TIME Media

Can We All Shut Up About the Weather for a While?

Times Square Snow Storm New York City
A man walks through the middle of a snow storm in Times Square, New York City on Jan. 26, 2015. Benjamin Lowy—Getty Images Reportage for TIME

Nick Gillespie is the editor in chief of Reason.com and Reason.tv.

Especially weather that is totally in keeping with the seasons in which it’s taking place

So there was no Great Blizzard of 2015, or Snowmageddon, or anything more than a routine dumping of white stuff in mid-winter over a godforsaken region of the country that people are already leaving in droves.

The predictions for a Northeastern snow and ice storm of biblical proportions — if the Bible had snow, that is — just didn’t happen. Apart from a few Twitter jokes, what lessons should we draw from this latest media-driven anticlimax?

At the top of the list: Can we shut up about weather for a while, especially weather that is totally in keeping with the seasons in which it’s taking place? It’s only 2015, but it seems like we get storms of the century about every three to six months. Our parents famously walked three miles (uphill both ways, mind you) in sub-zero and scorching temperatures in shoes made of detergent-box cardboard while also mining coal and smoking unfiltered cigarettes by the carton. And here we are, snug in our all-wheel-drive vehicles and Gore-Tex weather wear, demanding work and school be canceled on a 40% likelihood of snow flurries.

Summer has heat waves, winter has snowstorms, get over it. Ever since The Weather Channel first went live in 1982, Americans have been in love with “weather porn,” those swirling animated displays of pixels that change from green to yellow to orange to red to blue while moving rightward across your TV, computer, or smartphone screens. We stand transfixed like 12-year-old boys looking at a centerfold for the first time as reporters dressed like the Gorton’s Fisherman stand in the rain and tell us… it’s raining. Or, worse yet, that it’s not raining, snowing, sleeting, or hailing.

Part of the weather hype is driven by hysteria over global warming, which means that weather — once delivered by genial weirdos like Willard Scott and David Letterman — is as big a deal as the latest American misadventure in the Middle East (for the record, I believe that climate change is taking place, that human activity is part of the cause, and that the best way to deal with it is to remediate its effects rather than simply pull the plug on human progress).

As one Twitter wag put it in response to the non-blizzard of the moment, “Remember: no snow = global warming, lots of snow = global warming, less snow than you thought = global warming.” The important thing being, of course, that we always feel bad about ourselves no matter what’s happening. The United States doesn’t have colonies anymore, but we can still feel bad that our productive might is somehow making the world a worse place.

Which leads to a second lesson to learn from this latest snow job: To politicians, any and every day is a campaign rally just waiting to happen. Within recent memory, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took heat for failing to react quickly and efficiently to snowstorms, among other weather events. It’s funny, isn’t it, the way that our elected leaders never really seem to be there when it matters but are always quick to petition for extra money from taxpayers, the federal government, or private businesses for the next big catastrophe?

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and current New York Mayor Bill de Blasio proactively managed expectations by hyping this week’s non-storm, thereby helping to cause a run on grocery stores. Cuomo also trumpeted his actions to keep Uber from enacting “surge pricing” of more than 2.8 times its normal base fares. The whole point of surge pricing is to make it worthwhile for drivers to risk being out when they’d rather not, so we’ll see how well this exercise in price controls works out the next time there’s actually a serious weather event going on.

Which leads to a third and final lesson to remember from Nomageddon 2015: When push comes to shove, America, you’re on your own. After overseeing a nearly complete failure to execute the tasks for which New York City residents shell out exorbitant taxes, Mayor Bloomberg called the experience “character building” — for him. “Nobody has a career that goes straight up,” mused the billionaire on a radio talk show right after the debacle. You’re a chump if you think that elected officials really care about you and your misfortunes, America.

They have bigger fish to fry, bigger bank accounts to manage, and higher offices to seek than anything related to what they owe you. The sooner you fully internalize that reality and minimize the money they take from you and the regulations they bind you with, the more prepared you’ll be able to deal with the figurative and literal storm clouds life puts in your way.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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Watch the Chilling New Domestic Violence Ad You’ll See During the Super Bowl

No celebrities here

There’s a new domestic violence public service announcement airing during the Super Bowl, and it’s much scarier than most of the ones you’ve seen before.

The ad is part of the NFL’s “No More” campaign, but you won’t see any earnest-looking football players here. Instead, it’s based on an actual 911 call from a domestic violence victim, who pretends she’s ordering a pizza because her attacker is still in the room with her.

 

TIME weather

7 Chilling Stories of Snow Storms Throughout American History

Jan. 31, 1977, cover
The Jan. 31, 1977, cover of TIME Cover Credit: ART SHAY

If you get snowed in, here's some reading material

It was Jan. 31, 1977, when this poor freezing man appeared on the cover of TIME. The story inside, which detailed the effects on the United States of what the publisher’s letter called “the bitterest cold spell in memory.”

The first-ever reported snow fall in West Palm Beat, Fla., had shocked residents. Buffalo had been buried under more than 120 in. of the white stuff that season. And, ironically, areas that needed snow — the ski resorts of Idaho, for example — had to rely on snow-making machines despite the cold temperatures. Record lows were reported in cities nationwide. The natural-gas industry went into crisis mode. Maryland declared a state of emergency as the state’s seafood industry was shut down by a frozen bay.

But, of course, 1977 wasn’t the only year that the U.S. suffered under snow — and, right now, the Northeast is bracing for what promises to be a major blizzard.

Here are the stories of seven other noteworthy storms from American history, as told by TIME:

From the Nov. 25, 1946, issue: Blizzard on the Prairie

When a major storm hit Colorado, ranchers found that feeding and protecting their herds was more difficult than ever:

The sun disappeared behind a grey overcast, and a great stillness fell over the eastern Colorado plains. After that a freezing wind rose, banged barn doors and snatched at the smoke from lonely ranch houses. It grew dark, and salt-like snow began hissing across leagues of sere buffalo grass. Then, for 48 hours, a blizzard—the worst in 33 years—moaned down out of Wyoming with nothing to stop it but fence posts and cottonwood trees.

As the prairies whitened, scores of thousands of chunky Hereford cattle turned tail to the storm, lowered their heads, and began to drift disconsolately before it. When they came to fences they turned, followed the wire. But some time during the second night, when the snow was belly deep on the flats and higher than a rider’s head in the drifts, they stopped. When the storm ceased and the cold intensified, herd after herd stood wearily with their breaths steaming, waiting patiently for death.

Read the rest of the story here

From the Jan. 5, 1948, issue: The Big Snow

Though New Yorkers “disregard nature until it makes more noise than the subway,” a storm at the turn of 1948 got their attention:

Suddenly the city began to realize what was happening. It was seeing its heaviest snowfall in Weather Bureau history (76 years). At midnight, 18 hours and 35 minutes after the storm began, the Weather Bureau announced that 25.8 inches had fallen. It was 4.9 inches above the record set in the legendary three-day blizzard of 1888.

By 5 o’clock, central Manhattan subway stations were jammed with pushing, gesticulating throngs. Shoe stores were invaded by snow-powdered hikers in search of rubbers and galoshes. Hotels were besieged; and a backwash of the stranded headed for bars, all-night movies and the apartments of friends. Meanwhile the Fire Department was struck by the horrible thought—it couldn’t move its trucks. Its engine-house gongs rang out the “five sixes” (all firemen report for duty). It got radio stations to ask the citizenry kindly not to let their houses burn down.

Read the rest of the story here

From the Feb. 17, 1961, issue: The Cause of the Snow

Blizzards in 1961 were, TIME reported, due to a vicious cycle of weather, in which storms kept the ground from warming, which allowed cold air to get up under warmer winds, causing further storms. The result was a string of bad weather nationwide:

Particularly in the East, the frozen, snow-strangled U.S. last week could only echo General George S. Patton’s exasperated wartime injunction to his chaplain: “Goddam it, get me some good weather!”

Not since Dec. 1 had the cities and farms east of the Mississippi seen even reasonable winter weather. Ferryboats froze in Lake Michigan. Georgia peach trees shivered in the coldest winter in 25 years. New York City, buried under 55.7 inches of snow that had fallen this season, also endured 16 days of continuously below-freezing temperatures. Last week, in a taxi driver’s dream of heaven, private cars were banned in Manhattan for five days to facilitate snow removal, which so far has cost the metropolis some $20 million.

Read the rest of the story here

From the Feb. 3, 1967, issue: The 24-Million-Ton Snow Job

When Chicago was hit with a record 23 inches of show in 1967, it shut down the city almost entirely:

Chicagoans knew that the balmy 65° weather could hardly last—it was, after all, the warmest Jan. 24 on record— but they little dreamed how startling the change would be. Within two days, the temperature plummeted to the 20s, snow came cascading down, and icy winds gusted through the streets. Though no stranger to wintry storms, Chicago found itself in the brief space of 24 hours paralyzed by the worst blizzard in its history—a raging storm that tore through large sections of the Midwest and caused at least 75 deaths.

The howling blast began Thursday morning. By midafternoon, Chicago’s streets were clogged by wind-whipped snowdrifts and stalled autos. With traffic at a standstill and visibility at zero, tens of thousands of marooned workers had to spend the night in firehouses, hospitals and hotels. On the Calumet Expressway, 1,000 stranded motorists joined hands so that they would not get lost, snaked their way to nearby homes. A 50-year-old woman suffered a fatal heart attack on a stalled bus at 5 a.m. Friday. Not until six hours later could snowbound police remove her body.

Read the rest of the story here

From the Feb. 6, 1978, issue: Now It’s The Midwest’s Turn

A blizzard in early 1978 struck the East first, before turning bringing the Midwest to a stand-still and costing the auto industry an estimated $130 million:

Enough already. First the winter of ‘78 clobbered the East with heavy snow (Boston, 21 in.; New York, 16 in.), the West with drenching rains and high winds, the South with frigid temperatures and a score of tornadoes. In Massachusetts, the state’s $9 million snow-removal budget is already exhausted. California drought officials traded in their sun visors for umbrellas and began dispensing flood-control information. Motorists in Georgia shuddered at the foreign squeal of back tires spinning on ice.

Last week it was the Midwest’s turn. Roaring through the upper Midwest, the Great Lakes and the Ohio River Valley, from the Appalachians to the Canadian border, a blizzard blasted 31 in. of snow across Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. With winds clocked at up to 100 m.p.h. (hurricane force is 75 m.p.h.), the wind-chill factor hitting–50o and record-low barometric readings, the National Weather Service classified the big blow as an “extratropical cyclone.” That scarcely did justice to this great white whale of a storm. An NWS spokesman in Detroit called the blizzard “one of the worst, if not the worst,” In Michigan’s history. Kentucky Governor Julian Carroll said it was “the most devastating snow accumulation in 100 years.” Ohio Governor James A. Rhodes also deemed the storm the worst ever in his state–”a killer blizzard looking for victims.”

Read the rest of the story here

From the Feb. 20, 1978, issue: Blizzard of the Century

The bad weather of 1978 continued as Providence received 26 inches of snow, coastal landmarks in Massachusetts were destroyed and temperatures even in the South plunged down to well below freezing:

Buffeted by winds of up to 110 m.p.h., a 42-ft. Coast Guard pilot boat, the Can Do, capsized and sank in Salem Harbor. The captain and the four-man crew were drowned. In nearby Nahant, Melvin Demit, 61, was lighting the furnace in his basement, when a wall of water crashed into his house and engulfed him. In Scituate, a raging sea swept five-year-old Amy Lanzikos to her death just as a rescue boat was bringing her to safety.

This was the scene along the Massachusetts coast last week, as a mammoth blizzard–the worst since 1888–slammed the Northeast, dropping from 1 to 4 ft. of snow in the latest blast from a winter of stormy discontent. Raging from Virginia to Maine, the hurricane-like storm killed at least 56 people, caused an estimated half billion dollars’ worth of damage and crippled Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island for five days.

Read the rest of the story here

From the Jan. 22, 1996, issue: The Blizzard of ’96

A more recent blizzard drew complaints from some New Yorkers that there were “no trains, no cabs, no nothin’ — just snow”:

It was eraser on a near impossible scale. First the sky went blank, and then the ground. Then, in most places, your front steps disappeared, then your car; and finally, your schedule for the next 48 hours. How big was the snowstorm that hit the Eastern states early last week? So big that in each new place it bulldozed over, it toppled a different historical precedent. In New York City they compared it to the great storm of 1947. In Boston it was the blizzard of 1978. In Raleigh, North Carolina, the snow of 1989. That won’t happen next time. Whenever they do their recollecting, January 1996 will be the Last Big Storm for the entire East Coast.

It was a classic nor’easter that happened to stretch over 20 states and do tremendous damage. At least 100 lives were lost, many to heart attacks triggered by Sisyphean shoveling. Bill Clinton called the storm a “national disaster” and promised federal relief. In the New York region alone, an estimated $1 billion was lost to interrupted business and cleanup costs.Every region got more than it was prepared for. An inch of icy snow sufficed in Atlanta, where tractor-trailers skidded across highway lanes and the indoor Peachtree Center shopping area became deserted.

Twenty-four inches knocked out Washington; Philadelphia got a record 30.7, and New York City endured 20.6. Even jaded Boston, with 18.2 inches, postponed a Bruins hockey game (against the Colorado Avalanche).

Read the rest of the story here

TIME Media

Churchill Était Charlie Aussi

Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill arrives in Paris, circa 1948 Gamma-Keystone / Getty Images

As signals of political will, even cartoons matter, as Britain found out in the 1930s when it tried to appease Hitler by silencing satirists

History News Network

This post is in partnership with the History News Network, the website that puts the news into historical perspective. The article below was originally published at HNN.

It all began with a cartoon, and it became an international crisis.

In November 1937 Lord Halifax, Neville Chamberlain’s Foreign Secretary, visited Germany in hopes of reaching an understanding with Adolf Hitler. Halifax found the Chancellor “on the whole very quiet and restrained,” except that he became absolutely enraged when the conversation turned to British newspapers. It was the cartoons that particularly galled him. Outrageously, the Daily Herald had portrayed Europa offering to buy peace by handing over her colonized peoples to a villainous Hitler: “Take my child, but spare, oh spare me!”

This Halifax thought “malevolently and I think unjustly cruel.” (He meant the cartoon, not Nazism.) Rather than suggest that the Chancellor cancel his subscription, Halifax returned to London and reprimanded the proprietor of the Daily Herald. He also had a word with David Low, whose wickedly brilliant caricatures of Hitler appeared in the Evening Standard. “Do I understand you to say that you would find it easier to promote peace if my cartoons did not irritate the Nazi leaders personally?” Low asked, and Halifax affirmed that yes, his lampoons were in fact imperiling the tranquility of Europe.

Low pulled his punches for a while, but in March 1938 an ungrateful Hitler invaded Austria, and the cartoonist ramped up his satire once again. For that he was attacked as a threat to peace by several newspapers and by the Prime Minister himself. The Anglican Church Times considered Low’s cartoons insensitive and inappropriate: “Good taste…forbids joking concerning subjects which are held sacred by others.”

Now the peace of Europe has once again been disturbed by a joke, though it was not in fact sacrilegious. Charlie Hebdo’s notorious cover was directed against neither Islam nor the Prophet Mohammed. It actually denounced the persecution of a Muslim: the flogging of Saudi Arabian dissident Raif Badawi. But for some readers, evidently, that distinction didn’t matter.

January 24 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Winston Churchill – who knew all too well that ruthless totalitarians could intimidate the press in the democracies. In the 1930s, when he was out of office, Churchill marshaled his skills as an experienced journalist to spotlight the Nazi menace, but he often couldn’t get his work into print. “At present the British public and press are very much the victims of the Nazi Ministry of Information and its lies,” he told his supporters, “it has collared the press, the radio and every other instrument for spreading news.”

This was not paranoia. Nazi Germany kept foreign correspondents in line by expelling those who wouldn’t play ball, starting with the celebrated American newspaperwoman Dorothy Thompson. Those who remained had to exercise some degree of self-censorship. Neville Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement included pressuring and cajoling journalists to go easy on Hitler. The BBC effectively banned anti-Nazi views from the airwaves and mostly limited its coverage of foreign crises to repeating anodyne government pronouncements. Churchill was a prime mover behind the Focus, a group of prominent antiappeasers, but their activities were largely blacked out by the British media. When a supporter urged him to rouse the country with a speaking tour, Churchill pointed out that he would get no press coverage: “One poor wretch may easily exhaust himself without his even making a ripple upon the current of opinion.”

Churchill was able to reach the public directly as a newspaper columnist for Lord Beaverbrook’s Evening Standard. But in February 1938 another Beaverbrook paper, the Daily Express, charged him with leading a “violent, foolish, and dangerous campaign to drive this country into war,” and a few weeks later the Evening Standard terminated his contract. Churchill continued to publish, but only by leaping first to the Daily Telegraph and then to the Daily Mirror.

For a while Emery Reves, Churchill’s literary agent, was able to place his columns in papers in Europe’s remaining democracies, but Nazi diplomatic and economic pressure snuffed out these outlets one by one. After the Danish foreign minister was served an ultimatum by the German ambassador, an anti-Nazi editor of Copenhagen’s Berlingske Tidende was effectively furloughed. The Swedish prime minister and the president of the Norwegian parliament strongly advised their newspapers to avoid offending the German government. The Poles enforced a virtual ban on Churchill’s articles, even as Hitler’s threats against them escalated. As Reves summed up their attitude, “We must be agreeable to the Germans until the very last moment, when we shall ask England and France to make war for us.”

Of course, Hitler drew the conclusion that anyone who was afraid to criticize him would be afraid to fight him. As signals of political will, even cartoons matter. Tyrants absolutely must crush ridicule, and not only because it is a radically subversive weapon. They are also testing their powers of coercion, and when they succeed, they gain prestige and momentum.

So how will journalists respond? DeWayne Wickham, dean of the School of Global Journalism and Communication at Morgan State University, wrote in a recent newspaper column that “Charlie Hebdo has gone too far,” and limits must be placed on a free press. The cover of the issue following the massacre depicted a contrite Mohammed, ashamed of the crimes committed in his name. It clearly portrayed the Prophet as a decent man with a conscience, but for Dean Wickham, this is impermissible. He noted that this cover sparked Muslim riots in Niger, killing ten people. And that, he concluded, constitutes “a clear and present danger…beyond the limits of the endurable.” (He meant the cartoon, not the killers of those ten Africans.)

Jonathan Rose is William R. Kenan Professor of History at Drew University. This article is adapted from his recent book “The Literary Churchill: Author, Reader, Actor” (Yale University Press).

TIME feminism

How 7 Disney Princesses Could Change the World

Without a magic wand

After a U.S. official suggested this week that Anna and Elsa from Frozen could be good ambassadors for fighting climate change, we got to thinking about how some other Disney Princesses could wield their mighty influence on young American minds.

Princess Diana raised awareness about AIDS and land mines after her fairy-tale wedding glow faded, so why shouldn’t Disney Princesses be do-gooders, too? Here are some ways these fictional characters could change the world.

Read next: Alan Menken Tells the Stories Behind Your Favorite Disney Classics

  • Mulan (from Mulan)

    Disney

    She could fight for increased protections for women in the military, especially when it comes to being sexually assaulted or filmed in the shower. She could also fight to reform the hairstyle rules for military women, so that no female soldier ever has to give herself a terrible haircut with her dad’s sword ever again.

  • Belle (from Beauty and the Beast)

    Disney "Beauty & the Beast 3D" Belle. ©2011 Disney. All Rights Reserved.
    Disney

    She could campaign for child literacy programs and for more online education options for people who live in boring towns. She could also be a vocal advocate for increased social security and adult-home-care programs to reduce wolf attacks among the elderly.

  • Ariel (from The Little Mermaid)

    Disney

    She could be an spokesperson to clean up the oceans and save the diversity of species under the sea. She could also fight for immigration reform, so that evil witches stop taking advantage of anyone who wants to cross a border. And she could do it all in mime.

  • Pocahontas (from Pocahontas)

    Disney

    Her conflict resolution skills could make her an excellent candidate to be a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador, especially in areas with indigenous tensions. She could also fight to eliminate corporal punishment and serve on the board of Save America’s Forests.

  • Cinderella (from Cinderella)

    Disney

    She could fight for a higher minimum wage in the service industry and advocate for increased protections against child labor. She could also secretly fight to lower estate taxes so that other children of rich parents don’t end up poor like her.

  • Tiana (from The Princess and the Frog)

    Disney

    The star of the New Orleans fairy tale could demand a larger investment in small businesses and an increased environmental commitment to global warming to reduce the rising waters that threaten her hometown.

  • Jasmine (from Aladdin)

    Disney

    She could be a vocal advocate for the rights of women in the Middle East, and could fight for an expansion of girls’ education in that region. She could also oppose any laws that forbid women to drive cars or operate magic carpets.

TIME Media

Meet the First Ever Female Editor of the Economist

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle speaks during a forum session at the World Economic Forum, with Moderator Zanny Minton Beddoes and Luis de Guindos Jurado, Spanish Minister for Economy, on Jan. 25, 2013 in Davos.
Zanny Minton Beddoes moderates a conversation between German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and Luis de Guindos Jurado, Spanish Minister for Economy, on Jan. 25, 2013 in Davos. Raphael Huenerfauth—Photothek/Getty Images

Zanny Minton Beddoes is the first woman to helm the news magazine in its 172-year history

The Economist magazine has promoted its business affairs editor Zanny Minton Beddoes to the publication’s top spot, marking the first time a woman has been in the role.

Beddoes joined the Economist in 1994 after working as an economist at the International Monetary Fund, and was based in Washington, D.C., for much of her time with the magazine. She moved to London last year. The promotion will see her taking over for John Micklethwait, who was the editor of the magazine for nine years and who is leaving at the end of January to become editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News.

The Financial Times reports that 13 candidates applied for the position, including two outsiders. Rupert Pennant-Rea, chairman of the Economist Group, told the Guardian, “[Beddoes] will be a true advocate for the Economist and its values.”

[FT]

TIME Media

U.S. Receives 20,000 Copies of Charlie Hebdo

Three major cities will begin offering the newspaper starting Friday

Thousands of copies of Charlie Hebdo will go on sale in the United States beginning Friday, more than two weeks after the deadly terrorist attack on the satirical newspaper’s Paris office.

LMPI, a distributor of foreign magazines and newspapers in the U.S. and Canada, told TIME that 20,000 copies will be offered.

“New copies will be available in New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles,” Martin McEwen, the company’s executive vice president of press distribution, said in a statement. “Chicago should receive copies early next week,” he added, and copies will also become available in other markets.

The new batch follows an initial and very light shipment of 300 copies that made it to New York, San Francisco and several specialized libraries.

Demand for the newspaper, which previously had a circulation of 60,000, has been unprecedented in the wake of the Jan. 7 attack, when two gunmen stormed the weekly’s Paris office and killed 12 people. Eight journalists were among the victims, including editor-in-chief Stéphane Charbonnier.

An initial printing of 1 million was quickly boosted to 3 million, and then 5 million, as it sold out. French press distributor MLP recently announced that figure would hit 7 million.

The issue released on Jan. 14, constructed by surviving staffers at a workspace offered by left-wing daily Libération, is fronted by a provocative cover drawn by Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Rénald Luzier, known as Luz. It features a depiction of the Prophet Muhammad holding a sign that reads “Je Suis Charlie,” a nod to the “I am Charlie” rallying cry in the aftermath of the attack, under the phrase Tout set Pardonné, or “All is forgiven.”

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for the attack as the issue first hit newsstands, saying it was “vengeance for the Messenger of God,” in apparent retaliation for Charlie Hebdo‘s past mocking of the Prophet and Islam. Protests over the new cover have popped up in parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Read next: Charlie Hebdo Attacker Chérif Kouachi Buried in Unmarked Grave

TIME Media

Apple Just Bought This Startup to Help Take On Spotify

Apple Software Bugs
An Apple Inc. logo is displayed on the company's iPhone 6 Plus inside SoftBank Corp.'s Omotesando store during the sales launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in Tokyo on Sept. 19, 2014. Bloomberg/Getty Images

New acquisition tracks music analytics

Apple has reportedly snapped up a music analytics service as it plots out a future for Beats Music and iTunes.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple recently purchased Semetric, an analytics firm that tracks the way fans consume various forms of entertainment across the Web. The company could give Apple insight to create a music service that gives artists greater opportunities to interact with fans.

Apple would not comment on the acquisition news directly. “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” company spokesman Colin Johnson told TIME.

Apple is planning to integrate Beats Music directly into the next version of its iOS mobile operating system, according to the New York Times. It may drop the price of the subscription music service from the industry-wide standard of $10 per month. It’s not clear what Apple’s plans are for iTunes, which has seen steep declines in music sales as users flock to streaming platforms like Spotify and YouTube.

TIME Media

Amazon Outbid Netflix For Its Most Successful Show

Golden Globes 2015 - Transparent
Jeffrey Tambor stars in Transparent Amazon Studios

Transparent could've been on Netflix

Amazon has been raking in accolades for its new show Transparent, which stars Jeffrey Tambor as a transgender parent that comes out to her children. But the show could have belonged to Netflix.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings told the Huffington Post that Amazon outbid his company for streaming rights to Transparent, which first aired its pilot on Amazon in February. The show has since been hailed by critics, recently picking up a Golden Globe for best TV series.

Amazon’s success with Transparent demonstrates just how competitive the market for premium television is becoming. In the same interview, Hastings told the Huffington Post that Netflix managed to outbid HBO for House of Cards, while HBO ended up snagging the rights to True Detective.

[The Huffington Post]

TIME Media

2015 Will Be the Year Netflix Goes ‘Full HBO’

The streaming service is putting an increasing emphasis on original shows

“The goal is to become HBO faster than HBO can become us,” Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos famously told GQ in 2013. Back then, no one, including Sarandos himself, knew whether anyone was actually interested in watching original shows made by the company that used to mail them DVDs.

Today, Netflix’s bet looks doubly smart—other tech companies like Amazon, Microsoft and AT&T are making similar investments in original programming, while television stalwarts like CBS, ESPN and, yes, HBO are planning to offer their popular shows to viewers who don’t want to buy a pricey television bundle. The once-separate worlds of “television” and “online video” are going to collide this year, so it’s no surprise Netflix is battening down the hatches with a big rollout of exclusive original shows.

In his quarterly letter to shareholders released Tuesday, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings wrote that the company is planning 320 hours of original programming this year, triple the amount Netflix released in 2014. In addition to third seasons of early standouts like House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black, Netflix will also debut new shows like Marvel’s Daredevil action series and the new Tina Fey-backed comedy Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

This will be the year when Netflix-original shows transform from a novelty to an expectation among subscribers.

This rapid shift in focus isn’t just coming because Netflix execs suddenly crave becoming creative auteurs—it’s a shift necessary to sustain the company’s business model. Licensing costs have soared as content makers realized the value of streaming rights and deep-pocketed competitors like Amazon entered the market. At the same time, HBO and others offering stand-alone versions of their channels to cord-cutters will change what viewers expect of cheap subscription services.

Great premium, original content is more necessary than ever — but it’s harder than ever to get a hold of. No wonder Netflix is trying to bankroll the content itself.

Indeed, Netflix noted in its shareholder letter that its original shows have been some of the most cost-efficient in the company’s stable. “Our originals cost us less money, relative to our viewing metrics, than most of our licensed content, much of which is well known and created by the top studios,” the company wrote.

The only trouble with Netflix’s plan is ensuring all this content they’re rolling out is stuff people will actually enjoy watching. The company has cast House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black as hits without divulging how many people actually watched them. It’s trying to do the same with Marco Polo, even though many critics have panned the show (Netflix has shot back at critics by pointing out that the audience rating for Marco Polo on Rotten Tomatoes is nearly as high as that of Game of Thrones).

As the company’s older shows grow long in the tooth, Netflix will have to keep infusing its lineup with new, buzzy shows. That’s a challenge traditional cable networks have faced for decades, and one HBO in particular has been skilled at navigating. Can Netflix do the same? This is the year we find out.

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