In the war between subscription video on-demand (SVOD) services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, Starz has been growing on the sidelines and fighting to be the preferred add-on for consumers on top of their primary subscription. That journey has required the longtime premium cable TV network to rethink its target audience, content strategy and pricing.
It now has more than two million subscribers on its direct-to-consumer video platform and roughly seven million subscribers when including all the users of other SVOD services in the U.S. who pay for Starz as an add-on. I recently spoke to Jeffrey Hirsch, the company’s CEO since last September (and COO before that), about how he defines Starz’ overall strategy now and the process through which his team determined new pricing, new content strategy and international expansion.
Below is our conversation, edited for length and clarity:
TechCrunch: Who do you think of as Starz’ core audience?
Jeffrey Hirsch: What we found from the data was women were driving our transition from the old world to the new world. We did a bunch of research and realized that women are twice as likely to buy apps under $10, their lifetime value is higher, they are more loyal and they become a guerilla marketing engine for the company.
We refined our programming strategy domestically to focus premium content on the female audience. There’s three kinds of demos underneath that: There is a general female point of view, there is an African American female point of view and there is a Latina point of view. If you look at our programming, we got there based on the strength of our show “Power,” which is our biggest show and is 65% African American female, and then “Outlander,” which is over 80% female.
Pinterest to test live-streamed events this month with 21 creators
Pinterest is expanding into live events. The company is planning to host a three-day virtual event that will feature live-streamed sessions from top creators, including big names like Jonathan Van Ness and Rebecca Minkoff, among others. The virtual event will run inside the Pinterest app from May 24th through May 25th, and will serve as the company’s first public test of directly streaming creator content to its over 475 million global users.
The rise of the creator economy and a pandemic-fueled demand for virtual events led Pinterest to explore the idea of live streaming. Last fall, it began testing a “class communities” feature that allowed users to sign up for Zoom classes through Pinterest, while creators used Pinterest’s boards to organize materials, notes, and other resources. These communities also included a group chat option and shopping features.
The new live-streamed sessions will operate a bit differently.
For starters, they’re not directing users off-site to Zoom for the sessions. Instead, users will launch the live-streaming experience directly inside Pinterest mobile app and remain there during the sessions. Pinterest users can also comment to interact with the creator during their stream, but there is no longer any shopping functionality, Pinterest tells TechCrunch.
The live streams allow up to five “guests” and an unlimited number of viewers. Meanwhile, moderators — which may include Pinterest employees, during this test — will help to control the experience. They will also have the ability to remove people from the chat if they do not uphold Pinterest’s Community Standards.
The forthcoming event’s lineup will focus a variety of topics, including food, design, cooking, style, and more.
Jonathan Van Ness‘ session will discuss morning rituals and self-care routines. Fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff will teach Pinterest users how to style their summer wardrobe. Others featured during the event include food creators GrossyPelosi and Peter Som, who will showcase favorite recipes; Women’s Health magazine will talk about using vision boards to achieve your goals; Jennifer Alba will show how to communicate the Zodiac through sign language; and Hannah Bronfman will offer ideas for creating an at-home spa night.
In total, Pinterest will feature around 21 creators throughout the three-day event, with around 7 different session per day. Users will be directed to the live event via a new “Live” tab inside the Pinterest app for iOS and Android, where they can view the schedule and join sessions.
x”As a visual platform, people discover billions of ideas on Pinterest every day, and we’re always looking for new ways to help them bring those ideas to life,” says David Temple, Pinterest’s Head of Creators.
Temple notes Pinterest has integrated with third-party live-streaming technologies and built its own in-house messaging systems to power live interactions.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to respond to Pinner feedback for more dynamic and timely events as new interests like cooking have emerged for many in quarantine, and trends like beauty, fashion, and home renovation are on all-time highs as we move into a post-pandemic world,” Temple adds.
However, Pinterest isn’t discussing how it views the potential for live events longer-term. For the time being, it’s not offering tools that could woo creators away from other platforms where they can monetize their fans through features like donations, tips, virtual gifts, paid ticketing, subscriptions, or brand partnerships via a creator marketplace. Without such options, Pinterest could have a hard time competing for creators’ attention.
Nearly every big tech platform today is making a play for creators, and some are even willing to throw cash at them to win them over. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and Twitter are all building out features that let creators do more than build an audience to monetize through ads or brand deals. Now, fans can send creators money during or after streams, subscribe for exclusive content, pay for access and more, depending on the platform.
New types of creator services are emerging, too, including the audio chat room experience pioneered by Clubhouse (and being cloned by everyone else), as well as dozens of virtual events startups hoping to win the market.
Pinterest’s attraction among such heavy competition isn’t clear, but the company will use this experiment to learn more about what works for its own community.
Pinterest tested its live streaming technology with employees a few weeks ago, but this will be the first time the feature will be available to the public.
While the event lineup can be viewed on the web, the live streams themselves will only run inside the Pinterest app for iOS and Android starting May 24th.
Millennials are flocking to fixer-uppers because it’s the only way some can afford a home
As prices for homes reach record-highs, millennials are turning to fixer-uppers as a more affordable solution.
More than three-quarters (82%) said in Bank of America Research’s sixth annual millennial home improvement survey that they’re more likely to buy a fixer-upper than a newly built home. The survey polled over 1,100 members of the generation.
It’s the latest takeaway from a historic housing shortage that’s forcing millennials into their second housing crisis in 12 years. Contractors have been underbuilding since the Great Recession. The US has been about 6.5 million homes short since 2000 and is facing a two-month supply of homes when it should have had about six months, Gay Cororaton, the director of housing and commercial research for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), previously told Insider.
Millennial demand has only exacerbated the shrinking inventory. It’s led to cutthroat competition rife with bidding wars, as aspiring homebuyers throw down all-cash offers and higher down payments in hopes of snagging a house. Some of those unable to outbid are resorting to buying old homes and renovating them.
Consider the millennials who have been putting bids on fixer-uppers featured in Instagram account Cheap Old Houses, which highlights historic homes that cost no more than $100,000 to buy, as The New York Post’s Shayne Benowitz reported back in August. These “old houses” are typically found in smaller towns that have become enticing in the age of coronavirus and remote work.
Finkelstein told Benowitz the account helps make homeownership more attainable for millennials, many of whom had plenty of time on their hands during quarantine for restoration projects.
Fixer uppers aren’t always cost-effective
But a fixer-upper isn’t always as affordable as it seems.
One 27-year-old that Benowitz spoke with said she had paid $18,500 for a Victorian home in West Virginia, but estimates her renovation budget would total $125,000.
Half (52%) of millennials started their home improvement projects within six months of their purchase, per the BofA survey. Many have already completed smaller, more budget-friendly projects such as painting and landscaping but still have yet to complete larger projects like bathroom and kitchen remodels.
Millennials are comfortable DIYing many of their home renovations, according to the survey, particularly the 30-something cohort. They feel more at ease painting and wallpapering and upgrading appliances, compared to more complex projects like altering floor plans and roofing.
That leaves some taking out loans to complete more complex projects. For the first time in the history of the annual survey, BofA found that millennials are using loans more frequently than cash to fund projects exceeding $10,000. When BofA last conducted the survey in 2017, only 34% were using loans for home improvement. Today, 42% of respondents are.
It hasn’t helped that a series of shortages, from lumber to semiconductor chips, and shipping delays are hijacking many costs involved with renovating a house such as wood and big appliances, making renovating more costly.
However much millennials try to find a more budget-friendly option, there will always be hidden costs to homeownership.
Facebook clarifies hate speech policies following Oversight Board recommendations
As the company has done a handful of times in the past, Facebook has agreed to change one of its policies following a ruling from the Oversight Board. In response to a decision the panel came to on a video involving two individuals wearing blackface, the company says it will tweak the policy rationale section of its community guidelines on hate speech to add more context on why it prohibits harmful stereotypes. “We want our policies to be consistent, and we do not often publish rationales for each specific policy line in our Community Standards,” Facebook says. It notes it’s now reconsidering its previous stance.
The company also plans to do a better job when notifying people that they’ve violated its rules. This is something the Oversight Board has returned to multiple times in its decisions. “We’ve made some progress on our hate speech notifications using an additional classifier that is able to predict what kind of hate speech is contained in the content,” Facebook says.
As things stand, the company has deployed updated notifications for English-speaking users that include messaging specific to their infraction. So if Facebook removes someone’s content because of the inclusion of blackface, the message points outs the post was dehumanizing. “We’ll continue to explore more granularity and expand these notifications for hate speech to other languages in the future,” the company said. It also plans to roll out that same feature to Instagram sometime in the next few months and says it will continue to explore how to make its content policy notifications more transparent.
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UIW School of Osteopathic Medicine Achieves Major Accreditation Milestone
SAN ANTONIO, May 13, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — The University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) is proud to announce that the UIW School of Osteopathic Medicine (UIWSOM) has been granted full accreditation from the American Osteopathic Association’s Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA).
“We are exceptionally proud of COCA’s decision to grant full accreditation to UIWSOM, which is dedicated to transforming students into physicians that care for the whole person and make positive impacts on their patients’ lives,” said Dr. Thomas M. Evans, UIW president. “This is yet another recognition of the high standards and outstanding education that students can expect from the UIW School of Osteopathic Medicine.”
The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) represents more than 151,000 osteopathic doctors and students across the nation. At its April 2021 meeting, COCA reviewed the self-study and comprehensive site visit report for UIWSOM and the university administration were interviewed by the COCA commissioners. Upon that review, UIWSOM was granted full accreditation.
“Receiving full accreditation from the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation is the culmination of years of determination and commitment to the UIWSOM mission and vision by hundreds of wonderful people,” says Dr. Robyn Phillips-Madson, dean of UIWSOM. “The support from the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, the University, faithful donors, our faculty, staff, administrators and learners, our Brooks neighbors and the San Antonio, Laredo and Corpus Christi communities made this possible. By the grace of God, we’ll continue to build our osteopathic medical education program and educate compassionate and competent physicians with a heart for service to the vulnerable and the underserved.”
According to the AOA, the osteopathic profession, which includes pediatricians, OB-GYNs, internists. anesthesiologists, psychiatrists, oncologists, family medicine physicians, emergency medicine physicians, dermatologists, plastic surgeons, ophthalmologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, and more, has grown 63% in the past decade and nearly 300% over the past three decades.
UIWSOM graduated its first class of doctors on May 8, 2021 with 137 learners joining the ever-growing ranks of osteopathic care givers. The mission of UIWSOM is to empower all members of the medical education community to achieve academic, professional and personal success and develop a commitment to lifelong learning through excellence in learner-centered, patient-focused education, justice-based research and meaningful partnerships of osteopathic clinical service.
MEDIA CONTACT: Michael Valdes, Media and Public Relations Manager, Office of Communications & Brand Marketing, (210) 829-6001, (210) 422-4052 or email@example.com
View original content to download multimedia:https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/uiw-school-of-osteopathic-medicine-achieves-major-accreditation-milestone-301291266.html
SOURCE University of the Incarnate Word
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