1. Comcast to Restructure NBCUniversal Hierarchy Ahead of Peacock Launch
Comcast is reshuffling its senior hierarchy ahead of Peacock’s launch date. The company recently announced that it is consolidating Universal Television and Universal Content Productions under a single business unit to be led by NBCUniversal cable’s chairman, Bonnie Hammer.
Hammer will assume the title of Chairman for NBCUniversal Content Studios and will report to NBCU CEO Steve Burk. The reorganization is being carried out in preparation for Peacock’s launch, Comcast new streaming service, which is to be headed by Comcast Cable’s Matt Strauss.
According to Burke, Hammer was chosen for her ‘strong track record of generating popular and award-winning programming,’ whereas Strauss was selected for his ‘great experience with video, digital technology, and streaming.’
The new appointments are nothing new however. Earlier in January, Hammer was given the position of streaming operations, while NBC Sports Group’s Mark Lazarus was given a bigger role in cable.
2. Lyft Helps Drivers With New Reward System
Lyft recently launched a new ‘driver rewards system’ for their drivers. The system is now live in certain US cities, and was designed to assist drivers manage their daily earnings and workflow.
It also offers many improvements over Lyft’s usual system which only tells drivers about ride-requests and offers them the option to either accept or decline them. In contrast, the new rewards system will allow certain drivers to know how far they will need to drive, how much fare they can expect to receive and how much time they will need to spend driving.
The only downside is that these features will only be available to drivers who have reached Lyft’s ‘gold tier.’ For those who could only reach the lower tiers of the program, however, there are other rewards, such as a 4% cash back on gas when using a Lyft debit card and a $5 cash back for every 500 points achieved in the reward system.
3. Apple’s macOS is Now Available
Apple’s new macOS, Catalina is now live and is available as a free software update. The new OS offers the latest Mac versions for Apple Music, Apple TV and Apple Podcasts as well as Sidecar, a special feature which extends a Mac desktop using an iPad as a secondary display or a tablet input device that has Apple Pencil with Mac apps.
For those who want to add iPad apps to Mac devices, Catalina also features the Mac Catalyst, which allows third party developers to transfer those apps to their Mac devices. Finally, Catalina also allows users to enjoy all of their iPad apps in the latest Mac versions, including Twitter, Post-It, Jira, Tripit and GoodNotes, and it also offers Apple Arcade, Apple’s new gaming subscription service.
4. Tesla Delivers 97,000 Vehicles in 3rd Quarter; Falls Short of Target
Elon Musk had said that Tesla will be able to deliver 360,000 to 400,000 vehicles to consumers in 2019. Unfortunately, reaching this goal remains a difficult challenge.
According to their third quarter report, Tesla only managed to deliver 97,000 cars during this period. The total deliveries include 79,600 Model 3 vehicles as well as 17,400 Model S and X cars. In order to reach their year-long goal, however, Tesla will need to complete over 105,000 vehicle deliveries during the fourth quarter.
Although Tesla’s third quarter reports are impressive, it still falls short of achieving investor expectations. Tesla’s deliveries are used as proxies for sales, and a guide for understanding Tesla’s performance across different periods. So although the company’s third quarter data is certainly impressive, investors are wondering if Musk has what it takes to meet their expectations by the end of the year.
5. Alphabet’s Waymo to Map Out LA
Alphabet-owned Waymo is 3-D mapping Los Angeles, its infrastructure and its traffic congestion levels to see if it can operate there. The mapping team consists of a small fleet Chrysler minivans to gather data and analyse how Waymo may be integrated into LA’s transportation environment and offer new innovative solutions to traffic problems.
Although Waymo has no immediate plans to launch its services in Los Angeles, the mapping process represents the first major step in finding a location that could best serve its needs, and such expansions will not be out of the ordinary. Waymo is currently expanding into several states, including Florida, California and Michigan, mainly to test the capabilities of their autonomous driving technology.
Unfortunately, commercializing Waymo’s services is taking longer than expected, and the company can only sustain a full live fleet of vehicles in Phoenix, and even then, the vehicles are still maintained by human operators.
6. Wallstreet Analysts Slashing Netflix Forecasts Ahead of Possible Weak Earnings Report
Wallstreet analysts are slashing their forecasts for Netflix ahead of the company’s third quarter earnings report due to increasing competition and slow subscriber growth. Goldman Sach analysts, in particular, believe that subscriptions are falling ‘modestly below guidance’ whereas UBS is citing weak international growth as a cause for concern. Consequently, both firms have reduced their target price for Netflix stocks.
On the bright side, there’s news that Netflix may have a strong fourth quarter due to additional content line up, such as The Irishman and older favorites like The Crown. Some analysts believe that the new shows could potentially bolster Netflix’subscriber growth numbers as well as offer protection against increasing competition.
7. Activision Blizzard’s Complicated Political Balancing Act
Activision Blizzard is currently on hot water as it tries to navigate an increasingly complicated political situation. Ever since the company suspended one of its players from an e-sports competition over certain pro-Hong Kong comments, it has been on hot water.
The suspension was seen as an attempt to pander to Chinese authorities, and consequently, sparked a backlash from pro-Hong Kong protestors, including several groups in the US who are calling for a boycott. In fact, #BoycottBlizzard became one of the top trending hashtags on Wednesday.
The latest casualty in this political drama is the company’s ‘Call of Duty Mobile,’ which is still waiting for approval from the Chinese government. Expanding into the Chinese market would significantly boost sales for the new game, but the banning controversy is complicating Activision Blizzard’s plans.