CNN+ is worth 0.143 of a Quibi
Read to the end for an ode to the best place on Earth, Margaritaville
Garbage Day is in the running for two Webby Awards! It would be very cool to win one, though, if I don’t, you better believe I’ll be calling this a “Webby-nominated newsletter” until the end of time. But if you feel like voting for me for those, to turn this into a Webby-winning newsletter, you can do that here and here.
Garbage Day Equals Two CNN+’s
Things are not looking good for CNN+, the new network’s streaming platform. CNBC’s Alex Sherman dropped a devastating scoop yesterday, reporting that the app has less than 10,000 people using it across a two-week period. And, per Axios, investment in the streamer is already being rethought. As Today In Tabs’ Rusty Foster points out, that’s lower than a lot of Substacks, including both his and mine. Though, comparing something like CNN+ to an individual Substack is, obviously, a little unfair. Garbage Day is something I write in my underwear, while CNN+ talent, I assume, have to wear pants.
The problems swirling around CNN+ this early in its life are not specific to CNN, but it has created a great case study for the completely out of control world of streaming platforms. Which are such a mess that my friend Julia Alexander’s entire job is trying to make sense of the largely self-reported viewership metrics coming out of that space. She’s a must-follow if you care about this stuff. First, let’s talk about the corporate ecosystem that CNN+ was birthed from.
CNN is currently owned by WarnerMedia, which, on Friday became Warner Bros. Discovery, after it merged with Discovery. That means, right now, Discovery channels like HGTV and TLC are part of the same company as HBO and CNN and, also, the entire Warner Bros. movie studio. Making matters more confusing, HBO has the HBO Max streaming platform and Discovery has Discovery+, which will be combining at some point in the future. But CNN+, which launched on March 29th, does not appear to be part of that platform merge. CNN will be run as a completely separate entity, overseen by Chris Licht, a former vice president of programming at CBS News, who act as the chairman and CEO.
CNN+ will exist as its own thing. And it seems like that autonomy is why you currently need the pre-existing CNN app to download CNN+. Insider was monitoring data around CNN app downloads during CNN+’s first day and found less than 20,000 new downloads came in. Which is not great. And The Verge smartly compared CNN+’s confusing rollout and shockingly low early user numbers to Quibi’s epic 2020 flameout. By the time the app ended, there were about 70,000 paying Quibi users (Quibers?)
We’re still early on CNN+’s life cycle. I don’t expect it to crash and burn immediately, but it seems like it won’t last long in its current form. And I think it speaks to the consolidation needed for a streaming app to work. My friend Julia earlier this week tried to get a sense of how big Discovery+ and HBO Max would be when they inevitably combine and estimated it would emerge as a platform about as big as Netflix.
“There’s good chance a new HBO Max/Discovery+ offering is cable lite —that may work, or it’ll feel bloated like the worst of cable,” Julia wrote. Which makes the CNN+ app even more confusing. In fact, last December, ahead of CNN+’s launch, all of the CNN content that was available on HBO Max was actually yanked off the platform. Gizmodo hilariously noted at the time, “It’s not immediately clear who exactly is clamoring for a subscription-based, CNN-branded streaming platform, but that doesn’t look like it’s stopping the network from heading into the new year guns blazing, ready to bet big on the popularity of a new Chris Wallace vehicle.” Spoiler alert: It was not a good bet.
It’s really hard not to see CNN+ as anything other than a tremendous display of hubris. CNN, regardless of its corporate owner, seems convinced that news programming can be a main attraction for consumers, but there’s a reason why it started as a channel included in a larger cable packages. Streaming platforms need to be infinitely deep and constantly expanding intellectual property machines. They are the AOL homepages of our time, but require an even greater amount of content because they are essentially competing with not only the entire internet and all of TV for attention, but also other massive streaming platforms.
I really can’t imagine a person who would pay $5.99 or almost $60 a year to watch a live CNN feed, accompanied by what is essentially extra CNN content. Older viewers are probably still wrapped up in wildly expensive and confusing cable/internet packages (I recently had to untangle an older relative of mine from one) and younger viewers are getting the exact kind of thing that CNN+ is offering via individual creators or smaller media projects, like podcasts or streamers. Which CNN+ actually seems to be aware of. The fledging platform is currently advertising something it calls the “Interview Club,” which will let subscribers do live Q&As with the channel’s experts. Boring! Put Jake Tapper on Twitch!
There’s a Garbage Day meetup next week! It’s at Logan’s Run in Brooklyn on April 21 (the day after 420). There will be drinks, earnest irl conversations about internet content, maybe pizza, and some new Garbage Day merch! It’s free, but if you want to RSVP, there’s an Eventbrite for that here.
Making The Metaverse Is Hilariously Expensive
I’ve written before about how there are two factions fighting create the metaverse, a VR and AR-powered immersive version of the internet. On one side are the platforms — Mark Zuckerg’s Meta, Epic Games, Roblox, Minecraft — and on the other are the crypto-obsessed Web3 evangelists. The platforms want to Netflix-ify social platforms, converting them into heavily-surveilled hyper-addictive brand-safe nipple-free shopping malls. The Web3 people want to turn the internet into a decentralized network of casinos run by pseudonyms techno-barons, where every online interaction requires micropayments. Neither option sounds very good!
But Business Insider reported today that Meta will be charging fees as high as 47.5% for creators who want to use their Horizon marketplace. Web3 folks have pounced on this, rightly pointing out that this is completely ridiculous. “This is the current state of the web, and without Web3 and its disruptive business models, there are no better alternatives, visions for the future, or outcomes for people, communities, and creators,” @ianDAOs tweeted.
I have a lot of issues with Web3, the biggest being that, so far, Web3 products suck and are expensive, but I do think that that community has actually done a fairly good job of sketching out a lot of major issues with web 2.0 and have at least attempted to create alternative models. What’s nice, though, is if Meta insists on taking 50% of its developer community’s money, the platforms may end up making themselves irrelevant regardless of what’s going on in the crypto world.
Speaking of the crypto world…
There’s Some Interesting Activity Happening Around Coinbase Tokens Right Now!
Here’s a fun little mystery for you. @cobie, a popular crypto Twitter personality, discovered an Ethereum address that spent hundreds of thousands of dollars buying a whole bunch of tokens that were listed in a recent Coinbase blog post. The post was highlighting new tokens the app was considering adding to their trading offerings. Typically, when a token or a coin is added to Coinbase, it sees a massive initial wave of interest and then peters out. Think of it like the crypto equivalent of being added to the NASDAQ. And even being listed as up for consideration for Coinbase can add a lot of value to more obscure tokens and coins.
Well, this Ethereum address that @cobie discovered seems to have just so happened to buy these tokens about a day before Coinbase listed them as being up for consideration. Isn’t that a crazy coincidence?! I wonder how they could have possibly been so lucky!
Today’s A Big Day For Tumblr
Today is the anniversary of the beginning of the comic Homestuck, which I refuse to try and properly summarize here. It's basically a big web comic that invented like half of internet culture. Today is also the anniversary of this picture of a rat name Neil.
The picture, as you can see, is captioned, “Neil banging out the tunes April 13, 2006.” So, if, in your various travels across the web today, you see references to Homestuck or a particularly musical rat, that’s why. When I started writing this item, I sort of assumed I’d be able to find some larger point to connect it to, but there really isn’t one. And, sometimes, that’s nice.
I Finally Watched The Bloodywood Music Video And It Rips
This video has been stuck in my YouTube recommendations for months. I watch a lot of videos of metalheads reacting to stuff 🤷🏼♂️. Well, I’m sorry I put off watching it for so long because it’s great. It’s a band called Bloodywood. They’re from New Dehli and they blend Indian folk music with pretty brutal metal. Also, the lyrics are aggressively feminist, which is pretty cool too!
This Is What A True Alpha Gamer Looks Like
A streamer named Crossmauz turned their bedroom in a literal rave — including pyrotechnics — which then synced up with his kills while playing Modern Warfare 2. According to Dexerto, Crossmauz is a 15-year-old from Germany. The clips from the stream are amazingly funny.
Crossmauz went viral after he killed another streamer named @kittyzandpichu and then immediately started raving lol. You can check out Crossmauz’s Twitch channel here. There are a ton of rave clips and they’re all fantastic.
Some Stray Links
P.S. here’s an ode to the best place on Earth, Margaritaville.
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***