Did Jason Garrett just save his job with a blowout over the Redskins? – Blogging The Boys (blog)

Blogging The Boys (blog)

Did Jason Garrett just save his job with a blowout over the Redskins?
Blogging The Boys (blog)
Many will shake their heads and remind us about mediocre seasons, but he managed to keep the Cowboys competitive while enduring some substantial dead money hits. Over his first five years, the Cowboys averaged $20 million in dead money. Think about

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Cowboys defense created a mirage for the offensive effort on Thursday night – Blogging The Boys (blog)

Blogging The Boys (blog)

Cowboys defense created a mirage for the offensive effort on Thursday night
Blogging The Boys (blog)
The Cowboys 38 points is great and made us feel good, but was it for real? by RJ Ochoa@rjochoa Dec 2, 2017, 3:00pm CST. tweet · share · pin · Rec. Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images. Much has been made about how ineffective the Dallas Cowboys had been

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Jodie Foster on Wall Streets Rigged System, Mel Gibson, and Stars Right to Privacy

The director of Money Monster, starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts, opens up about the financial crisis and why she will always support her controversial pal Mel Gibson.


Almost five years to the date after releasing her last movie as director, two-time Oscar winner Jodie Foster returns behind the camera onMoney Monster, a Wall Street thriller starring George Clooney as an egocentric cable finance news host whos taken hostage on-air by a disgruntled young investor.

Of course, even someone of Fosters caliber had a bit of a rough go the last time around.

One of the most recognizable names in Hollywood thanks to a nearly five-decade career that began at age 3 and includes films like Taxi Driver, The Accused, The Silence of the Lambs, Panic Room, and Little Man Tate, her first foray as a director, Foster had to hold it down on the press tour for 2011sThe Beaverwhen the controversial personal troubles of her star Mel Gibson turned America off of the film en masse.

Looking back now, Foster reflects on the public stand she took for her longtime friend. Ive known him for 20-something years, and hes someone that I really love and I really care about, she told The Daily Beast on a recent afternoon in Beverly Hills. I obviously cant condone his behaviorhis private behavior. What do I know about his private behavior? But Idoknow the man I know, who is an extraordinary artist. I know the experiences Ive had with him and thats really the only thing I can attest to.

I think if someone you love is struggling, you dont disown them and run in the opposite direction, she added. I think you try to be compassionate, and try to understand their struggle. Try to help them.

For her next directorial effort afterThe Beaver, Foster sought just the right project. She boardedMoney Monsterin 2012, choosing the story of a flawed and unlikeable male celebrity whose public ugliness is exposed as America watchesand whom the audience is then asked to give the chance to regain his humanity as the film progresses.

Foster confirms the unintentional parallels between Gibson and herMoney Monsterantihero: And I have real feelings about whats public and privateand a real sense of loyalty to the people who are struggling, trying to survive a public life. I think you feel terribly alone, and I guess Im out there saying, Youre not alone. Whether its him or other people that have gone through similar situations.

But Mel is an extraordinary director, and I have to say, I think hes the most loved actor Ive ever worked withnot just by me, by all the technicians and everybody whos worked with him, she added. Thats just the truth, and obviously we all have complicated truths that come with us.

Money Monsterarrives after the Academy Awards triumph of another financial wake-up call to America, ParamountsThe Big Short, put the twisty legalities and deliberately confusing jargon of Wall Street on display to shocking effect. But rather than finger the real-life figures culpable for the nations financial instability, the script by Alan DiFiore, Jim Kouf, and Jamie Linden charts a more traditional fictional route through taut crime-thriller territory. Its more like, say, Inside Man, the 2006 hit Foster co-starred in for Spike Leeonly set against the chaotic backdrop of the country rebuilding itself after the housing crisis.

The mortgage crisis was fresh in our minds, and a lot of regulation has happened since then to try to sort of stump up the tide, Foster said. Wall Street is really back to business as usual with these regulations, which have created shorter margins for people. So they have to find new creative ways to make more amounts of money because its harder to make money now.

Thatswhere things get dangerous, she noted, and that was the inspiration for the plot of the movie. What are people going to have to do now that banks are closing, that the federal government has closed some of these loopholes? Where are they going to start pulling their money from?

The system is engineered specifically and the rules are written by the very few people who could ever understand the rules, so that they could benefit from them. It is a rigged system. We all know that, and weve accepted that. Its a system that was engineered to create middlemen so that the middlemen could take money from both sides. Like scalpers! And at some point there will be an implosion, because they have to keep finding more margins of benefit.

The incident that sparks working-class New Yorker Kyle Budwell (Jack OConnell) to sneak into the TV station where Lee Gates (Clooney) is broadcasting live to his audience of investment-hungry fans about a massive overnight loss of $800 million that trading fund Ibis Clear Capital blames on a glitch in their algorithm.

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There have been a lot of glitches, said Foster. Knight Capital lost $440 million in 30 minutes, and then went bankrupt that day. And it was a glitch. They didnt find out for a very long time what happened. It took them yearsand they still dont know. They believe it was whats called a fat finger, that somebody pushed a button on a zero and left it on there too long.

There was a crash not too long ago, a glitch crash that originated out of Chicago, and they still dont really understand it, she continued. Thats the problem. Technology has created these systems; weve created these computer systems and mathematical equations that are responding to each other. We dont control them, and now they are corresponding.

Its no coincidence that the men of Money MonsterClooneys unwittingly complicit Gates, OConnells desperate Budwell, and Dominic West as the CEO of Ibis Capitalare the ones whose collective hubris and need to find self-value in money initiate ruin for everyone around them. Gatess saving grace is his producer Patty Fens (Julia Roberts), who stays behind as the station is hijacked by a gunman and helps guide Clooneys self-centered talking head toward something resembling heroism.

Its a sad fact that all of these guys feel so bad about themselves, said Foster. I think thats an interesting part of the male psyche, that they are always looking for their value in other peoples eyesespecially the strong women that are disappointed by them. And in this film, we have three incredibly strong women that are dealing with babies, really.

Foster also happens to be issuing her warning shot to Americas financial institutions in a climate of looming doom and gloom, thanks to an all-too real circus thats mutated into something stranger than fiction: Novembers presidential election.

I couldnt make up whats happening right now! she laughed. I mean, itsabsurd. Its absolutely absurd. If I had put it in a movie they would have thought I was crazy. They would have said it was satire.

Its a really interesting time in history. And its symptomatic, I think, of people being just mad. People are mad, and they dont even know why. They just know that they dont want it to be the way it was, meaning that they dont want the status quo, and they want things to change. They also have this thirst for entertainment. They expect to be entertained 24-7.

Blame the never-ending news cycle that spits out figures like the fictional Gates to info-tain the nation every morning. Foster admits she was once much more of a newshound before the unrelenting stream of news became overwhelming.

For the first five years of that 24-hour news cycle you go, This isfantastic. I can turn on the news any time! And after a while, you dont want any more news, she smiled. Foster considered the paradox of modern existence: interacting with just about anyone these days when you, like her, have chosen to live a life unglued from your screens, your devices, and your television sets.

I dont really know whats going on, very much. Everybody else seems to. Like, Imsureyou saw that thing on YouTube But no! I dont know whats going on. I barely watch TV. Im never plugged in. Im not doing anything, thoughits not like Im getting a Nobel Prize for all the work Im doing in physics. Or reading, you know, Ulysses.

How do these people have all the time to know the things that they know? She searched for the answer to her own question, and smiled. I think Im just not Im not a fact person. I dont really care about facts. I dont even really retain them and I find them anxious-making. I likeideas.

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Friday Cat Blogging – 1 December 2017 – Mother Jones

Mother Jones

Friday Cat Blogging – 1 December 2017
Mother Jones
Last week I was looking out the window and noticed that the sun was shining brightly on my neighbor's bougainvillea plant. Then one of the cats walked by on the top of the fence. I went out with my camera and immediately realized that a picture of a

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Bond Managers Who Can Go Anywhere May End Up in the Wrong Place

Leon LaBreque, a financial adviser from Troy, Mich., was wowed back in 2011 when he heard the pitch for the Goldman Sachs Strategic Income Fund. It was a new kind of fixed-income portfolio whose managers had the freedom to buy just about anything. Along with bonds, they might bet on emerging-markets currencies or lend U.S. dollars to Japanese investors—and they could draw on the global expertise of Goldman Sachs. “The story was so compelling, and the people were so smart,” LaBreque says. “I thought, how could it not work?”

He wasn’t the only person looking for this kind of fund, and Goldman Sachs wouldn’t be the only company to offer one. By the early 2010s, bonds had been in a decades-long bull market, and the Federal Reserve’s benchmark interest rate was near zero, with nowhere to go but up. Because bond prices fall as rates rise, a nasty turn in the U.S. bond market seemed inevitable to many. That made the idea of a fund with the flexibility to make other kinds of bets more appealing. “This portfolio has a shot at making money in any rate environment,” said Mike Swell, co-manager of the Goldman Sachs fund, in a December 2013 interview with Bloomberg. Over the next several years, many other mutual fund companies introduced “unconstrained” bond portfolios with a similar pitch.

With strong initial returns, the Goldman Sachs fund grew to an impressive $26 billion in assets by 2014. But its performance deteriorated, the result of mistimed calls on interest rates and the strength of corporate credit. In 2014, for example, the managers had positioned the fund to take advantage of rising U.S. rates. Instead, rates fell sharply. Over the past three years, its annual average return has been slightly negative. LaBreque grew disillusioned and withdrew his clients’ money, part of a redemption wave that has cut the fund’s assets down to $6.6 billion.

Other nontraditional bond funds have done better, returning an average of 2.45 percent annually over the past three years, according to Morningstar Inc. Many benefited from the continued rally in plain-vanilla U.S. corporate bonds, which also helped regular intermediate-term bond funds earn 2.19 percent per year. Over five years, nontraditional and intermediate-term funds are neck-and-neck, with an average return of 2.14 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively.

Unconstrained funds will have a shot at pulling ahead if U.S. rates start a steady march upward, but there’s no guarantee a manager with such a broad mandate will time the shift correctly. Fidelity Investments—one of the biggest money managers, with $2.13 trillion in assets—says this is why it never opened an unconstrained fund. “One of our investment beliefs is that predicting interest rates is extremely challenging and that very few people have been able to do it consistently,” wrote spokeswoman Sophie Launay in an email.

Rate forecasting “works if you have a crystal ball,” says Jeffrey Klingelhofer, one of the managers of the Thornburg Strategic Income Fund, which invests in a range of corporate securities but isn’t considered unconstrained. “But a lot of investors forget that none of us do, which we’ve been humbly reminded of time and again.”

Swell acknowledges that the Goldman Sachs fund’s performance has been “lackluster,” but he remains committed to its go-anywhere style. Many bond funds, he says, have benefited from the “free money” the world’s central banks provided in the aftermath of the financial crisis, lifting everything, including Treasuries, mortgages, and corporate bonds. But as the Federal Reserve begins to return to a more normal policy, that era could be ending.

Although Swell isn’t predicting when rates might swing in his favor, he says there’s likely to be more volatility and tougher times for assets that have done well up until now. “A lot of people have gotten rich being lazy long in credit,” he says, referring to investors who have done well by sticking to a bullish stance on bonds. Swell says the best chance to make money now is through trades that play off differences in currencies, interest rates, and yield curves around the world. “We think the more balls you have in the air, the better,” he says. “Diversification is key.”

Michael Rosen, chief investment officer at Angeles Investment Advisors LLC in Santa Monica, Calif., remains skeptical. As a group, he says, unconstrained bond funds have yet to prove they can add value for investors. “They asked for fewer constraints so they could make bets and show how smart they are,” he says. “It turns out they are not that smart.”

    BOTTOM LINE – Unconstrained funds aim to deliver returns whether bond markets are rising or falling, but sometimes they miss out.

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    Will Ivanka’s role in the White House pay dividends for her business?

    (CNN)As the President got ready to sell his latest executive order to the American public, an overhaul of the H-1B skilled worker visa program, under his “Buy American, Hire American” slogan, Ivanka Trump appeared to be busy protecting the real emerald of the Trump family’s vast business empire: China.

    On April 6, hours before she and her husband dined with the Chinese President and his family, Ivanka’s company secured provisional approval for three new trademarks to sell her brand’s jewelry, bags and spa services in the world’s second-largest economy.
    Though there is no direct evidence linking her trademark approval to the dinner or any other meeting with the Chinese government, the story does draw attention to the fine line the Trump White House is walking when it comes to maintaining its family businesses.
      All the Trump family knows is how to make and close business deals. However, now that they are in politics — representing America on the world’s stage — they cannot use the White House to make money for the Trump family brand. And they certainly should avoid any appearance of impropriety.
      The trademarks are just the latest in a string of international trademarks the Trump family has secured since Donald Trump won the presidency. And despite all the boycotting efforts and attempts to curtail the sale of Ivanka’s brand, business is booming.
      The brand, which is still owned by Ivanka, who now also holds an official White House role, not only hit record sales this year, but saw its US imports, most of which came from China, increase 166% in 2016.
      According to China’s Trademark Office, Ivanka Trump Marks LLC has 16 registered trademarks in China and 32 pending applications ranging from cosmetics to leather handbags to clothes to spa and beauty services.
      Although not all the applications were filed after Trump won the White House, some were, including five filed last December after Trump’s electoral victory and another four earlier this year after Trump’s inauguration.
      Ivanka’s company said she did not sign off on the new trademark applications, adding that the trademarks are not “not necessarily an indication that the brand is planning to launch a category or a store in a specific territory.”
      However, all this creates the appearance that Ivanka is still intent on maintaining her business portfolio and potentially even pursuing lucrative business deals under the shadow of her father’s White House.
      We have to remember that despite divesting some of her assets and selling $36.7 million in assets to comply with ethics rules, Ivanka still owns her clothing and jewelry brand. And like her father, Ivanka retains her ownership role in her massive global business empire.
      Her lawyer, Jamie Gorelick noted that Ivanka resigned from running the business and put it in trust, adding, “Ivanka has had no involvement with trademark applications submitted by the business.”
      Unlike her father, Ivanka is subject to federal rules that prevent her from participating in matters in which she has a financial interest now that she works in the White House in an official capacity.
      Despite ethics experts raising red flags for months over conflicts of interest between the Trump presidency, his businesses and his family, the unprecedented and unfamiliar nature of Trump’s political landscape is proving to be too convenient for the Trumps, especially Ivanka.
      Now that she is serving in the White House in an unprecedented position, Ivanka is benefiting from loose or nonexistent accountability mechanisms.

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      After all, who wouldn’t want to do business with the President of the United States’ daughter, especially one who holds an office in the West Wing, and all the perks that come with that position?
      And her clothing line isn’t even the only asset of Ivanka’s that we need to worry about. There is also her father’s Trump International Hotel down the street from the White House, in which Ivanka is a multimillion dollar stakeholder, despite ethics experts urging her to stay away from the hotel while holding a government job.
      Will Ivanka Trump be an advocate for women’s rights, climate change or paid family leave? Or is she making it appear she is more interested in pursuing potential business opportunities?
      From what we’ve seen so far, it pays to be the President’s daughter.

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      Revealed: how British American Tobacco exploited war zones to sell cigarettes

      Documents show how the worlds largest publicly traded tobacco company pursued growth and profit amid instability in African and Middle East countries

      British American Tobacco (BAT) has promoted sales of its cigarettes in some of the most fragile, war-torn and unstable countries of Africa and the Middle East, documents seen by the Guardian show.

      tobacco a deadly business

      While civilians were being killed and cities ravaged by violence, BAT pursued opportunities to grow its markets.

      The documents describe how cartons of cigarettes were distributed to traders hidden in black bags in Somalia after Al-Shabaab banned sales and threatened punishments under Sharia law between late 2008 and early 2009.

      They also show that BAT made plans to launch in South Sudan just two days before it gained independence from the north after years of destruction from a civil war that left 4 million people displaced.

      And they tell of a town in eastern DRC that is not on any map, created by BAT to produce and process tobacco leaf, where, according to a whistleblower, millions of dollars were delivered to pay farmers and staff, carried in secretly.

      Paul Hopkins and hired gunmen protecting BAT management and local staff in Mogadishu, Somalia. Photograph: Paul Hopkins

      The documents were shown to the Guardian by Paul Hopkins, who was employed by BAT in Africa for 13 years, until he blew the whistle internally on what he describes as unethical conduct; he was later made redundant and left in December 2015. Hopkins tried suing BAT for unfair dismissal but an employment tribunal in London ruled that his employment contract was governed by Kenyan rather than English law preventing him from further pursuing his claim in the UK.

      The Serious Fraud Office said earlier this month that it was investigating his allegations.

      The details of BATs promotion of cigarettes in troubled countries, come as BAT works to raise financing to conclude its purchase of Reynolds American, which will make it the biggest tobacco company in the world. The revelations also follow a Guardian investigation revealing that BAT and other multinationals have used threats against at least eight African nations, demanding they axe or dilute the kind of tobacco control measures that have saved millions of lives in the west.

      Hopkins says that fragile states were of interest to BAT, in spite of the practical difficulties and dangers involved in moving cartons of cigarettes and money about.

      If you have no government, you have nobody annoying you about health warnings and nicotine content, he told the Guardian. No customs. You basically pay your tax to the local militias on the airfield where you are landing.

      Asked by the Guardian if it had avoided local customs duties and paid cash to local militias, particularly in the DRC, BAT insisted that it observes all relevant laws and regulations in the 200 countries in which it operates and that it had pre-paid excise duty to the DRC government.

      Millions of dollars

      One of the smaller cash drops, worth $2.5 million, which Paul Hopkins says was taken over the Ugandan border to the BAT town of Auzi in DRC Photograph: Paul Hopkins

      Hopkins, a former soldier in the Irish Armys special forces unit, says he was required on several occasions to take millions of dollars in cash into the DRC. He says it was destined for the town of Auzi in the northeast, unnamed on maps.

      Auzi had been built by BAT in the 1950s with a church and a school. It was run by the subsidiary company BAT Leaf. Usually an outside security company took cash into the DRC to pay for the leaf, which was graded in Auzi but then transported through Uganda to Kenya for manufacturing. But while the usual couriers were on leave, Hopkins says he was told to do the run.

      When the weather is not bad, you can drive, said Hopkins. Its about an hour from Arua in Uganda, across wooden bridges and along dirt roads.

      Hopkins has a photograph of a huge stack of notes, totalling $2.5m, that he says he picked up in Kampala and took with him on a Cessna plane that took off from a private airfield outside of the city.

      He says he flew to Arua, where a security company employed by BAT supplied him legally with a pistol. Once on the other side of the Congolese border, he said, I would rent an AK47 for a couple of days.

      But, he said, your best protection was the 40,000-plus farmers [in eastern Congo]. They didnt want the rebels to get you because you were carrying their money. He said he would camouflage the dollars in bags of promotional items, such as BAT hats and pens, which he would give away to the rebels.

      In Somalia, the documents show BAT had a strategy to continue selling its cigarettes in spite of warnings by the fundamentalist group Al-Shabaab that it would punish those who sold them under Sharia law.

      A slide from a powerpoint presentation from 22 June 2011 says: Market Assumptions. Somalia. The No-Smoking ultimatum made by Al-Shabaab now in effect. Cigarettes are now a black market commodity. Distribution is being made in black paper bags. This resulted in about 16% decrease in IMS in May, with 1st week of June already 23% down compared to plan.

      Paul Hopkins says BAT brand cigarettes were hidden in plastic in Somalia after al-Shabaab banned sales. Photograph: Paul Hopkins

      A second slide shows pictures of cartons of BAT brands Sportsman and Royals, packed into unidentifiable gunny bags (hessian sacks) and delivered for sale.

      Hopkins tells of supplying security for the visits of BAT staff to Mogadishu, where they would check the prominence of BAT branded cigarettes on sale in the war-torn city. He has photographs of them posing with local militiamen, hired to protect them.

      Somalia is a profitable market for BAT, he says, because people like the more expensive brands. The whole strategy of the marketing department is to get people smoking cheap brands like Sportsman and migrate them up to the global brands like Dunhill that are more profitable. You go into a market with a value-for-money brand that the poor people can afford, he said.

      That was the strategy in impoverished South Sudan, a new state created after years of war and with millions of people displaced and in dire poverty. Two days before independence was declared on 9 July 2011, BAT met to plan the launch of its cheapest brands in the new state.

      Our strategic intent for this market is to develop sustainable volume initially and the value will come later. The intention is to enter the market with Sportsman and Safari brands which are already widely recognised. The majority of the market is in the Low and Very Low segments, said the minutes of the Project South Sudan Kick Off Meeting.

      A February 2012 document from BATs Group Portfolio Management Office Strategy & Planning stated that the break-even point would be the sale of 75m sticks for year one. The overriding objective of this project was to enter the South Sudan market in Q4 2011 and establish a viable business model with a consumer relevant brand portfolio that delivers a sustainable month on month organic volume growth with the lowest possible investment, it says.

      In the Middle East also, BAT has nurtured sales in what it describes as volatile markets countries emerging out of war or even in the middle of conflict, like Syria. An October 2011 internal BAT publication called ezine says: The Middle East continues to deliver outstanding results in a volatile environment. Dunhill has driven strong share growth in the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council region], and both Iraq and Iran have achieved impressive volume increases

      In Iraq, [the BAT brand] Kent is growing at a spectacular 80% and consolidating its leading position in the premium segment. In Syria, despite very difficult trading circumstances, Kent has doubled its monthly running rate.

      For BAT every person is a potential smoker and every country is potentially exploitable. Fragile states are particularly so because the normal rules do not apply, taxes can be avoided, and cigarettes can still be sold profitably. In other words as long as money can be made, anything goes, said Anna Gilmore, Professor of Public Health at the University of Bath and UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies. Plus at some point many of the fragile markets will formalise. BATs aim is generally to get in there early, get smokers addicted to its products before its competitors and, where relevant, get the best deals on local manufacturing options.

      As long as money can be made, anything goes

      Paul Hopkins in Somalia. Photograph: Paul Hopkins

      Matthew L Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said: The allegations against British American Tobacco reflect a company willing to … exploit any vulnerable population in order to make money no matter the consequences.

      As cigarette sales decline around the world, British American Tobacco sees fragile states as one of the few remaining growth markets for its deadly products. For a company that doesnt care how it makes its money or what laws need to be broken to ensure future profits, countries experiencing instability present a unique opportunity.

      The Guardian asked BAT if it had promoted sales of its cigarettes in a number of fragile, war-torn and unstable countries including through under-cover operations, while civil war were ongoing, and if this had allowed them to ignore health warnings and nicotine content.

      In a statement, a British American Tobacco spokesperson said:We take our commitment to the responsible marketing of our products very seriously. We have strict, company-wide marketing principles in place to ensure that our products are marketed responsibly, in addition to adhering to all relevant laws and regulations in the 200 markets where we operate.

      Specifically, we comply fully with the regulations for tobacco products in the DRC which have been in place in this country since 2007 that prescribes health warnings and health warning sizes, and sets limits for tar and nicotine content. Additionally, in other African countries, including South Sudan, Somalia and Somaliland, where there is no tobacco regulation in place, we voluntarily apply a side panel health warning on all of our products sold in those markets.

      We fully comply with the relevant tax law in every country in which we operate. Specifically, in DRC, excise on tobacco products is prepaid to the government at the time of ordering excise/tax stamps. This is a process that BAT adheres to strictly for all products it sells in this country.

      In each market where we are present, we offer consumers a choice of products, which can include local brands, international brands and our global drive brands. Our strict international marketing principles apply, and are adhered to, in each of the 200 markets around the world where we operate.

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      Influential Instagrammers: Local creatives discuss the Baton Rouge blogging scene – LSU Now (blog)

      LSU Now (blog)

      Influential Instagrammers: Local creatives discuss the Baton Rouge blogging scene
      LSU Now (blog)
      When she arrived in Baton Rouge, the city's creative scene was lacking and she had no interest in blogging. “When I first came here, it was simply for college and I didn't think much of Baton Rouge in terms of a creative center— where someone could

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      Behind the Scenes of the Internet’s First Football Game

      At 5:05 am Sunday, long before the rest of Sunnyvale, California will wake up, Yahoo’s control room is packed. Seventeen people, many of them standing, face a wall of screens. On the two largest, the hosts of Fantasy Football Live, Yahoo’s decade-old web show about fantasy football, are discussing their best bets for the week to come.

      Producer Evan Doherty has a chair but is too restless to use it. Tall and spiky-haired, he talks constantly into his black headset mic, ordering shots and telling the hosts to wrap it up and move on to the next segment. He tugs at his shirt, a black polo embroidered with a Yahoo Sports logo. He rubs his hands together, purses his lips, and jiggles his legs like a restless kid waiting for school to end.

      The day is coming when people will stop subscribing to cable altogether. Yahoo has to be there.

      Doherty has produced and hosted shows more complicated than this, but the stakes are higher today. According to the big red numbers counting down on the clock, the team has 85 minutes until Yahoo’s coverage turns to the Buffalo Bills-Jacksonville Jaguars game being broadcast live from Wembley Stadium in London. It’s Yahoo’s first NFL game, and the first time an NFL game has appeared exclusively online for free to anyone with an Internet connection. It’s a glimpse into the future of sports, and television.

      It’s also a chance for Yahoo to show everyone what it can do with technology and content.Less than a week earlier, the company took a $42 million writedown on its original content, all but admitting defeat. “We couldn’t see a way to make money over time,” Yahoo CFO Ken Goldman told investors. So itpivoted: rather than chase Hulu and Netflix and the like, Yahoo is trying to go where millions of people already congregate: sports.

      Yahoo’s spent weekspromoting, testing, and rehearsing for this game. It’s streamed other NFL games to no one, worked with network partners around the world, and tested every gadget it can think of. they can think of. It all works.

      All that’s left to do ispraythe game doesn’t suck.

      The Future of Football Is Apps

      The NFL and Yahoo announced the the partnership in June, and even then referred to it as “an experiment.” The NFL could afford to take chances: Everyone expected the game to be a snoozer between two lame teams, and broadcast so early that it wouldn’t bother anyone. But it was a chance for Yahoo to prove it can do live video, an opportunity to establish itself as the go-to place for the transition from cable TV to Internet TV.

      “I think about it from the perspective of a hundred-and-fifty-plus billion dollar industry that is set to be disrupted,” says Adam Cahan, Yahoo’s senior vice president of mobile and emerging products. The day is coming, he says, when people will stop subscribing to cable. Yahoo has to be there.

      Sports are a uniquely powerful agent for that change. “This is unique programming,” Cahan says. “It’s the kind of things that people will shift their behaviors with.” He says Netflix and its ilk offer a service that is increasingly commoditized. Live sports, on the other hand, move the industry. It made HDTV important, brought satellite TV to the fore, and will play a huge role in determining what happens next. Yahoo’s thinking is that people will go where the games are, and then all it has to do is keep them around when it ends. (Call it The ESPN Plan.)

      Neither side would discuss what Yahoo paid for the rights to broadcast the game, though $20 million was widely reported. Yahoo doesn’t seem to care about recoupingthat money—and almost certainly didn’t. This is a chance to show the NFL—and advertisers—what it can offer over time. Yahoo says it worked with 30 domestic and international partners and locked up some big-name sponsors. It’s appealing to advertisers, because the enterprise offers the data of online ads and the reach of television. “We’re going to be able to give information about users,” Cahan says, “that also says what screens did they access it from, what geographies were they in, what type of network were they accessing on.”

      We have a significant portion of the world’s Internet bandwidth reserved for this game.Yahoo VP Ron Jacoby

      The Yahoo Video team has featured concerts by Taylor Swift, streamed the Emmys, and was at the Electric Daisy Carnival. It has apps for every platform you can think of, and supports most dongles, boxes, and sticks. The technical infrastructure is robust. But an NFL game is another thing entirely.

      The football audience is much bigger, for one thing, and has little tolerance for low resolution or lag. “There will be a lot of motion, a lot of action, the ball moving on the screen,” says P.P.S. Narayan (everyone calls him PPSN), Yahoo Video’s VP of engineering. “We want to provide the best experience for our users, so we decided we needed to provide the highest-quality HD video.” The team decided early on to try streaming 720p video, at 60 frames per second, with 6Mbps bitrate1. “We have a significant portion of the world’s Internet bandwidth reserved for this game,” says Ron Jacoby, Yahoo’s vice president and chief architect for connected TV. In all, Yahoo streamed 8.5 petabytes to users.

      Few people’s connections can support such ridiculous throughput, so Yahoo made its stream more adaptive. The software knows the quality of your network and the size of your screen, and tries to deliver the best picture possible. As long as it’s not buffering, that is. “Nobody should see the spinner,”Narayan says. After all, TV doesn’t buffer.

      Game On

      Others handled most of the game production—it was a CBS broadcasting crew, and an NFL Network halftime show. Yahoo’s job was mostly to make sure things stayed live. Representatives from nearly every team at the company sat in a room, their noses in laptops, constantly providing status updates. In the control room, everyone watcheda panel of twelve screens showing the status of the fiber feed and satellite backups.

      The real show is down the hall, in another Yahoo studios. Two card tables are set up in a V, facing a giant unbranded television. Six men sit at six mics, trying something new: an alternative, fan- and fantasy-driven audio stream for the game.

      The set of the fantasy broadcast, Yahoo’s alternative audio for Sunday’s game. Yahoo

      Shaun King, a former NFL quarterback and the day’s designated Jaguars fan, is on a roll. It’s the middle of the second quarter, the Bills just turned the ball over again, and the Jags are about to go up 27-3. King, having shed his pre-game show outfit of shirt, tie, suit jacket, and camo cargo shorts in favor of a polo shirt and camo cargo shorts, leans back in his flimsy chair, giggling. “This is awesome” he shouts at Kirk Morrison, aformer linebacker and the day’s Bills fan. He’s spent the last 15 minutes telling everyone how horrible Bills quarterback EJ Manuel is. Morrison shakes his head. When the game breaks for a commercial, King sips his tea, pumps his fists, and shouts “Yes! Yes! We killing them!” Morrison sighs, again.

      Yahoo didn’t want to try too many new things and risk pissing off fans or the NFL. Most people saw and heard the normal broadcast, hosted by CBS stalwarts Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon. But the “fantasy broadcast” is the start of something big, says Yahoo Sports executive producer Ryan Dornbusch. He argues that the buttoned-up, straightforward CBS show “is not authentic to what a viewer is saying on their couch as they’re slapping their heads, frustrated.” Listening to the fantasy broadcast was like watching the game alongside two whip-smart former pros who are having a blast. It was great fun.

      The fantasy broadcast is the start of something big for Yahoo’s coverage.

      Dornbusch notes that this is how most people experience the game—as fans, with biases and feelings and money on the line—and thinks Yahoo can cover it that way, too. He points to examples like Bill Simmons, formerly of ESPN and now at HBO, who created a huge following in large part because of his aggressive homerism and love of Boston teams. “I’m resolute to allow our talent to be more subjective and invested in the things they’re passionate about,” he says. “That makes for better entertainment. It makes them care more, which makes the audience care more.”

      That means letting talent talk about their favorite teams, their favorite players, and especially their fantasy teams. If Yahoo is the future home of football, fantasy will be a big part of it. During the pregame show—which, don’t forget, is called Fantasy Football Live—every player card they showed included the player’s positional fantasy rank. Just before the game started, everyone in the green room was on their phones setting their lineup. During the broadcast, Yahoo fantasy expert Brad Evans dropped in a few times to talk about how different players were doing in Yahoo leagues. When the guys discussed aplayer’s performance, they didn’t discuss his yardage or touchdowns. They talked about fantasy points. They also discussed his dollar value in daily fantasy, an increasingly key part of the Yahoo Sports puzzle.

      Part of what Yahoo hopes to do with fantasy in general is bring more people into watching sports. Fantasy is to football what your bracket pool is to March Madness: an easy wayto get excited about a few teams before you get hooked on the game. It’s just one part of the challenge facing Yahoo, too. A big part of its pitch to the NFL was its ability to turn a billion monthly Yahoo users into viewers. There was an in-game video with Katie Couric, anotherwith tech columnist David Pogue, and lots of entertainment-meets-sports coverage around the game. Still, Dornbusch cautions that such additions arepart of a bigger show. “There was so much publicity and so much attention just to an NFL game being live-streamed and free on the web, that we wanted that to be the focus.”

      About that. On Monday, Yahoo proudly declared there had been 33.6 million streams of the game by 15.2 million unique viewers in185 countries. Big numbers indeed. But when you consider that, for instance, the game autoplayed for anyone who went to during, the streaming figures seem dubious. The more telling number may be the 2.3 million viewers for an average minute of the game. (There were likely peaks and valleys, but that number compares more closely to how Nielsen measures TV.) That’s a fraction of thenumber that watch even a crappy game on TV.

      Yahoo says the stream went well, but from the numbers and tweets, it’s hard to tell.

      Reviews ofthe stream itself were all over the map. You didn’t have to look far to find the furious, the amazed, and everything in between. At one point, many were complaining about an intermittent beeping on the broadcast—it turned out to be a part of the NFL’s feed, and was resolved quickly. Personally, my viewing experience was solid, though there were one or two jumpy spots. Yahoo says its rebuffering ratio was near one percent, meaning 99 percent of the broadcast streamed perfectly to everyone.

      The NFL, for its part, is happy. No one at the league got back to us, but Commissioner Roger Goodell told he was pretty stoked. “It took a game that was going to have a limited amount of distribution on television—it probably would have gone to 10 percent or less of the country on Sunday had we not chosen this distribution,” he said. “We reached new fans through this platform. We can really formulate our media strategy and how we can continue to reach the broadest number of fans.”

      Yahoo is stoked too. As the post-game show ended—long after an epic Bills comeback gave Morrison plenty of shots back at King on the fantasy broadcast but ultimately ended in 34-31 win for King’s Jaguars—the Yahoo team celebrated. People popped champagne, drank up, then went home, presumably to bed. The feeling within Yahoo is that they’ve proven themselves a worthy partner to the NFL, and they hope to do more live sports soon.

      There’s more to do. The Yahoo crew is thinking about DVR-type experiences, more ways to watch and share the game, and an easier way to find the alternative broadcasts. Dornbusch has lots of ideas about how to integrate more content, more fantasy, more fan perspective.Narayan—the guy everyone callsPPSN—knows the network and streaming performance can be even better. But if this was a trial, it was a successful one.

      Now comes the part where Yahoo arguesover billions of dollars with ESPN, Fox, and who knows who else. We’ve all seen what sports on the Internet looks like. It looks pretty good. Everyone’s going to want in.

      UPDATE 10/28 12:39PM: We originally wrote that Yahoo streamed 1080p footage—it was actually 720p. (1080p would’ve been nice, though, come on guys.)

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