properties will lose a ton of money due to the cord cutting. So they may not like their ESPN deals, but they can at least convince themselves that they are making a ton of money by milking the cable and satellite bundle dry too.

But the Charter guys, who don’t own cable channels like Comcast, look at the math and think, “We don’t really care about the cable and satellite bundle because we make most of our money off broadband.” So unlike virtually every other carriage dispute we’ve seen, when ESPN’s games being pulled made fans furious and the resulting threats terrified the cable companies, the Charter people are actually encouraging you to go sign up for YouTube TV or whatever other streaming service you want to use. Why? Because they make more money off broadband, they don’t really care about their cable business any more.

And they know that ESPN wants to cut their arms and legs off, but they’re calling ESPN’s bluff here because for the first time ever, ESPN’s got less leverage than the cable company does. ESPN needs cable more than cable needs ESPN.

So ESPN is f—ed

And so, maybe, is the entire cable and satellite bundle.

Because Charter knows that if ESPN goes direct to consumer, guess what, THEY STILL MAKE MONEY!

Because you have to stream ESPN on their broadband service and they take a share of the sign up money to bring ESPN to the home too.

DISNEY ENCOURAGES SPECTRUM CUSTOMERS TO MOVE TO HULU + LIVE TV AMID CHARTER DISPUTE

And ESPN knows that their cable and satellite business is collapsing but, and this is key, they’ve also done the math and realize that streaming is going to destroy their existing cable business. Because, and this is what no one seems willing to say, ESPN doesn’t just have one bad business now — the cable and satellite bundle — they have the streaming business too, which is an even worse business. And, and this is very key, each business is accelerating the demise of the other. Streaming isn’t making ESPN stronger, it’s making ESPN weaker because it’s hastening the destruction of a profitable business — cable and satellite — for a money-losing business — streaming.

And that’s what many are still missing — as the cable and satellite bundle boat takes on water and sinks, the streaming bundle is also taking on water and sinking too. ESPN has tried to sell people on the idea that at the exact moment that the cable and satellite bundle collapses they are going to step to a brand new business, the streaming business, and it’s going to be a sturdy and successful lifeboat that carries them to richer waters.

But the reality is, streaming is a way worse business than the cable and satellite bundle. Because the only people who pay for ESPN will be sports fans. The free ride is over, your Aunt Gladys is never signing up and subsidizing your sports viewing again.

For the record, I’m not great at math. The only math class I ever took in college was – and I’m not making this up – something called, “Mathematical Concepts,” It was me and every sorority girl at George Washington University.
 

So it was the greatest class of my life.

Anyway, let me help you here with my rudimentary math ability. Let’s say ESPN makes $8 billion a year now in subscription fees. ($10 a month x 70 million subscribers they has before Charter cut this by 15 million). Toss in another two billion in advertising and let’s say ESPN presently nets around $10 billion a year. Okay, how many people will sign up for ESPN as a direct to consumer streaming service? If they could get 70 million subscribers we’d all have to pay $120 a year for ESPN streaming by itself. (This assumes advertising will still be the same, which it won’t, but let’s just be generous and pretend it will.) But, as I noted above, many of these people paying for ESPN now as part of their cable and satellite package never watch ESPN.

So how many people will actually subscribe to a direct to consumer ESPN streaming service? Turns out there are some early test cases.

The NFL Sunday Ticket is the most desirable direct to consumer product on the planet. Do you know how many households subscribe for NFL Sunday Ticket? Around three million.

Uh oh.

Wait a minute, you’re telling me that the NFL can only get around three million households to sign up for actual NFL games, all of the out of market games, in the entire country?

We’ve got a major math problem here for ESPN.

Let’s be generous again and say that ESPN can get 7x as many subscribers as the NFL can for Monday Night Football and college football. That’s 20 million, roughly, subscribers. What would those 20 million people have to pay for ESPN over streaming to replicate what ESPN makes now? $500 a year. That’s roughly $40 a month.

And that’s if everyone pays that amount all year around.

NETFLIX SIGN-UPS STILL STRONG DESPITE PASSWORD SHARING CRACKDOWN

Which they won’t.

Not even close.

Because here’s the other problem — most people will pay seasonally for the sports they actually care about the most.

Many ESPN streaming subscribers will pick the months they care about the most — football season — and cancel for non-football season. Especially when the service costs this much a month. (Most ESPN+ subscribers aren’t paying for the service now or its bundled for free alongside other products so ESPN+ isn’t a good test case.) Churn is a major issue on streaming, which is why there has to be constantly new offerings. And even with this constant flow of new content lots of people cut their subscriptions, return and binge, and then cut their subscriptions again. And this doesn’t even consider the amount of shared passwords ESPN will have for games, that will be a huge mess.

As if this math weren’t bad enough, remember that ESPN has $45 billion already in sunk sports costs. They bought like the cable bundle was going to last forever. And they still have to buy forever in the future. The NBA and college football playoffs which both expire soon are going to cost tens of billions more. It’s likely ESPN is going to end up with $100 billion in total sports rights costs before long.

And what happens if they don’t buy these rights? No one signs up. So ESPN is locked into a bad streaming business that keeps getting worse.

That’s why Charter has essentially called ESPN’s bluff. They’re telling ESPN to go ahead and launch their direct to consumer streaming service because Charter thinks they’ll make more money on this than they do on cable. But ESPN knows the streaming math doesn’t add up. And I’m honestly not sure what the long range plan here is for ESPN. Because the math, I don’t think, ever adds up. And this is why I think ESPN is trying desperately to find a buyer for the network. Because the ultimate flaw of ESPN’s business is now revealing itself.

And it’s this — ESPN doesn’t actually produce anything of value, it just rents the games from the leagues.

ESPN is the sports version of Blockbuster Video. You remember Blockbuster, right? They didn’t produce anything, they just carried the movies you came to rent. And Netflix destroyed them too.

ESPN, truth be told, has never fit what works for Disney. Because Disney, whatever you think about the company, is in the production of content it owns forever business. The Marvel movies, Star Wars, Pixar, the animated films, the amusement parks, Disney is in the business of creating content that will last for generations. Notwithstanding the looming disaster that is the new woke, live action version of “Snow White,” your kids and grandkids will probably watch these old animated movies and enjoy them just like you did. Same with Star Wars and the Marvel movies. Your grandkids will know who Darth Vader is.

But a Thursday night college football game or an NBA game on Christmas that’s played this year?

It’s all disposable content immediately replaced by the next rented games on the network.

None of it has any lasting value.

That’s bad for Disney, but ESPN is worse than Blockbuster Video because when Blockbuster Video collapsed the entire shopping mall didn’t go bankrupt with it. The grocery store was still open, the Subway still made sandwiches, the gas station stayed open, a new store probably opened where Blockbuster used to be.

But ESPN’s demise threatens to destroy every shop in the neighborhood.

TNT, Turner, AMC, Nickelodeon, you name the channel, all of them are basically being held together by the cable bundle. And ESPN is the most important channel in the cable and satellite bundle, it’s the linchpin, the anchor store. ESPN is your neighborhood shopping mall’s anchor tenant — the Macy’s, the Nordstrom, the Dillard’s the JC Penny. When a mall’s anchor tenant leaves the mall is often dead for, the rest of the shopping mall collapses around it. That’s why the best analogy for ESPN isn’t Blockbuster, it’s Sears, a big mall anchor tenant that collapsed and went bankrupt.

(Side note: I actually think CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News will be okay long range because the demand for live news isn’t going away, they’ll have to just find new ways to distribute their content. Plus, unlike ESPN which has to pay tens of billions for sports rights, the news isn’t licensed, it’s easier to cut costs. But all the non-live cable channels? They’re going to vanish into the streaming universe. Shark Week will come to Netflix or the like. They’re all finished.)

Okay, if you’ve read to this point, you might be thinking, “This feels like it’s going to be really bad, Clay.”

Uh, yeah, it is, that’s why I called it a media extinction level event.

The asteroid is going to hit everyone in media.

In a major way.

This is also why I don’t see why anyone buys ESPN. Unless you desperately need the sports rights ESPN has right now, why wouldn’t the streaming companies, if they really want to get in the sports business, just outbid ESPN for the NBA and the college football playoff and the other rights as they come to market? ESPN’s only real assets are the rights they presently own. So why would you pay ESPN for the rights fees when you could just wait and outbid them for those games as they come to market? The only value ESPN has is if someone has to have these existing sports rights immediately. But if you wait over the next five to ten years those ESPN rights end and the leagues will sell to the highest bidders on the open market.

And the streaming companies deciding to bid is the best case for the sports leagues.

Because unless the streaming companies step up to the plate, athlete salaries and sports team valuations may have peaked. Because, remember, athlete salaries and sports teams valuations have been subsidized by the cable and satellite bundle too. Do you really think NBA players you’ve never heard of deserve $50 million a year salaries? Of course not. They’re getting paid that because of the cable and satellite bundle. The regional sports networks, which fund much of this salary largesse, are already going bankrupt and no one seems to be able to explain what happens next in terms of local sports rights.

But this isn’t just sports.

Every cable and satellite channel is in danger of bankruptcy too. As I laid out above, ESPN is the anchor tenant in the cable and satellite bundle mall. The only thing holding our mall together is sports and live news. And sports may have just left the building.

Now, to be fair, in the time I wrote this maybe Charter and ESPN have come to an agreement and the immediate collapse of the cable and satellite bundle will be forestalled. Maybe this will all happen in three or four years instead of right now.

But it is happening.

It is inevitable. We’ve basically reached the scene in Avengers where Thanos, the evil villain in the Marvel films, snaps his fingers and half of the population vanishes.

It’s like that, except with media companies.

And unlike in the Avengers, no one can travel back in time and reverse the snap. In fact, crazily, with the rush to streaming the cable and satellite companies have been competing to see who can snap first. They’re all Thanos-ing themselves.

Intentionally.

So, yeah, this is bad. Probably way worse than you ever thought it was.

And if you’re a sports fans like me and you just want to sit down on your couch and pick up one remote and watch every game with ease, that’s never happening again. Watching sports is going to cost you a ton, way more than you ever paid for cable. And some of the games you want to watch are going to be on services that aren’t available in your market or aren’t at a price point you’re willing to pay.

And what’s old may become new again.

You might find yourself scanning for games on your radio. You might be hitting refresh on your phone to watch scoreboards, the new digital version of the cable and satellite streaming scores on the bottom of the screen that we grew up with.

And no matter what teams you root for, you’re about to pay infinitely more to watch them.

If you can find their games at all.

And as much as you may think ESPN’s woke politics suck, things are about to get much worse for every sports fan.

But, again, it’s not just sports, it’s all of cable.

I liked the cable and satellite bundle. You probably did too. And I liked the mall too. I enjoyed going there, getting a pretzel in the food court, buying a new pair of jeans.

I went to my local mall recently, the one I grew up going to, the one I used to have a job in at the local “American Eagle,” but the anchor tenants are all gone.

The parking lot was empty.

Most of the stores were vacant.

The bustle and hubbub was all gone, almost no one was there.

It was a ghost town.

It felt just like one of those zombie shows.

That I used to watch on cable.

Mattress Peddlers

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Language Barriers Complicate the Geography of News

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News deserts are expanding. Nearly two decades ago, the United States had about 9,000 newspapers; as 2019 came to a close, it had 6,700. Of the country’s 3,143 counties, over 200 have no newspaper or other sources of credible news. Half of these counties only have one newspaper and two-thirds do not have a daily newspaper. These losses have been especially glaring in the Midwest and the East.

A lack of access to credible news facilitates the spread of disinformation and drives up political and social polarization. It erodes trust in the news media and can exacerbate the digital divide between residents with good internet access who can seek out diverse sources of news and people with poor or no connectivity.

Residents who speak very little or no English who live in communities dominated by local news outlets that only provide news and information in English confront another serious problem: They live in linguistic news deserts. These residents are usually left behind when it comes to finding out about critical government, school, business, and other key developments and events in their communities.

More from Emma J. Murphy

In Missouri, over 19 percent of the state’s population is Hispanic or Latino and nearly 22 percent of Missourians speak a language other than English in their households. About 33,000 people, nearly 3 percent of the state’s population, speak Spanish. More than 15 percent of people in Sullivan County in northern Missouri speak Spanish, the highest in the state; 8 percent have limited proficiency in English. But the county has only one newspaper, a weekly called The Milan Standard, which publishes in English.

Missouri has only ten media outlets that serve specific cultural and ethnic communities, but these are concentrated in St. Louis and Kansas City. For example, Red Latina, a digital daily news website (it also offers a monthly magazine) provides national and local news for the St. Louis area. It also covers state elections and legal developments, as well as cultural and entertainment events like the Missouri State Fair. The paper also has a companion radio program, “Radio Red Latina,” that features music and news updates.

Midway between St. Louis and Kansas City, Columbia’s nearly 190,000 residents have a healthy selection of English-language news outlets to choose from with about two newspapers, two magazines, four radio, and three television stations. But there are no publications providing news exclusively in other languages, even though about 10 percent of Columbia residents speak a language other than English at home, 3.7 percent of the population identifies as Hispanic or Latino, and about 6.5 percent of the residents in Columbia were born in another country.

The existence of multiple news outlets does not mean that all residents have access to news.

Kassidy Arena works at KBIA, the NPR affiliate in Columbia, Missouri. Last year, she produced “¿Dónde está mi gente?” a six-part Spanish-language news project that spotlighted Hispanic and Latino communities in central Missouri. For Arena, the definition of what constitutes a news desert is too narrow; the existence of multiple news outlets does not mean that all residents have access to news. The language barrier is just one issue: Often, Latino communities don’t see themselves or their issues reflected in the media.

Nick Mathews, a professor of journalism at the University of Missouri, writes that the presence of a local newspaper helps to foster broader connections: When people cannot access local news, the community connections and bonds weaken. They can end up isolated from their neighbors, resources, government leaders, and more. Without access to news, they cannot fully participate in their communities.

Community groups, social services, and local religious groups all play a role in disseminating news to people who can’t readily use existing English-language outlets. When COVID-19 peaked, many Latinos, who were disproportionately affected by the disease, lacked good access to Spanish-language public-health information about how to protect themselves from the virus and how to get vaccinated. Religious leaders stepped in to fill the gap. One pastor, Francisco Bonilla, founder of Casa de Sanidad, a church in the southwestern city of Carthage, ran a Spanish-language radio station that offered sermons and music. During the pandemic, he offered interviews with nurses and health experts.

College students are also leading efforts to broaden access. Four journalism students at the University of Missouri’s flagship campus in Columbia launched De Veras, a digital news website, earlier this year to serve central Missouri’s Latino communities. The social media–centered project translates local news as well as information on accessing resources for the region’s Spanish-speaking population. The students met with community members in towns outside Columbia with large Latino populations to better understand their needs. They also partnered with statewide online publications, like the Missouri Independent.

How can newsrooms bring down language and cultural barriers? Some New Jersey news outlets take advantage of special programs like the NJ News Commons Spanish Translation News Service, which brings English- and Spanish-language news outlets together to provide news and information first produced in English to Spanish-speaking communities. Public radio is also a valuable source of content. Radio stations are in a unique position: They are often available across large portions of the country and are accessible to people without reliable internet access. Iowa Public Radio, where Arena once worked, has established a beat for news, culture, and events for the state’s Latino and Hispanic communities. The NPR affiliate also translates some regional and statewide stories on the site into Spanish.

Hola, America, an independent online publication, has local affiliates in Iowa, Illinois, and the Quad Cities (a region on the border of Iowa and Illinois). This website offers all of its news in both Spanish and English.

News outlets should aim to create a specific beat or assign a reporter to an underserved community. Having regular contact with a journalist covering their issues creates a sense of trust between the community and the media. But these efforts must be sustained or any trust built up will fall apart. “We just have to figure out the sustainability part before we make promises that we can’t keep,” says Arena.

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