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    American Airlines raises profit forecast thanks to stronger demand and cheaper fuel

    American Airlines raised its adjusted earnings outlook for the second quarter.
    The carrier cited strong travel demand and lower fuel prices.
    American’s CEO is scheduled to speak at a Bernstein investor conference later Wednesday.

    An American Airlines plane takes off from the Miami International Airport on May 02, 2023 in Miami, Florida. 
    Joe Raedle | Getty Images

    American Airlines raised its adjusted earnings outlook for the second quarter thanks to strong travel demand and lower fuel prices.
    Adjusted per-share earnings will come in between $1.45 and $1.65, American estimated Wednesday, up from a previous forecast of $1.20 to $1.40 per share. The Fort Worth, Texas-based airline said it’s now expecting unit revenues in the three months ending June 30 to come in 1% to 3% lower than the same period last year, an improvement from a prior forecast for a decline of as much as 4%.

    American’s shares were up more than 2% in premarket trading.
    American Airlines CEO Robert Isom is scheduled to speak at the Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference at 4:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
    He will likely face questions about a new preliminary labor agreement with pilots and whether the carrier will appeal a federal judge’s ruling this month that knocked down American’s partnership in the Northeast with JetBlue Airways.
    The airline is scheduled to report results for the second quarter at the end of July. More

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    Memorial Day air travel tops 2019 levels as consumers keep shelling out for trips

    The TSA said it screened nearly 9.8 million people over the weekend.
    The tally topped pre-pandemic levels.
    Relatively good weather helped airline operations over the holiday.

    Travelers arrive for flights at O’Hare Airport on May 25, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois.
    Scott Olson | Getty Images

    Memorial Day air travel surpassed pre-pandemic levels, showing how consumers continue to shell out for trips despite persistent inflation.
    The Transportation Security Administration screened 9.79 million people from Friday through Monday, up slightly from the holiday weekend in 2019. Friday’s screening total of more than 2.7 million people was a post-pandemic record, the agency said.

    The start of the peak travel season is crucial for airlines as they test travelers’ appetite to continue paying for vacations and other trips while higher interest rates and lofty food and housing costs weigh on household budgets.
    Last year, bad weather coupled with staffing shortages and other strains led to an increase in flight disruptions over the peak period. Airline executives have been upbeat about their carriers’ ability to operate reliably this summer.
    Relatively clear weather helped air travel over the weekend, and 16% of flights arrived late from Friday through Monday, according to FlightAware, a flight-tracking site. Delays fell from the holiday weekend last year. More

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    Home price declines may be over, S&P Case-Shiller says

    Nationally, home prices in March were 0.7% higher than March 2022, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices said.
    After seasonal adjustment, prices increased nationally 0.4% in March compared with February. The 10-city composite gained 0.6% and 20-city composite rose 0.5%.

    A potential buyer walks in to view a home for sale during an open house in Parkland, Florida on May 25, 2021. 
    Carline Jean | Tribune News Service | Getty Images

    Steep competition in the housing market and low supply are heating up home prices again.
    Nationally, home prices in March were 0.7% higher than March 2022, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices said Tuesday.

    “The modest increases in home prices we saw a month ago accelerated in March 2023,” said Craig J. Lazzara, managing director at S&P DJI in a release. “Two months of increasing prices do not a definitive recovery make, but March’s results suggest that the decline in home prices that began in June 2022 may have come to an end.”
    The 10-city composite, which includes the Los Angeles and New York metropolitian areas, dropped 0.8% year over year, compared with a 0.5% increase in the previous month. The 20-city composite, which includes Dallas-Fort Worth and the Detroit area, fell 1.1%, down from a 0.4% annual gain in the previous month.
    Home prices are rising again month to month, however. After seasonal adjustment, prices increased nationally 0.4% in March compared with February. The 10-city composite gained 0.6% and 20-city composite rose 0.5%.
    Lazzara also noted that the price acceleration nationally was also apparent at a more granular level. Before seasonal adjustment, prices rose in all 20 cities in March (versus in 12 in February), and in all 20 price gains accelerated between February and March.
    Miami, Tampa, and Charlotte saw the highest year-over-year gains among the 20 cities in March. Charlotte replaced Atlanta in third place. Compared with a year ago, 19 of 20 cities reported lower prices with only Chicago showing an increase at 0.4%.
    “One of the most interesting aspects of our report continues to lie in its stark regional differences,” added Lazzara. “The farther west we look, the weaker prices are, with Seattle (-12.4%) now leading San Francisco (-11.2%) at the bottom of the league table. It’s unsurprising that the Southeast (+5.4%) remains the country’s strongest region, while the West (-6.2%) remains the weakest.” More

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    Nvidia is not the only firm cashing in on the AI gold rush

    A GREY RECTANGULAR building on the outskirts of San Jose houses rows upon rows of blinking machines. Tangles of colourful wires connect high-end servers, networking gear and data-storage systems. Bulky air-conditioning units whirr overhead. The noise forces visitors to shout. The building belongs to Equinix, a company which leases data-centre space. The equipment inside belongs to companies from corporate giants to startups, which are increasingly using it to run their artificial-intelligence (AI) systems. The AI gold rush, spurred by the astounding sophistication of “generative” systems such as ChatGPT, a hit virtual conversationalist, promises to generate rich profits for those who harness the technology’s potential. As in the early days of any gold rush, though, it is already minting fortunes for the sellers of the requisite picks and shovels.On May 24th Nvidia, which designs the semiconductors of choice for many AI servers, beat analysts’ revenue and profit forecasts for the three months to April. It expects sales of $11bn in its current quarter, half as much again as what Wall Street was predicting. As its share price leapt by 30% the next day, the company’s market value flirted with $1trn. Nvidia’s chief executive, Jensen Huang, declared on May 29th that the world is at “the tipping point of a new computing era”.Other chip firms, from fellow designers like AMD to manufacturers such as TSMC of Taiwan, have been swept up in the AI excitement. So have providers of other computing infrastructure—which includes everything from those colourful cables, noisy air-conditioning units and data-centre floor space to the software that helps run the AI models and marshal the data. An equally weighted index of 30-odd such companies has risen by 40% since ChatGPT’s launch in November, compared with 13% for the tech-heavy NASDAQ index (see chart). “A new tech stack is emerging,” sums up Daniel Jeffries of the AI Infrastructure Alliance, a lobby group. On the face of it, the AI gubbins seems far less exciting than the clever “large language models” behind ChatGPT and its fast-expanding array of rivals. But as the model-builders and makers of applications that piggyback on those models vie for a slice of the future AI pie, they all need computing power in the here and now—and lots of it. The latest AI systems, including the generative sort, are much more computing-intensive than older ones, let alone non-AI applications. Amin Vahdat, head of AI infrastructure at Google Cloud Platform, the internet giant’s cloud-computing arm, observes that model sizes have grown ten-fold each year for the past six years. GPT-4, the latest version of the one which powers ChatGPT, analyses data using perhaps 1trn parameters, more than five times as many as its predecessor. As the models grow in complexity, the computational needs for training them increase correspondingly. Once trained, AIs require less number-crunching capacity to be used in a process called inference. But given the range of applications on offer, inference will, cumulatively, also demand plenty of processing oomph. Microsoft has more than 2,500 customers for a service that uses technology from OpenAI, ChatGPT’s creator, of which the software giant owns nearly half. That is up ten-fold since the previous quarter. Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has six products with 2bn or more users globally—and plans to turbocharge them with generative AI. The most obvious winners from surging demand for computing power are the chipmakers. Companies like Nvidia and AMD get a licence fee every time their blueprints are etched onto silicon by manufacturers such as TSMC on behalf of end-customers, notably the big providers of cloud computing that powers most AI applications. AI is thus a boon to the chip designers, since it benefits from more powerful chips (which tend to generate higher margins), and more of them. UBS, a bank, reckons that in the next one or two years AI will increase demand for specialist chips known as graphics-processing units (GPUs) by $10bn-15bn. As a result, Nvidia’s annual data-centre revenue, which accounts for 56% of its sales, could double. AMD is bringing out a new GPU later this year. Although it is a much smaller player in the GPU-design game than Nvidia, the scale of the AI boom means that the firm is poised to benefit “even if it just gets the dregs” of the market, says Stacy Rasgon of Bernstein, a broker. Chip-design startups focused on AI, such as Cerebras and Graphcore, are trying to make a name for themselves. PitchBook, a data provider, counts about 300 such firms. Naturally, some of the windfall will also accrue to the manufacturers. In April TSMC’s boss, C.C. Wei, talked cautiously of “incremental upside in AI-related demand”. Investors have been rather more enthusiastic. The company’s share price rose by 10% after Nvidia’s latest earnings, adding around $20bn to its market capitalisation. Less obvious beneficiaries also include companies that allow more chips to be packaged into a single processing unit. Besi, a Dutch firm, makes the tools that help bond chips together. According to Pierre Ferragu of New Street Research, another firm of analysts, the Dutch company controls three-quarters of the market for high-precision bonding. Its share price has jumped by more than half this year. UBS estimates that gpus make up about half the cost of specialised AI servers, compared with a tenth for standard servers. But they are not the only necessary gear. To work as a single computer, a data centre’s GPUs also need to talk to each other. That, in turn, requires increasingly advanced networking equipment, such as switches, routers and specialist chips. The market for such kit is expected to grow by 40% annually in the next few years, to nearly $9bn by 2027, according to 650 Group, a research firm. Nvidia, which also licenses such kit, accounts for 78% of global sales. But competitors like Arista Networks, a Californian firm, are getting a look-in from investors, too: its share price is up by nearly 70% in the past year. Broadcom, which sells specialist chips that help networks operate, said that its annual sales of such semiconductors would quadruple in 2023, to $800m.The AI boom is also good news for companies that assemble the servers that go into data centres, notes Peter Rutten of IDC, another research firm. Dell’Oro Group, one more firm of analysts, predicts that data centres across the world will increase the share of servers dedicated to AI from less than 10% today to about 20% within five years, and that kit’s share of data centres’ capital spending on servers will rise from about 20% today to 45%. This will benefit server manufacturers like Wistron and Inventec, both from Taiwan, which produce custom-built servers chiefly for giant cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft’s Azure. Smaller manufacturers should do well, too. The bosses of Wiwynn, another Taiwanese server-maker, recently said that AI-related projects account for more than half of their current order book. Super Micro, an American firm, said that in the three months to April AI products accounted for 29% of its sales, up from an average of 20% in the previous 12 months.All this AI hardware requires specialist software to operate. Some of these programs come from the hardware firms; Nvidia’s software platform, called CUDA, allows customers to make the most of its GPUs, for example. Other firms create applications that let AI firms manage data (Datagen, Pinecone, Scale AI) More

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    Restaurants expect strong sales this summer. Consumers aren’t so sure

    Restaurants are expecting a boom in sales this summer, but consumers are still concerned about inflation.
    Last year, restaurant sales in May, June and July were tepid as higher gas prices and concerns about the economy weighed on consumers.
    Roughly a third of consumers surveyed by Datassential plan to dine out less over the next month, and about half plan to maintain their current restaurant-spending habits.

    A waitress delivers sushi orders at Masa Hibachi Steakhouse & Sushi in Silver Spring, Maryland.
    Bill O’Leary | The Washington Post | Getty Images

    Warmer weather usually boosts restaurant sales, but diners may hold back for the second straight summer as inflation weighs on consumers’ minds — and wallets.
    “I think operators are still hopeful for a good summer boon in foot traffic and sales … but I think on the consumer side, they’re more hesitant,” said Huy Do, research and insights manager at market research firm Datassential.

    Last year, consumers pulled back on their restaurant visits in May, June and July amid inflation concerns. In addition to higher restaurant bills, diners were also paying more at the gas pump and in grocery stores.
    Salad chain Sweetgreen said its sales slowed after Memorial Day and blamed the trend on a range of factors, including erratic returns to offices and surging summer travel. Chipotle told investors that its sales decelerated starting in late May, citing the broader economy, its new workforce and a return to normal seasonal fluctuations in college towns. And Shake Shack said its June sales disappointed as lower-income consumers visited less frequently.
    Restaurant sales snapped back in August, which Black Box Intelligence attributed to higher consumer confidence levels as gas prices fell.
    Inflation may be easing this year, but prices are still rising, adding to worries about regional bank failures and a potential recession before year-end. U.S. consumer sentiment fell to a six-month low in May, fueled by concerns about the debt limit standoff, according to a University of Michigan consumer survey.
    Roughly a third of consumers surveyed by Datassential plan to dine out less over the next month, and about half plan to maintain their current restaurant-spending habits.

    “Inflation and the economy are still more top of mind to consumers in terms of their financial planning, rather than any sort of fun or anticipation for travel,” Do said.
    Despite diners’ caution, restaurants are optimistic that they’ll still see a summer boom. Nearly half of operators surveyed by Datassential anticipate higher sales or improved traffic this summer season.
    The National Restaurant Association issued a “cautiously optimistic” seasonal forecast, according to Hudson Riehle, the trade group’s senior vice president of research.
    Bars and eateries will add more than half a million seasonal jobs this summer — assuming lawmakers raise the debt limit, the NRA predicts. If the restaurant industry meets those expectations, it would be the strongest summer for hiring since 2017.
    “The summer of 2023 is obviously going to be the most normal summer employment market since 2019,” Riehle told CNBC.
    Summer typically ushers in a wave of seasonal restaurant jobs to meet higher demand, particularly in the Northeast and tourist destinations.

    Travel tail wind

    The travel industry is anticipating strong demand this year, which could boost sales for some restaurants. Half of Americans plan to travel and stay in paid lodging this summer, up from 46% last year, according to a Deloitte survey.
    Roughly a quarter of every dollar spent at restaurants is tied to travel and tourism, according to Riehle’s estimates. Across restaurant segments, fast-food and fine-dining restaurants tend to benefit the most from tourism, Datassential’s Do said. Casual dining, which is already struggling to draw in eaters, is the least likely to see sales jump from travel.
    But even a rosy travel outlook won’t necessarily lift the U.S. restaurant industry. Deloitte’s survey also found that more Americans are planning to travel internationally this summer — although international tourists visiting the U.S. could help make up that difference.
    On top of that, only 53% of respondents plan to take at least one road trip, down from nearly two-thirds last year. That’s bad news for roadside fast-food restaurants that count on the business of feeding hungry travelers.

    The push for value

    Heading into summer, deals and promotions usually slow down because operators don’t need them to attract customers. But diners are starting to push back on higher menu prices and are embracing ways to pay less for their meals.
    In the first quarter, restaurant traffic from consumers who took advantage of deals rose 8% compared with the year-earlier period, according to market research firm Circana.
    At the same time, most restaurants’ profit margins are improving, so some are pivoting to value meals and other deals to draw customers.
    For example, fast-casual chain Noodles & Co. told investors earlier in May that its customers were resisting its higher prices, especially after its latest increase of 5% in February. At the same time, the cost of ingredients for dishes like BBQ Chicken Mac have fallen faster than executives predicted, the company said.
    So, Noodles & Co. plans to lean into deals. It brought back its popular 7 for $7 menu and introduced a $10 mac and cheese meal.
    “Given where consumer sentiment is today, some of the data we’re seeing, we do feel that have to be a bit more value-oriented,” CEO Dave Boennighausen told CNBC. More

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    Streaming services are removing tons of movies and shows — it’s not personal, it’s strictly business

    Consumers thought streaming would be forever, but library content is disappearing as studios seek to cut costs.
    Wall Street has turned up the heat on media companies, now focusing on if and when streaming will be profitable versus if they’re putting up big subscriber numbers.
    Removing content from streaming platforms is a way for streamers to avoid residual payments and licensing fees.

    The Disney+ logo is displayed on a TV screen in Paris, December 26, 2019.
    Chesnot | Getty Images

    Streaming was supposed to be forever.
    That was the promise of a digital library of movies and TV shows.

    Consumers got used to Netflix cycling through titles, aware that as Hollywood studios launched their own streaming services, proprietary content would transition to a new platform.
    Even when Warner Bros. Discovery pulled content as part of planned tax write-offs tied to its merger, consumers seemed to accept the move as the cost of doing business.
    However, as Disney is set to yank dozens of shows and films from Disney+ and Hulu, including “Willow,” “The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers” and “The Mysterious Benedict Society,” subscribers are suddenly faced with a new reality.
    “At first I expected any show that was on a streaming platform would stay on that platform,” said Conrad Burton, 35, an account manager at a transportation company in Raleigh, North Carolina. “But then I started noticing things expiring.”

    What’s the deal?

    After the initial bloom of new platforms and subscriber growth, aided by pandemic lockdowns and a surge of fresh content, the digital streaming industry has cooled. And Wall Street has turned up the heat on media companies, now focusing on if and when streaming will be profitable versus if those providers are putting up big subscriber numbers. The change came last year after Netflix reported its first subscriber loss in a decade. 

    “What is hitting their income statements is the amortization of content that’s already been made and released,” said Michael Nathanson, an analyst at SVB MoffettNathanson. “Warner Bros. Discovery was the first one to figure this out, so we have to give credit where it’s due. They said they need to get their earnings up, so they started taking shows off the app. Disney is now doing that and we should expect Paramount to follow suit. And one day Netflix may even do the same thing.”
    It’s been difficult for consumers to understand why content made specifically for streaming platforms has been removed, especially when Netflix originals remain untouched in its library. 
    “From a consumer standpoint, what they want is they want to be able to always have access to their content,” said Dan Rayburn, a media and streaming analyst.
    “The part that really confuses consumers is because they don’t understand how content is licensed,” he said. “They do get confused when one day content is on a service and then disappears or the content is still in the service, but it’s only X number of seasons.”
    Removing content from platforms is a way for streamers to avoid residual payments and licensing fees.
    “Much like syndication of Hollywood’s yesteryear, streaming services must pay for the right to host a title,” explained Brandon Katz, an industry strategist at Parrot Analytics.
    He noted that if a title is not owned by the streamer, then a licensing fee must be paid to the studio that owns that content. For example, Hulu licenses “The Handmaid’s Tale” from MGM Television.
    Even titles that are owned in-house must be licensed. That’s why NBCUniversal had to pay itself $500 million to stream Universal TV’s “The Office” on Peacock and Warner Bros. Discovery paid $425 million for the streaming rights to the WBTV-produced “Friends.”
    “The balance sheet must reflect that,” Katz said.

    In this photo illustration, the Max logo is seen displayed on a smartphone, the HBO Max and Discovery+ logo in the background. 
    Rafael Henrique | Lightrocket | Getty Images

    By removing the content specifically made for streaming rather than licensed shows and movies, Warner Bros. Discovery and Disney can immediately cut expenses. Warner Bros. Discovery saved “tens of millions of dollars” after eliminating content, CNBC previously reported. 
    The studio’s removal of movies and TV shows began last summer, initially with titles such as the “Sesame Street” spinoff “The Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo” and teen drama “Generation.” 
    But in the ensuing months, more and more original HBO and Max content was removed. Most notably, the sci-fi dramas “Westworld” and “Raised By Wolves” disappeared. 
    “In my opinion, it discourages subscribers from checking out future original content,” said Matt Cartelli, 33, from New York state’s Hudson Valley. “Streaming used to be seen as a safe haven for consumers who were sick and tired of seeing shows canceled on traditional TV. Now streamers are following suit by canceling their own underperformers.”
    Cartelli was especially disappointed when he learned Disney+ initially planned to remove “Howard,” about a songwriter whose work was heard in Disney films such as the animated “The Little Mermaid.” Disney reversed its decision about that title after facing backlash on social media.
    And streamers have a fine line to walk.
    “The risk is with the writers’ strike,” Nathanson said. “If it continues for awhile, then they will rely on library content. If there’s nothing on there, churn will only get worse.”

    Should it stay or should it go?

    Streaming services are being strategic about what sticks around and what leaves their platforms. Major hits such as Max’s “Peacemaker” or Disney’s “The Mandalorian” are unlikely to be pulled from their respective apps.
    Meanwhile, underperforming shows and films could be on the chopping block.
    In the first quarter of the year, the demand for the dozens of shows and movies being cut from Disney+ represented only 1.9% of the total Disney+ catalog, according to data from Parrot Analytics. For comparison, “The Mandalorian” accounted for 1.3% of total demand during the same period.
    Similarly, the removed titles for Hulu accounted for just 0.4% of demand on the streaming service.
    And these titles aren’t lost forever.
    Soon after cutting programs from Max, Warner Bros. Discovery began licensing the content to Fox Corp.’s Tubi and Roku, which are free, ad-supported streaming television platforms — also known as FAST — allowing it to bring in a new source of revenue for the content. 
    As media companies have been desperate to make streaming profitable, the businesses have been turning more and more to new advertising strategies, from cheaper, ad-supported offerings to putting content on FAST channels.
    “My main takeaway is that nothing is guaranteed to remain on streaming forever. You are paying for a convenient way to watch content, but it is not a replacement for buying a movie or TV show on home video,” Cartelli said.  More

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    Global audience demand for streaming Asian movies, series grows with hits like ‘Squid Game’

    Global demand for Asian films and TV shows has risen in recent quarters, driven by easier access on streaming services and hit shows like Netflix’s “Squid Game,” according to data provider Parrot Analytics.
    While supply of Asian content is still outpacing audience demand, the gap is closing.
    Korean content makes up the bulk of Asian content libraries, but demand for Chinese and Japanese language has been rising.

    Scene from “Squid Game” by Netflix
    Source: Netflix

    The popularity of Netflix’s hit drama “Squid Game” and other Korean series, as well as the recent success of films like “Minari” and “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” has helped boost the demand for Asian language movies and TV shows globally.
    A large part of that demand comes as U.S. viewers have easier access to global content than ever before thanks to major streaming services such as Netflix and Warner Bros. Discovery’s Max, as well as niche offerings like Rakuten Viki, which focuses on Asian entertainment.

    Streaming services’ unwieldy libraries have led to some media companies implementing cost-cutting efforts to make the apps profitable. But investment in Asian, especially Korean, content is still high.

    Loved around the world

    The share of global demand for Asian language content reached 25% in the first quarter of this year, up from about 15% in the same period in 2020, according to data provider Parrot Analytics.
    While supply of such content outstripped demand — meaning there’s more produced than people are watching — the gap between the two is narrowing, said Brandon Katz, an entertainment industry strategist at Parrot. During the first quarter, supply was 4.7% greater than demand in the Asian language category, an improvement from 9.8% in the first quarter of 2020.
    “Some might think that supply outstripping demand globally could mean a slight pullback in investment could be on the table. But that gap is very much shrinking,” Katz said, pointing to the success of Netflix hits such as “All of Us Are Dead” and “The Glory.” “There is steady progress being made, which was reflected in 2022.”
    Since the beginning of this year, those titles, along with “Squid Game” and “Extraordinary Attorney Woo” have continuously claimed four spots on Netflix’s global top 10 non-English TV hits. Thriller show “Squid Game” took the first spot for a spell.

    Last month, Netflix said it would grow its Korean content, roughly doubling the total investment since the company began its offering in Korea in 2016. The behemoth streaming service said it plans to invest $2.5 billion over the next four years to produce more Korean shows and movies. The investment comes after 60% of all Netflix members watched at least one Korean title in 2022.
    While global demand for Korean-language TV shows has increased since early 2020, it has still been outpaced by the supply of the content. Meanwhile, that demand has stagnated in comparison to other Asian language TV series, specifically Japanese and Chinese, according to Parrot.
    Netflix will focus on more than the increasingly popular Korean drama genre, Don Kang, Netflix’s vice president of Korean content, recently told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”
    “Our primary focus is the local audience in Korea. We’ve found time after time, when a show is loved by a Korean audience, it has a very, very high likelihood of being loved by the audiences or members around the world,” Kang said.

    Beyond the mainstream

    Netflix is part of a larger trend. Its popular shows — along with hit Asian American films such as “Minari” and “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” which recently swept the major awards at the Oscars this year —have benefitted other streaming platforms and opened the U.S. audience up to exploring more Asian movies and TV shows.

    Arrows pointing outwards

    Rakuten Viki homepage
    Source: Rakuten Viki

    Rakuten Viki, a streaming service owned by Japanese ecommerce giant Rakuten, has seen a surge in growth in recent years across various Asian language content.
    The company said its registered user base grew by 27% globally in 2022, leading the streamer to increase its investment in content by 17% that year. Korean content remains the majority of what is consumed on the service, but viewership for Japanese, Chinese and Thai-language shows increased, too.
    Karen Paek, vice president of marketing at Rakuten Viki, said in an interview that while the company has been in the Asian entertainment space for more than 10 years, it’s recently seen a growing interest and passion around the world for its shows, which are mostly licensed.
    “For Viki specifically, we have been seeing a shift in terms of the ethnic makeup of our viewership toward non-Asians,” Paek said. “But at the same time, the whole audience size is growing.”
    Paek said the streamer sees a boost in registered viewers and viewership in general when hits like “Squid Game” hit the mainstream.
    The user base for Rakuten Viki has been so passionate that the subtitles for much of its content are actually generated by a volunteer community around the world. Its content is mainly produced and created in Asian countries, although the service licenses hits like “The Farewell,” especially during Asian American Pacific Islander month, for its U.S. audience.
    Other streaming services are taking a similar approach. Max said it would increase and highlight Asian content during AAPI month.
    “We are seeing an audience shift in terms of what they are open to watching outside of K-dramas,” Paek said, pointing to Chinese and Japanese dramas, as well as the “Thai boy love genre,” which has been a big hit for the service. More

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    Why major commercial real estate firms are joining resources to recruit Black student-athletes

    A new partnership is encouraging Black student-athletes to consider working in the commercial real estate market after graduation.
    The arrangement is a new focus from Project Destined — a nonprofit founded by former Carlyle Group principal Cedric Bobo to promote ownership for young students of color.
    Some of the largest real estate development, finance and management firms have signed on to fund the internships and mentor the students.

    Cedric Bobo discusses a new program for Black student-athletes to transition into the commercial real estate market.
    Diana Olick | CNBC

    When Darius Livingston graduated from the University of California, Davis, two years ago, he knew his football career was over. Like most of his former teammates — and the majority of college athletes — he wasn’t going pro.
    Instead, Livingston went into commercial real estate, thanks to lessons he learned from a paid internship program that teaches young students of color the fundamentals of finance, with a particular focus on real estate investing.

    The program, Project Destined, is a nonprofit founded by former Carlyle Group principal Cedric Bobo.
    Bobo made a name for himself in real estate investing and then decided to pay it forward. He launched the finance program in 2016 primarily for high school students. Then he broadened it to colleges, seeing the opportunity for both internships and jobs before and after graduation.
    Eager to diversify their workforces, some of the largest real estate development, finance and management firms have signed on to fund the internships and mentor the students. That includes names like Boston Properties, Greystar, Brookfield, CBRE, Equity Residential, Fifth Wall, JLL, Skanska, Vornado and Walker & Dunlop.
    The program has trained more than 5,000 participants from over 350 universities worldwide and has partnered with over 250 real estate firms.
    And now, it’s gearing some of its efforts specifically toward Black student-athletes.

    After doing a pilot program recently with student-athletes from UC Davis, Bobo has announced a partnership with the Black Student-Athlete Summit, a professional and academic support organization, to offer paid, virtual internships to 100 student-athletes from nine Division I schools. It includes 25 hours of training.
    “Program participants will also join executives to evaluate real-time commercial real estate transactions in their community and compete in pitch competitions to senior industry leaders,” according to a release announcing the partnership. “The internship includes opportunities for scholarships and networking.”
    Livingston went through the UC Davis pilot in his last semester of college, then got internships with Eastdil and Eden Housing. He is now an acquisitions and development associate at Catalyst Housing Group, a California-based real estate development firm and a financial backer of the new partnership.

    “I think, for me, it was really a realization that I probably won’t be a first-round draft pick, and that’s OK,” explained Livingston. “It’s really being exposed to other opportunities. That’s why I’m so blessed to have Project Destined come along and expose me to the commercial real estate industry and the mindset that I deserve to be an owner in the communities that I live in.”
    That right of ownership has long been Bobo’s mantra and was the crux of his pitch as he announced the new arm of his program to hundreds of students at the Black Student-Athletes Summit at USC. He wants them to understand that they can create change in their own neighborhoods by owning and managing real estate. More important, he wants them to know that ownership is possible.
    “Our program is not just about how we see you all,” Bobo said of the real estate executives who were on hand for the announcement. “It’s how you see yourselves.”
    While the graduation rate for Black student-athletes is improving slowly, a lot of students who were showered with resources in school find themselves struggling once they finish their athletic endeavors and get out in the workforce.
    “A lot of these kids may think they’re a first-round draft pick, and that is a percent of a percent of a percent of a percent, so it’s really being real with yourself and knowing that you deserve much more than what you’re simply exposed to, and that’s just sports,” Livingston said.
    Financial support for the program comes from real estate firms including BGO, Brookfield, Catalyst Housing Group, Dune Real Estate Partners, Jemcor Development Partners, Landspire Group, Marcus & Millichap, Virtu Investments and The Vistria Group, among others.
    “The expansion of this platform is a natural evolution of this collective effort and will provide tangible pathways for thousands of Black student-athletes to pursue future careers in commercial real estate,” said Jordan Moss, who is also a former student-athlete at UC Davis and the founder and CEO of Catalyst.
    Project Destined also has been working with the NBA and the WNBA to give professional athletes more options after they’re finished with their athletic careers.
    Livingston said he thinks athletes make the best employees.
    “We play to win,” he explained. “It’s the competitive nature. We want to outwork our opportunities.” More