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All That and a Bag of Mail

It’s Friday and going to be over eighty degrees for the first time in what feels like forever here in Nashville. Combine that with the fact that the mask mandate on planes is over — at least for the moment — and CNN+ went down in a monster bonfire of $300 million excess, and it feels like a pretty fabulous week already.

So let’s dive right in to the most pressing questions in the OutKick universe.

Dementia Joe writes:

“Do you think Elon Musk will end up buying Twitter?”

At this point, yes, I do.

Here’s my three part rationale: Musk has now proven he has the funds to make the acquisition, there are, at least to this point, no additional bidders, and the stock price remains below his offer price. (Presently, the stock is $49 as I’m writing this Friday morning. The stock, interestingly, is up a couple of bucks this morning, which means someone may know something.)

The only way I can see them not selling to Musk is if there’s a second bidder who offers more, or at least offers a comparable price. Because if they reject Musk’s offer — and Musk walks away from his bid — then the stock price will drop back down well below $54.20 and there will be a bevy of lawsuits alleging the board violated its fiduciary duty to shareholders.

As I’ve said for weeks, I hope Musk buys Twitter because I think it would be incredibly important in setting the parameters more broadly to permit a true marketplace of ideas in this country.

Mike writes:

“Why would Biden appeal the airline mask mandate when it’s obviously not a winner politically? What could he gain from it?”

First, let’s be clear, masks do nothing to make anyone safer on airplanes or in airports. It’s all cosmetic theater designed to permit Joe Biden’s left wing base to virtue signal. The mask is the MAGA hat of the left wing, except no one ever claimed the MAGA hat had any benefits. Or mandated we all wear it.

I agree with you, I think it’s a bad political move. If Biden doesn’t appeal the Florida court ruling, then his administration can blame a Trump appointed judge for removing the mask mandate. That way, they don’t get the blame from their base for the mask mandate on airplanes ending, but they get rid of the mask mandate which is an important sign of normalcy and helps Biden in his fight to claim he beat COVID, something he can’t claim yet.

Plus, by appealing, they run the risk of losing at the circuit court — the 11th circuit is one of the most conservative in the country — and they run the risk of losing at the Supreme Court too, which would dramatically undercut the CDC’s power going forward.

The only possible political rationale I can think of here is that the Biden administration, knowing they are poised to be crushed in the midterms, may be planning to bring back emergency mail-in balloting provisions in the midterms like they did in 2020. How would they do that? By arguing it still isn’t safe to vote in person in 2022 because of COVID.

That’s the only rationale I can see here at all.

Todd writes:

“If you had to put $100 on who will be sworn in as president in January 2025, who’s getting the Benjamin?”

I’d bet on Donald Trump.

Why?

Because he’s the only person I’m 100% certain will run in 2024 right now. Joe Biden might or might not run — I think it’s crazy if you look at him and think he could manage an entire presidential campaign two years from now. And I just find it impossible to believe swing voters are putting an 82-year-old Biden in the White House four more years. It was already reckless to have him there now. But he seems to be still telling everyone he’s running. But I just don’t buy he’s running or that he will be re-elected if he does run.

Kamala Harris wants to run, but she’s held up by Biden and I don’t think she’d get elected even if she did run. Mayor Pete will never be president, at least not for the next twenty years or so, because black people won’t vote for a gay guy. (Seriously, go look at at Mayor Pete’s primary numbers with black voters, it’s the third rail Democrats won’t even mention because they enjoy calling everyone else outside their party homophobic.)

So if I had to bet on a 2024 Democrat nominee, I’d actually pick Hillary Clinton. Because I think she’ll be the nominee if Biden doesn’t run. So if I had to put money on a Democrat, I’d go with Hillary because she offers the best value.

But my top two picks would be Trump and Ron DeSantis. Because I think Republicans will win the White House in 2024, and I think it would be one of the two of them taking the oath in 2025.

Eric writes:

“With current cord cutters and now streaming slipping, why just not offer a straight à la carte cable service? If I want 8 channels tell me the price for each and let me pay that. Million $ idea or is it flawed?”

Because a standalone streaming service offering the same thing you see on TV isn’t allowed under existing cable and satellite contracts.

That’s why ESPN+ for instance features ESPN programming that doesn’t air on ESPN or ESPN2. The cable channels aren’t allowed to sell themselves to consumers individually because then the cable and satellite bundle would collapse even worse than it already has and their carriage contracts don’t permit them to do so.

Plus, you’d have to pay way more for each channel in this situation. That is, ESPN alone, for instance, would need to cost you at least $40 a month to make up for all the people who pay for ESPN now that don’t watch it. (ESPN costs $8 or more every month for everyone with a cable or satellite package. That’s expensive, around $100 a year, but it’s way less than it otherwise would cost because many people who pay for ESPN never watch it.) The cable and satellite bundle is actually a great deal for sports fans because our programming is subsidized by non-sports viewers.

If only sports fans paid for ESPN programming, then we’d all be paying $400 a year or more for ESPN by itself.

Which is why the big question I’ve been asking for years is what’s the floor when it comes to cable and satellite subscribers? There used to be 100 million cable and satellite subscribers. Now there’s around 70 million. ESPN alone lost eight million subscribers last year. How low will this number go and at what point does the number become so low that ESPN’s sports programming costs exceed their sports programming revenue? That could happen in the years ahead, if cord cutting continues at this rate.

Which is why ESPN created ESPN+ as a potential direct-to-consumer streaming bridge to the future. The idea was as the ESPN broadcast network ship sank into the sea that ESPN would be able to step directly across to a new, stronger ship, ESPN+. But as Netflix and CNN+ have just shown us, what if streaming isn’t the savior? Indeed, what if streaming has already peaked at Netflix and offers a future of massive costs and limited profits? I wrote about this earlier in the week, if you didn’t already read it.

Well, then a company like ESPN could actually be faced with two sinking ships, both of which are taking on water and losing money at the same time.

Which should be terrifying to them.

I will write on this to a deeper degree in the next couple of weeks when I get time to do so.

Anthony writes:

“Now that CNN+ has failed, what regular cable channel, regardless of their genre, would have the best subscription service? Which would have the worst? A Food Network+ with non-stop Guy Fieri would be great, a MSNBC+ with Maddow however…”

I don’t think any cable channel works as a streaming service unless it has a diehard fan base and provides something more than what people can already get on cable. That is, it has to be accretive to what’s already “free” on cable.

The amazing thing to me about CNN+ was CNN can barely get people to watch when it’s free on cable. And that’s actual news on a day to day basis. And they thought people were going to pay more money for Don Lemon, Jake Tapper, and Anderson Cooper? Most of those guys don’t have substantial audiences for free, the number of people clamoring for Jake Tapper’s book club might be in the single digits.

Then they supplemented it by finding the wokest people they could on Twitter — the Jemele Hills and Rex Chapmans of the world — and built additional programming around them.

None of this made any sense. It was a woke disaster, the Hindenburg of streaming.

What works in subscription businesses — and we built one with over 10,000 subscribers here at OutKick — is deep affinity for the subject and exclusive content that people actually want. Sports fans know that some of the best examples of subscription-based business models are fan message boards. These were some of the first things people started to pay for, this was back in the 1990s when the mantra on the rest of the Internet was everything should be free.

This isn’t a difficult concept.

Which is why I just never saw why anyone would pay for CNN+. Well, after just 21 days, it was clear the new owners of CNN felt the same way. This mistake cost CNN $300 million, which makes it, given the short duration, probably the biggest and fastest media failure, certainly in news, ever.

John writes:

“If MLB adds Nashville, will they add Las Vegas at the same time? Can major league baseball draw fans in 110 degree summer weather? Vegas is only about 40% of the size of Phoenix, and smaller than Milwaukee.”

I think the American cities MLB is considering for expansion are Nashville, Charlotte, Las Vegas and Portland. (International cities like Montreal and Mexico City, I think, are farther down the list.)

And if I were MLB, I’d be tempted to double down in the South, which I think is woefully underserved by MLB franchises, and add teams in both Nashville and Charlotte. (I’m not even sure you need to expand because if you just moved the Rays and the A’s, you’d probably make the league stronger.)

I’m going to write longer form on this, but if you look at the tremendous popularity of SEC baseball, how is it possible that there’s only one MLB team, the Atlanta Braves, in Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Kentucky and Arkansas?

The NFL has four teams in these four state footprints: the Tennessee Titans, the Atlanta Falcons, the Carolina Panthers, and the New Orleans Saints.

The NBA has four teams in these state footprints: the Atlanta Falcons, Charlotte Hornets, Memphis Grizzlies and New Orleans Pelicans.

Even the NHL has two teams: the Nashville Predators and the Carolina Hurricanes. (They had a third team in Atlanta, but no one cared so it moved.)

MLB has the Atlanta Braves. That’s a real failure by MLB to take advantage of one of the most rabid baseball markets in the country, the South. And you don’t just have to take my word for it, look at every other sports league and the teams they have in these markets. MLB is just way behind, honestly, when it comes to the Southern footprint and they need to rectify it.

I think a MLB team in Nashville would do fabulously well for certain.

Tee writes:

“With so many woke companies stock prices plummeting, is this the beginning of leftist corps reshaping their narratives to align with the masses?”

I was just on Fox News talking about this twenty minutes ago, I think what DeSantis did to Disney is the equivalent of finally throwing a punch back after taking punches for years.

Corporations have consistently bent over backwards to try and keep the woke communities happy while ignoring the larger base in their communities that just wants normalcy. They’ve punched conservatives in the face for years and just expected everyone to take it.

To me, what we’re seeing play out in corporate politics is what I’ve been talking about happening for years in sports. Over and over again, sports leagues chose woke, left wing politics. That culminated, I think to a large degree, with MLB pulling the All-Star Game out of Georgia over a voting rights bill that was actually less restrictive than the one in New York, where MLB has its corporate offices. I think MLB was stunned by the blowback over this decision and I think, frankly, the NBA was stunned by the attack on their league in the wake of all the social justice shenanigans they embraced in the bubble a few years ago. So what happened? Politics is almost completely gone from sports in the MLB and the NBA. The NFL too. (Aside from some end zone slogans and PSA commercials most people ignore.)

Sports has quietly walked back from the woke universe. And I think it’s begun to benefit from this decision.

Now we’ll see if the same thing happens with large corporations.

Keep in mind that what DeSantis is planning to do was just treat Disney the same as Sea World, Legoland and Universal Studios in Florida — he ended the special, privileged treatment for Disney World that has existed for decades. Now Disney, at least in theory, will be treated the same as the other theme parks in the state.

In so doing, if anything, he’s insisted that a corporation pay its fair share and ended their special treatment. Isn’t that what Democrats claim they want for corporations? And he’s done it while getting credit for standing up to them. It’s actually kind of brilliant.

Sean writes:

“If you got sentenced to life in prison. Would you identify as a man or woman?”

It depends on how aggressive the standards are for identifying as a woman. As in, I’m not taking any pills or getting any surgeries.

But if all I had to do to identify as a woman was grow my hair out and claim I was a woman, it would be awfully tempting. Think about it, if you had to be in jail with a ton of murderous dudes who could beat the crap out of you and might rape you at any point in time, or you could be in jail with women who offered neither of those threats, which would you rather have to deal with? (I’m talking about real jail, by the way, I’m not talking about white collar jail for someone who embezzled money or didn’t pay their taxes. I’m talking about jail with violent offenders who put you in danger at all times.)

Back when I practiced law full time, I had some criminal clients and if you haven’t ever been in a jail, it’s terrifying even to go as a guest. You feel so much better when you walk out of that place. I can’t imagine having to go to a real jail for years of my life. It would be absolutely brutal. So, yeah, I’d be tempted to do whatever I could to make it as easy as possible, even if that included identifying as a woman.

OutKick’s Thursday Night Mowing League asks:

“When was the last time you mowed your lawn?”

I’ve never mowed the grass at the house we live in now. We moved in here in March of 2015. I did, however, cut the grass at our old house. So it has been seven years since I cut the grass at my house.

For the record, I never plan on cutting the grass ever again at any home I own, and I doubt if I will ever own a lawnmower again.

If this makes me a diva, so be it. I didn’t enjoy cutting the grass.

Okay, I’m headed over to do the Clay and Buck Show now.

Hope you guys all have fantastic weekends.

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.

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