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Read Now: House of the Dragon is coming to HBO. So is the Netflix Chill. – 101 Latest News



House of the Dragon is coming to HBO. So is the Netflix Chill.

#House #Dragon #coming #HBO #Netflix #Chill

It’s just like old times at HBO — plenty of scheming, betrayal, blood-letting.

Oh! And they have that on screen too: House of the Dragon, better known as The Sequel to Game of Thrones That’s Really a Prequel But Whatever It Is, It’d Better Work, debuts this Sunday. I’ve seen the first episode and, without breaking any embargoes, I can tell you that it features at least one dragon.

But it’s the behind-the-scenes drama at HBO and Warner Brothers Discovery, the company that owns the programmer plus CNN and Warner Bros. studio, that has people in medialand chattering. What exactly is happening to some of the world’s most storied media brands? And for the rest of us, all of this matters, too: What’s going to happen to all the stuff we like to watch on our screens?

We got the newest chapter earlier this week, when HBOMax — the streaming service that includes HBO as well as a bunch of other programming — let go of 70 people. That’s 14 percent of its staff, and it’s the first of multiple waves of layoffs throughout Warner Brothers Discovery that sources tell me will extend through the fall. And it comes on the heels of several moves — like killing off CNN+ days after it launched, mothballing the finished Batgirl movie before ever showing it to the public, and pulling made-for-HBOMax movies like Seth Rogen’s An American Pickle and Anne Hathaway’s The Witches off HBOMax — that indicate the company formerly known as WarnerMedia, once one of the most powerful media companies on the globe, is now trying to shrink itself to survive.

It’s a nearly complete turnaround from the playbook WarnerMedia’s previous owners were using, and we can discuss the details in a minute. But the big picture is this: Remember the Netflix Chill I told you about earlier this year — Hollywood’s uneasy fear that the problems that brought Netflix to a halt would show up in the rest of the media world, too? That’s officially happening.

And it means that the endless stream of movies and shows we’ve gotten used to isn’t going to go on forever. Streaming isn’t going away — as much as some execs might like — but the endless budget that Big Media has been throwing at it does turn out to have an end after all. Case in point: Demimonde, a Big Deal sci-fi series from J.J. Abrams — the producer/director who brought you Lost and the latest round of Star Wars reboots and lots of other stuff you like and Hollywood values — was supposed to be an HBO show. But now it’s not because HBO doesn’t want to pay for its reported “mid-$200 million” budget.

Quick history lesson: The main idea behind AT&T’s acquisition of what was then-called Warner Media — first announced in 2016 but not finished until 2018 — was that the phone company could turn HBO into its own Netflix and that Wall Street would reward AT&T for owning its own Netflix. So in 2021, when it became clear that investors didn’t care about AT&T’s media foray, the company flipped a switch and dumped its entertainment assets to Discovery, the cable TV programmer best known for reality shows like 90 Day Fiancé.

But now Discovery has multiple problems. For starters, it has $53 million in debt, much of it taken on with the Warner deal. Which means instead of spending aggressively to take on Netflix and Disney, it has to look under couch cushions for change, and David Zaslav, the CEO of the newly combined company, has promised Wall Street he’ll find $3 billion in cost savings … somewhere.

But the bigger problem is one that everyone in streaming — including Netflix — is grappling with now: Wall Street no longer likes Netflix. Netflix’s stock, which got as high as $700 last fall, is now down 50 percent because Netflix’s 10-year record rocketship growth appears over: During the first six months of this year, it actually lost subscribers. So now Wall Street, which had encouraged media companies to adopt Netflix’s growth-first, profits-maybe-later strategy, wants them to change course. (One important exemption from this: Amazon and Apple, which are tech companies dabbling in media, so they can basically spend whatever they want on programming: See Amazon’s Rings Of Power — a gazillion-dollar Lord of the Rings prequel that is very much supposed to be Amazon’s Game of Thrones. Not coincidentally, it will debut a couple weeks after House of the Dragon.)

At Netflix, that means layoffs, an unprecedented move to add ads to a lower-priced tier of its service, and an end to ever-increasing content budgets.

And at Warner Brothers Discovery, it means cuts everywhere — jobs, first and foremost, but also expensive bets like CNN+, the streaming service that Discovery canceled just weeks after launch.

It also means Discovery is unwinding other projects undertaken by Warner’s previous management. Remember during the pandemic, when Warner put all of its movies on HBOMax the day they debuted in theaters — and then, post-ish pandemic, said that some movies would still stream right away but others would show up 45 days later? That’s gone: Zaslav has said that if Warner makes movies they should show up in movie theaters — and Elvis, which would already be streaming under the previous 45-day plan, is still not on HBOMax.

Just as big a deal, at least in the eyes of former Warner execs: Under Zaslav, the company is preparing to start selling HBOMax via Amazon again — undoing a deal the previous regime made to stop working with Amazon, which it viewed as a competitor that would ultimately undermine the company’s ability to sell directly to consumers.

The vitriol over this stuff between Warners’ new and old management is entertaining for professional media watchers like me. But it matters beyond industry gossip because it represents two very different ideas about how to run a media company: Discovery CEO David Zaslav and his team have gone out of their way to portray their predecessors, led by former WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, as starry-eyed technologists who caught the streaming bug and couldn’t think about anything else. And former Warner people I’ve talked to think the Discovery guys (yup, mostly guys) only know how to merge, cut, and hope someone else buys them sooner than later, not how to grow a business for the long term.

The truth is probably a little bit of both. “We got to be a little crazy,” a former WarnerMedia executive concedes. “But we knew we weren’t going to do it forever. I do think it’s right to pull back a little now.”

Or, as HBO programming boss Casey Bloys diplomatically told me this week: “We’re at a time where [you have] the cable bundle, which is still a good business but is declining, and the streaming business, which is ascendant but people haven’t made much money on. So you’re trying to find a balance.”

And despite what you may have read or heard, HBO’s new owners aren’t radically shrinking HBO, says Bloys, the executive who brought you all the HBO shows you’ve liked for the last several years — and who not coincidentally recently renewed his contract there. “Our budget is going to continue to grow,” he said.

But Bloys — and everyone else managing businesses at Warner — is going to be asked to make less stuff and hope that the stuff he does make really breaks through — hence the increased stakes of House of the Dragon. HBO’s first attempt to build on its Game of Thrones success would be a big deal under any circumstances. But now? It’s going to be a really big deal, even as Bloys attempts to manage expectations.

And yes, Discovery plans to merge its streaming service with HBO Max sometime next year. Which means that at some point you’ll have the ability to subscribe to something that includes both House of the Dragon and Dr. Pimple Popper, a Discovery reality show that’s just what you think it’s about. You can turn up your nose at that pairing — or you can acknowledge that it’s a lot like TV used to be, when in order to subscribe to HBO, you also had to get a package of cable channels that were nothing like HBO. Streaming’s not going anywhere, but the cable TV model is going to stick around for a while longer, too.


Read Now: Get 3 months of Adobe CC access plus 100GB of storage for just $30 – 101 Latest News



Adobe Creative Cloud All Apps 100GB: 3-Month Subscription

#months #Adobe #access #100GB #storage

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Read Now: States With Deregulated Energy: The Pros and Cons of Choosing Your Energy Provider – CNET – 101 Latest News



homes with electrical lines at sunset

#States #Deregulated #Energy #Pros #Cons #Choosing #Energy #Provider #CNET

The power of choice is a wonderful thing. And depending on where you live, you may be able to choose your energy provider.  

It’s called energy deregulation, and about 40 percent of US states have it. Commonly known as retail choice, in deregulated states residents have a say in where they get their energy. In these states, public utilities function like any other business: Competitors provide options, and residents choose how to spend their money. 

In regulated markets, however, electricity comes from a designated utility provider and you don’t have a choice. Regulated energy markets create a form of monopoly, meaning no competitors to choose from or switch to, but in which the public utility is still controlled by the state government. 

Which method is most beneficial for the people? Which states have it right? “It’s a question of whether you believe that a free-market environment is best for consumers or that a regulated monopoly is best for consumers,” Joshua Basseches, an assistant professor of public policy and environmental studies at Tulane University, told CNET. 

Here’s what you need to know about energy deregulation, how it works, and whether your state offers you the option to choose.  

For more information on deregulated energy rates and companies, check out CNET partner site, which, like CNET, is owned by Red Ventures.

What is energy deregulation and how does it work?

Energy deregulation refers to a utility system of retail choice, where different companies other than the existing energy utility are able to offer different packages of deals, giving customers a choice of who they purchase energy from.  

In states without a deregulated utility environment, governing bodies manage a regulated monopoly, where one company provides the utility across the state, with rates and prices controlled by the government. 

Whether a state is deregulated or not, that particular state’s utilities are managed by its public utility commission, or PUC, a governing body that regulates public utility rates and services. Different public utility commissions operate in different ways, but their ultimate goal is to represent citizens’ interests when determining utility policies. 

Even in deregulated states, that regulation still exists. That’s why Basseches refers to deregulation as a misnomer — instead, he prefers to use the term “restructured.” 

“What’s often referred to as deregulation is the difference between what’s known as a vertically integrated utility monopoly enterprise — where the utility company generates, transmits and distributes electricity — and a deregulated or restructured environment, where various aspects of that supply chain are opened up to competition and only parts of the cost are regulated by the commissions,” he said.

A brief history of energy deregulation

Beginning in the early 1900s during the early days of electricity commercialization, companies began approaching state legislators to set up a regulatory compact, which became the regulated utilities we know today. That system largely stayed the same until, beginning with The Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) and continuing on through the 1990s, a series of legislation allowed states the authority to deregulate or restructure. 

But not every state decided to do so, and decisions were made based on each state’s belief as to what would most benefit residents. Today, about 20 states have some form of deregulated or restructured system, with the majority of states still working with regulated monopolies. 

Deregulated vs. regulated energy markets: the pros and cons

Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer as to whether regulation or deregulation provides a better outcome for the everyday resident. Even for Basseches, an expert who’s spent the last six years on a book project about state-level renewable energy policy, the issue is too complicated to come down on one side or the other.

He says it’s unclear, on a systematic level, whether deregulation has led to decreases in electricity rates. Factors from weather to the war in Ukraine can affect those rates, and even for experts, it’s too difficult to say definitively that one method is the right one. 

“You can look at electricity prices over time and see that they’ve gone up and down, but it’s hard to attribute that,” he said. “They’ve gone up and down both in restructured and traditionally regulated jurisdictions. So in cases where costs went down, it’s hard to say that it’s because of restructuring. But what is clear is that restructuring gives consumers more choice and more direct say in what kind of electricity they want and how much they’ll pay for it.”

Pros of energy deregulation

Basseches and other industry experts say deregulation proponents point to examples like the following as pros of deregulated energy:

  • Deregulated markets give power of choice to the consumer. 
  • Competition should even the playing field against the power of a utility monopoly. 
  • Utility monopolies are less focused on the consumer’s best interest.
  • Deregulated markets tend to be more open to changes like clean energy adoption and technology improvements.

The biggest and most obvious benefit of a deregulated environment is that it gives choice to the people. In an ideal world, PUCs would be trusted to provide the best option for all. But that isn’t always the case, and it isn’t always easy for the consumer to tell. For Basseches, that’s what makes it a worthwhile change. 

“What I like about competition is that, in the absence of transparency, you can have some faith that there’s some check on the power of the utility monopoly by virtue of competition and market forces,” he said. 

A deregulated or restructured system also takes power away from long-standing monopolies. Often, providers have been in place for decades, and critics say they’re focused less on what’s best for consumers and more on maintaining the status quo. 

“What you have to worry about with a regulated monopoly is that it will be best for the monopoly company and not the consumers,” Basseches said. 

Public utilities are usually behemoths that are resistant to change. Basseches says a restructured (deregulated) state can create an environment where companies are able to be more nimble and able to change. That means quicker adoption of new technology, more alternatives and even better options for clean energy. 

“For those who care about climate change and environmental issues, it’s been much easier for renewable energy to penetrate the market in deregulated environments,” he said. “If wind and solar are the cheapest resource and you no longer have utilities owning all the generation, they’re not going to be fighting regulators to hold on to things that are no longer economical but that they’ve invested in.” 

Cons of energy deregulation

  • Responsibility lies with the consumer.
  • Energy shopping experience can be complicated.
  • Consumer education is needed to navigate. 
  • Competition and deregulated market creates opportunity for bad actors or scams.

In a deregulated or restructured environment, the choice is with the consumers — but so is the responsibility. Most people don’t know much about public utilities or energy policy, so they’re required to be more informed in order to make good decisions in a deregulated system. That can lead to wasting or not fully realizing the benefits that choice provides. 

“Usually, if consumers don’t choose an alternative, they’re given the default service provider, which is typically the local utility,” Basseches said. “So it does require the consumer to be more educated.”

Just because a state is deregulated doesn’t mean that state’s PUC is any less important. In fact, in a deregulated state, that commission is the only thing standing in the way of bad actors, which means people and states can be taken advantage of. 

“It really just depends on the vigilance of these public utility commissions,” Basseches said. “One thing I always tell people is to pay attention to public utility commissions. If they’re doing their jobs effectively, they provide a safeguard against exploitation.” 

What US states are deregulated for electricity or natural gas? 

Most states still have regulated utility providers. Just 18 states (and the District of Columbia) have deregulated markets. 

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, 13 states (and the District of Columbia) have fully deregulated or restructured electricity utilities:

  1. Connecticut.
  2. Delaware.
  3. DC
  4. Illinois.
  5. Maine.
  6. Maryland.
  7. New Hampshire.
  8. New Jersey.
  9. New York.
  10.  Ohio.
  11.  Pennsylvania.
  12.  Rhode Island.
  13.  Texas.

Another five states have partially deregulated or restructured environments:

  1. California.
  2. Georgia.
  3. Michigan.
  4. Oregon.
  5. Virginia.

How to find the best electricity provider in Texas

Basseches said Texas is “a poster child for a fully restructured electricity sector” and called it “extremely restructured.” 

“Restructuring is a continuum and it’s very complex and multilayered,” Basseches said. “Restructuring isn’t just a switch, there are different degrees. And Texas is the most restructured.”

Texas has a wider selection of providers than anywhere else in the country, which is why Basseches advises residents to be as informed as possible when making their choices in “this system on steroids.” Texas residents are likely to receive more solicitations from different suppliers, and the choice can be overwhelming. His advice is simply to seek as much information as possible. 

“Talk to your neighbors,” he said. “The same way you’d make a choice about purchasing a new car, talk to your neighbors, talk to people you trust, and know that the public utility commission works for you and your tax dollars. Don’t be afraid to ask them for help.”

For more information, here’s the Texas PUC Facts and FAQs page and the state’s government-run comparison website: When shopping for electricity plans on any website, before enrolling, make sure to read through the electricity facts label (EFL) or “fact sheet” to learn about the details of each plan. 

How to find the best electricity provider in other states

For Basseches, the best first step in any state is to start with the public utility commissions, or PUCs, whose websites should have information on competitive suppliers, options and more. 

Before making a choice, be sure to read up on options, understand the dynamics of the different companies involved and educate yourself on lingo, pricing and more. 

“Just like investing in the stock market, there’s going to be some risk,” Basseches said. “But the public utility commission does work for the people and they do have the most knowledge because companies have to register with them. So my advice is to get to know your public utility commission, read things carefully and know that everyone is vying for your business. Just like anything else, you have to pay attention.”

Public utility commission websites:

Energy deregulation FAQ

What does deregulation mean in energy?

Deregulation refers to a utility system of retail choice, where different companies other than the existing energy utility are able to offer different packages of deals, giving customers a choice of who they purchase energy from.  

In states with a regulated utility environment, governing bodies manage a regulated monopoly, where one company provides the utility across the state, with rates and prices controlled by the government. 

What are the disadvantages of deregulation in energy?

In a deregulated or restructured environment, both the choice and the responsibility lies with the consumer. Most people don’t know much about public utilities or energy policy, so they’re required to be more informed in order to make good decisions in a deregulated system. That can lead to wasting the benefits that choice provides and can allow unethical companies to take advantage. 

When was US energy deregulated?

Beginning with The Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 and continuing on through the 1990s, a series of legislative measures gave states the authority to deregulate or restructure. Today, less than half of US states have deregulated their electricity utility. 

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Read Now: Gig workers get paid, Fidelity slashes Reddit’s valuation and AI conquers Minecraft – 101 Latest News



Gig workers get paid, Fidelity slashes Reddit’s valuation and AI conquers Minecraft

#Gig #workers #paid #Fidelity #slashes #Reddits #valuation #conquers #Minecraft

Hey, folks, welcome to Week in Review (WiR), TechCrunch’s regular newsletter that recaps the week in tech. Hope the summer’s treating y’all well — it’s a balmy 90 degrees here in NYC! — and that some much-needed R&R is on the agenda.

Speaking of “agenda,” mark your calendars for Disrupt, TC’s annual conference, kicking off in September. Whether you’re a startup rookie learning the ropes or a founder hell-bent on changing the world, Disrupt will deliver the tools, knowledge and connections to help you make it happen. You don’t want to miss it.

Elsewhere, stay tuned for City Spotlight on June 7 (Wednesday), which will highlight Atlanta, Georgia, this go-round. Atlanta has emerged as one of the buzziest new hubs in the nation, with booming cybersecurity and software-as-a-service sectors as well as a slew of investors looking to back the hot new startups coming from the metro. Among the speakers at City Spotlight will be mayor Andre Dickens — we’re looking forward to hearing his perspective.

Now with the PSAs out of the way, here’s your WiR!

most read

Fidelity sours on Reddit: This week, Fidelity, the lead investor in Reddit’s most recent funding round in 2021, slashed the estimated worth of its equity stake in the social media platform by 41% since the investment. The devaluation, part of a broader trend that has hit a variety of growth-stage startups across the globe in the past year, raises uncertainties about whether Reddit will maintain its initial intent to reportedly go public at a valuation around $15 billion.

Amazon Prime Data: Amazon is considering offering low-cost or possibly free nationwide mobile phone service to Prime subscribers in the United States, according to a new report from Bloomberg. The tech giant is reportedly in talks with Verizon, T-Mobile, Dish Network and AT&T.

Gig workers get paid: Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and other app-based ride-hail and delivery companies will have to reimburse California gig workers potentially millions of dollars for unpaid vehicle expenses between 2022 and 2023. The back payments come from a provision in Proposition 22, the controversial law that classifies gig workers as independent contractors rather than employees and promises them half-hearted protections and benefits.

Volkswagen’s ace in the hole: Volkswagen is betting big on the upcoming ID.Buzz electric van. With availability of the vehicle still a year out, the automaker is counting on years of pent-up anticipation to not only sell the bus shrouded in nostalgia, but to also have it act as a halo product to bring customers to the brand’s entire EV lineup.

Shopify launches Shop Cash: Shopify’s Shop app is introducing a new rewards program called Shop Cash, the e-commerce platform announced on Friday. The new program is funded by Shopify and earns shoppers 1% back on purchases made using its Shop Pay online checkout service.

Stripe gets into credit: Stripe wants to make it easier for businesses to access credit. The private financial infrastructure giant announced a new charge card program today from Stripe Issuing, its commercial card issuing product. Denise Ho, head of product at Stripe, gave TechCrunch the exclusive details — go read the piece by Mary Ann.

AI conquers Minecraft: AI researchers have built a Minecraft bot that can explore and expand its capabilities in the game’s open world — but unlike other bots, this one basically wrote its own code through trial and error and lots of GPT-4 queries. Called Voyager, this experimental system is an example of an “embodied agent,” an AI that can move and act freely and purposefully in a simulated or real environment.

YouTube Shorts, in minutes: Dumme, a startup putting AI to practical use in video editing, is already generating demand before opening to the public. The Y Combinator–backed company has hundreds of video creators testing its product, which leverages AI to create short-form videos from YouTube content, and it has a waitlist of over 20,000 pre-launch, it says.


Need a new podcast to get your weekend started right? Good news — TC has you covered (and then some). On Equity, the crew took a look at the latest from Web Roulette, Stripe’s acquisition of Okay, what Klarna’s Q1 means for the fintech market and QED and a16z’s early-stage strategies. Found spoke with Dr. Stacy Blain, the co-founder and chief science officer at Concarlo Therapeutics, about the company’s novel therapeutic solutions for drug-resistant cancer. Over at Chain Reaction, Gary Vaynerchuk, the chairman of VaynerX and the CEO of VaynerMedia and NFT collection VeeFriends, spoke on his experiences in the creative media industry. And the TechCrunch Live folks dove into how AI doomerism is overblown — and why the blowhards doing the blowing want it that way.


TC+ subscribers get access to in-depth commentary, analysis and surveys — which you know if you’re already a subscriber. If you’re not, consider signing up. Here are a few highlights from this week:

Competition concerns in the age of AI: AI is rapidly changing how businesses sense, reason and adapt in the market. But these groundbreaking capabilities are creating an upheaval in how companies engage with competitors and consumers. Henry Hauser is counsel in Perkins Coie’s antitrust and litigation practice groups. He muses on this in an informative piece.

Salesforce becomes a data company: Could the data exhaust being generated by the Salesforce family of products become more valuable than the products themselves — at least in terms of new revenue adds? This piece explores the possibility.

Why don’t more scientists become founders?: Why is it so common to see outsiders bringing research out of the lab and not the scientists themselves? It’s a complex issue to unravel, but Rebecca does it deftly.

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