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If Netflix is stumbling will Wall Street renew or cancel? | Netflix

Twelve years ago Jeff Bewkes, then chief executive of Time Warner, compared Netflix to the Albanian army. “It’s a little bit like, is the Albanian army going to take over the world? I don’t think so,” Bewkes told the New York Times, disparaging the streaming service’s ability to take on the established media players.

Well, the Albanian army won. Time Warner followed Netflix into streaming, NBCUniversal and Disney came after and so it carried on. In Britain, BBC and ITV invested in their streaming portals. Media was now living in Netflix’s world.

In the years that followed, hit after hit – from Stranger Things to Bridgerton – cemented Netflix’s position as the world’s leading streaming service. Subscribers boomed as the coronavirus made much of the world shut-ins. And then in January the boom appeared to be over. ​​

Globally Netflix announced it expected to add only 2.5 million new subscribers in the first three months of the year, well down on the 4 million in the first quarter of 2021. The news has helped wipe almost $45bn (£33bn) from its value as investors worried Netflix’s glory days were over.

On Tuesday Netflix releases its latest quarterly results. And some analysts worry that increased competition from Apple, Amazon, Disney and traditional media players means the Albanian army is finally on the run.

The narrative was further reinforced last month when Coda beat Jane Campion’s Power of the Dog for the year’s best picture Oscar. The heartwarming story of a child of deaf adults was produced by Apple, Campion’s critically lauded neo-western was produced by Netflix. It was the first time that a movie released by a streaming service had won the top Oscar.

Having redefined the media landscape Netflix was in trouble and now – for some – it is time for Netflix to change its game.

For Laura Martin, an analyst at Needham & Co, what was once Netflix’s key strength has become its biggest weakness.

In the previous quarter, Netflix released the biggest TV show of the year, Squid Game, and its two biggest film releases ever, Red Notice and Don’t Look Up. The company spent an eye-watering $17bn (£13bn) on content in 2021 and is expected to spend about $19bn in 2022.

But that hasn’t been enough to maintain the kind of growth Wall Street has become accustomed to. “Originals and entertainment content is no longer enough,” said Martin. “Our thesis is that you must have news and sport. You must have breaking news because that brings in people when, say, Russia invades Ukraine or sports because when there is a really good game then people flock to you and stay there.”

Entertainment alone, she argues, is just too narrow and the company’s success may have blinded them to the need to offer a wider variety of content.

When Netflix started, its main rivals in the US, its largest market, were cable companies that offered sports and news as well as entertainment but at a far higher price. “At the beginning when it was $15 a month and they had great library content from all the big studios, that was a really good deal,” she said. “Now that all the big boys are in the business, they all have much bigger libraries than Netflix and they have news and sports. The competitive landscape has changed for Netflix and they aren’t changing.”

But while Netflix may not be growing as fast as it once was, it is far too early to write it off. Even another disappointing quarter – and another share price fall – is unlikely to dent the streaming company’s enormous power in a media world that is still playing catchup.

Globally Netflix had 222 million subscribers at the end of last year. People spent 1.65bn hours viewing Squid Game in its first four weeks. And it’s still one of the ​​best-performing stocks of the past two decades, gaining more than 34,000% since the company’s 2002 initial public offering. It made a profit of $5.1bn in 2021 and its content budget dwarfs most of its traditional media rivals.

There has been a “reset” said Brian Wieser, global president of business intelligence at media agency GroupM. In part that reset is an “acknowledgment that the economics of the streaming business are not as good as the traditional media business”.

But that traditional media business is still in trouble and, if you take a stand back and look at what Netflix and its peers are doing to the media landscape, he argues, it is clear that streaming is here to stay and it’s the traditional media companies who remain most at risk.

“We are transitioning to a much more globalised economy and this is a much more globalised media industry than it has ever been,” said Wieser. Hits such as South Korea’s Squid Game and All of Us Are Dead show that Netflix remains the leader in that global market. “They are just so much bigger in this space that growth is naturally going to be more limited,” he said. “That doesn’t mean the business is weak, or the long-term profit profile isn’t solid.”

“Sometimes we lose a sense of perspective on these things,” said Wieser. “When you still have one of the most valuable media companies on earth and you are still arguably one of, if not the, most impactful media companies because of how much you spend on content, were the last results really disappointing or was it about expectations being mismatched?”

In the meantime the streaming world continues to chew up the business of traditional ad-supported television and cable and that, combined with the global vision Netflix has brought to media, gives it and its rivals plenty of room for growth.

Competitors may have crowed at Netflix’s new year crisis but the fall has dented neither the scale of its ambitions nor the depths of its pockets.

The UK’s ITV recently announced a new streaming platform, ITVX, it hopes will be a “national champion” in the battle for British viewers​​ against the streaming giants. The media company’s overall content budget is expected to be £1.23bn this year . Netflix alone will spend 11 times that.

In the US consumers spent about $140bn on professional video content last year from cable content and theatrical admissions to streaming services and purchases of physical media. Streaming services account for about $30bn of that money; cable still takes $100bn but is still losing subscribers. From 2016 to 2021, pay TV lost more than 50 million adult viewers in the US and fewer than half of all US households will have a cable TV subscription by 2023, according to study by Insider Intelligence.

Arguably even its recent loses show that Netflix is winning. The fact that this year’s best picture battle was a battle between Apple and Netflix shows just how firmly the streamers are embedded. The days when Netflix was the Albanian army may be over but the truth is media companies are all Albanians now.

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European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.

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China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending ‘Taikonauts’ To The Moon From 2030 Onwards

China Reveals Lunar Mission

The Voice Of EU | In a bold stride towards lunar exploration, the Chinese Space Agency has unveiled its ambitious plans for a moon landing set to unfold in the 2030s. While exact timelines remain uncertain, this endeavor signals a potential resurgence of the historic space race reminiscent of the 1960s rivalry between the United States and the USSR.

China’s recent strides in lunar exploration include the deployment of three devices on the moon’s surface, coupled with the successful launch of the Queqiao-2 satellite. This satellite serves as a crucial communication link, bolstering connectivity between Earth and forthcoming missions to the moon’s far side and south pole.

Unlike the secretive approach of the Soviet Union in the past, China’s strategy leans towards transparency, albeit with a hint of mystery surrounding the finer details. Recent revelations showcase the naming and models of lunar spacecraft, steeped in cultural significance. The Mengzhou, translating to “dream ship,” will ferry three astronauts to and from the moon, while the Lanyue, meaning “embrace the moon,” will descend to the lunar surface.

Drawing inspiration from both Russian and American precedents, China’s lunar endeavor presents a novel approach. Unlike its predecessors, China will employ separate launches for the manned module and lunar lander due to the absence of colossal space shuttles. This modular approach bears semblance to SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, reflecting a contemporary adaptation of past achievements.

Upon reaching lunar orbit, astronauts, known as “taikonauts” in Chinese, will rendezvous with the lunar lander, reminiscent of the Apollo program’s maneuvers. However, distinct engineering choices mark China’s departure from traditional lunar landing methods.

The Chinese lunar lander, while reminiscent of the Apollo Lunar Module, introduces novel features such as a single set of engines and potential reusability and advance technology. Unlike past missions where lunar modules were discarded, China’s design hints at the possibility of refueling and reuse, opening avenues for sustained lunar exploration.

China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending 'Taikonauts' To The Moon From 2030 Onwards
A re-creation of the two Chinese spacecraft that will put ‘taikonauts’ on the moon.CSM

Despite these advancements, experts have flagged potential weaknesses, particularly regarding engine protection during landing. Nevertheless, China’s lunar aspirations remain steadfast, with plans for extensive testing and site selection underway.

Beyond planting flags and collecting rocks, China envisions establishing a permanent lunar base, the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), ushering in a new era of international collaboration in space exploration.

While the Artemis agreements spearheaded by NASA have garnered global support, China’s lunar ambitions stand as a formidable contender in shaping the future of space exploration. In conclusion, China’s unveiling of its lunar ambitions not only marks a significant milestone in space exploration but also sets the stage for a new chapter in the ongoing saga of humanity’s quest for the cosmos. As nations vie for supremacy in space, collaboration and innovation emerge as the cornerstones of future lunar endeavors.

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Aviation and Telecom Industries Reach Compromise on 5G Deployment

The Voice Of EU | In a significant development, AT&T and Verizon, the two largest mobile network operators in the United States, have agreed to delay the deployment of 5G services following requests from the aviation industry and the Biden administration. This decision marks a crucial compromise in the long-standing dispute between the two industries, which had raised concerns over the potential interference of 5G with flight signals.
The aviation industry, led by United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby, had been vocal about the risks of 5G deployment, citing concerns over the safety of flight operations. Kirby had urged AT&T and Verizon to delay their plans, warning that proceeding with the deployment would be a “catastrophic failure of government.” The US Senate Commerce Committee hearing on the issue further highlighted the need for a solution.
In response, US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) head Steve Dickson sent a letter to the mobile networks, requesting a two-week delay to reassess the potential risks. Initially, AT&T and Verizon were hesitant, citing the aviation industry’s two-year preparation window. However, they eventually agreed to the short delay, pushing the deployment to January 19.
The crux of the issue lies in the potential interference between 5G signals and flight equipment, particularly radar altimeters. The C-Band spectrum used by 5G networks is close to the frequencies employed by these critical safety devices. The FAA requires accurate and reliable radar altimeters to ensure safe flight operations.

Airlines in the US have been at loggerheads with mobile networks over the deployment of 5G and its potential impact on flight safety.

Despite the concerns, both the FAA and the telecoms industry agree that 5G mobile networks and airline travel can coexist safely. In fact, they already do in nearly 40 countries where US airlines operate regularly. The key lies in reducing power levels around airports and fostering cross-industry collaboration prior to deployment.
The FAA has been working to find a solution in the United States, and the additional two-week delay will allow for further assessment and preparation. AT&T and Verizon have also agreed to not operate 5G base stations along runways for six months, similar to restrictions imposed in France.
President Joe Biden hailed the decision to delay as “a significant step in the right direction.” The European Union Aviation Safety Agency and South Korea have also reported no unsafe interference with radio waves since the deployment of 5G in their regions.
As the aviation and telecom industries continue to work together, it is clear that safe coexistence is possible. The delay in 5G deployment is a crucial step towards finding a solution that prioritizes both safety and innovation. With ongoing collaboration and technical assessments, the United States can join the growing list of countries where 5G and airlines coexist without issue.

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