Five Things: September 16, 2021

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Topps Mulls Options Amid Claims MLB Fanatics Deal Done in Secret | Michael McCann

“Our business is highly dependent upon our license agreements with third parties, and a limited number of our licensors account for a large portion of our net sales. If we lose a license, we may not be able to ensure our consumers have continued access to the assets created under that license. In addition, such licenses may be difficult and expensive to obtain and, in some cases, retain.”

This story got a little buzz a few weeks ago, mostly from people like me who grew up with baseball cards as one of the most popular collectibles, but the details are pretty ugly and noteworthy for anyone in the media business that deals with rights and licensing. MLB kneecapping a long-time partner is bad enough for several cautionary tales and case studies, and Topps was definitely planning their future on a foundation of sand, but the details about how SPACs work is particularly interesting, and disheartening.


Facebook’s pivot to video not only burned publishers — it didn’t even work for Facebook | Laura Hazard Owen

“It all feels very five years ago. As we’ve documented, starting around 2016, Facebook executives including Mark Zuckerberg began pushing the notion that news video on Facebook was publishers’ bright future, a ‘new golden age.'”

“Pivot to video” will go down as one of several excellent examples of the tail wagging the dog in media—both in business, as well as media coverage itself—and more importantly, how recycling failed executives rarely delivers good results.

Nevertheless, VICE persists.


One Year Of Defector | Tom Ley

“I want you to subscribe, or continue subscribing, to Defector not just because you believe in our cause or think supporting us is a good thing to do, but because you enjoy the work we produce and want to see us continue producing it. The stakes don’t need to be any higher, or more complicated, than that.”

I frequently criticize the industry that feeds me because I care, so here’s a positive story of how media can be done the right way… IF business incentives are aligned to a clear mission other than maximizing margins for fickle, greedy investors.

While I’m neither a subscriber nor regular reader (and only ever read Deadspin when a big story would hit my timeline via friends), I utterly despise how G/O Media operates and am a huge fan of what Defector is doing from a business perspective, so I’ve definitely considered supporting them purely out of solidarity. This update on their first year is a great read, and does a better job of making a compelling renewal pitch than your average direct marketer could ever dream of.

I haven’t subscribed yet, but I did give them my email address and am following them on Twitter now, so conversion might not be far off. Play smart games, win smart prizes!


How Bow & Arrow Became the Southwest’s Most Innovative Brewery | Lois Ellen Frank

“At a bold and stylish new brewery in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Missy Begay and Shyla Sheppard are using traditional Native American ingredients to produce delicious craft creations, part of a growing movement that’s changing the face of domestic beer.”

I’m a recovering beer snob who still loves to sample new-to-me beers, and while I still appreciate a good IPA now and then, beer shelves have started to feel more like marketing design experiments than a diverse representation of actual craft brewing. I haven’t had Bow & Arrow’s beers yet, but they have one of the most compelling backstories I’ve seen in years, and I’m now pushing a post-pandemic return visit to Albuquerque up my wish list.


How to Pair Whisky and Nuts | Stephen Beaumont

“Of course, every snack is improved by the addition of an appropriate beverage, and the more complex and intense flavors found in tree nuts can pair remarkably well with a variety of whiskies.”

Post-stroke, I’ve had to pay much closer attention to my diet—managing cholesterol and sodium, in particular—so I spent a lot of time on Google those first few weeks figuring out what was okay, what needed to be moderated, and what should be eliminated.

Thankfully, whiskey in moderation is okay and can even lower your blood pressure a bit, so I wanted to find a good snack to pair with it and create a satisfying dessert option for myself. I only like pecans in candy, pies, and ice cream, and won’t touch almonds anymore, but I’m curious how cashews might pair with Uncle Nearest. While not one of the recommendations here, it turns out, raw, unsalted pistachios, always a fave, actually go very well with Bulleit Rye, though.


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