- Kim Kardashian West has focused her latest criminal justice efforts on Kevin Cooper, a death row inmate who was convicted of killing two adults and two children in 1983.
- Cooper claims he is innocent and says he was framed by police for the murders.
- Kardashian West believes Cooper and lobbied for CA Governor Gavin Newsom to order more DNA examination into the case.
- While many have praised her for supporting Cooper, others, including the mother of one of the victims, are frustrated and disappointed to see her fighting for a man who has been convicted of gruesome crimes and has separately been accused of two rapes.
Kim’s Recent Efforts
Kim Kardashian West has earned a lot of praise in recent months for her prison reform advocacy. However, the reality star turned aspiring lawyer is now facing some backlash for the latest inmate she has focused her efforts on.
Kardashian West has recently been speaking with 61-year-old death row inmate Kevin Cooper. Cooper was convicted of using a hatchet to kill Doug and Peggy Ryen, their 10-year-old daughter Jessica, and an 11-year-old boy named Christopher Hughes, who was sleeping over at the Ryens’ Chino Hills, California home in 1983. The Ryens’ 8-year-old son survived the attack.
Cooper, who is currently behind bars in San Quentin State Prison, has maintained his innocence throughout his trial and incarceration and claims he was framed for the murders.
Kardashian West successfully lobbied for California Governor Gavin Newsom to order more DNA examination into the case. On Friday, she tweeted a photo with Cooper and said, “I found him to be thoughtful and honest and I believe he is innocent of the crimes for which he was convicted.”
In a separate tweet, she added that she is hopeful Cooper will be exonerated.
Kardashian West’s efforts to help exonerate Cooper have since been met with some criticism. Many fans were upset with her for siding with a man who has been convicted of gruesome murders and has previously been accused of rape, according to the New York Times.
He may not have committed those murders but he admitted to raping and kidnapping an underage female along with many other charges of burglary, assault and more rapes. He’s not a good person.— ProudCanadianGirl779🇨🇦 (@WWCellBlockH) June 1, 2019
He admitted to the KIDNAP and RAPE of an UNDERAGE girl, then was also accused by another female. Fuck this shit. Free people who aren’t a danger to society. Imagine if that underage girl was one of your children. But security keeps you safe, so it doesn’t matter, right?— Cat🌱 (@cattfenn) June 1, 2019
Cooper was accused of raping an underage girl in Pennsylvania about a year before the Ryens’ killings. He was also accused of raping another woman in California, weeks after the Chino Hills murders.
Despite all of this, Cooper has maintained his innocence in the Ryen family case. Last May, the San Bernardino District Attorney’s Office issued a 94-page denial to Cooper’s petition for clemency. In it, they called him a “brutal killer who has lead a life of crime and been convicted of numerous violent and serious crimes on both sides of this country.”
“Few cases have been subject to the scrutiny that this case has experienced,” the document says.“Cooper was convicted by ‘the overwhelming evidence of his guilt’ that was presented at his trial.’”
One of the loudest voices opposing Kardashian West’s efforts is Mary Ann Hughes, the mother of 11-year-old Christopher. Hughes told TMZ on Sunday that she was disgusted to see the Kardashian West with Cooper.
“It makes me feel sick to my stomach and I pity her. For what she’s doing to us, there’s nothing to justify what she’s doing to us, the immense pain she is causing us.”
Hughes added that Kardashian West has “obviously has not read all of the actual evidence.”
“She has bought into half-truths perpetrated by the defense. If she actually sat down and read the transcripts of all the trials and appeals, she would be sick to her stomach to be in the same room with him,” Hughes said. “He’s 100 percent guilty and the evidence shows it.”
In the interview with TMZ, Hughes also pointed to the 1982 accusation of rape against Cooper. “She portrays herself as being for women’s rights and for the women’s movement and yet she is supporting a rapist and a murderer.”
However, some were glad to see Kardashian West fighting for Cooper. Food Network host Sunny Anderson tweeted, “her dad would be so proud.”
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who has previously argued that Cooper was framed by police, also supported the move. “Brava to @KimKardashian for meeting Kevin Cooper, a man on death row who i believe was framed for murder by the San Bernardino County sheriff’s office.“
Since last year, Kim Kardashian and the legal team she works with have successfully freed over a dozen non-violent drug offenders.
Netflix Passes 200M Subscribers as Other Streamers Struggle With Retention
- In a letter to shareholders, Netflix said it has hit over 200 million subscribers following a successful year of growth.
- The pandemic gave Netflix a significant subscriber boost in March and April. The company continued to perform well even in its final quarter, gaining 8.5 million subscribers when it was only projected to add 6 million.
- The data also highlights how relatively unaffected Netflix has been by new streaming services entering the market. While companies like Disney+, HBO Max, and Peacock continue to grow, they also struggle to retain the subscribers that sign up.
Netflix Passes 200 Million Subscribers
Netflix has topped 200 million subscribers following a year of strong growth in 2020.
In its Tuesday letter to shareholders, Netflix announced that it added 8.5 million subscribers in its fourth quarter. This exceeds projections, which estimated the streaming giant would only add around 6 million. In total, Netflix gained 37 million new memberships throughout 2020, bringing the company to 203.6 million subscribers.
Pandemic lockdowns gave Netflix a substantial boost in March in April. In the company’s first two quarters, it added a combined 25.7 million subscribers. According to data from the letter, Netflix had added over 10 million more subscribers by May of 2020 than it had by May of 2019.
When it comes to the success of their fourth quarter, Netflix pointed to shows like “Bridgerton” and “The Crown.” The fourth season of “The Crown” hit the platform in November, prompting many to return to older seasons of the show. Netflix claims the series has been viewed by 100 million households since it first aired in 2016.
Success Amid Growth of Competition
The year 2020 could have been a difficult one for Netflix as new streaming services entered the market. Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, Peacock and more have all made waves with their original programming or by taking some of their brand’s content from Netflix to host on their own site. User-based content on YouTube and TikTok also became increasingly popular throughout the pandemic, further posing as a threat to Netflix.
Still, it reached a massive milestone.
“Our strategy is simple: if we can continue to improve Netflix every day to better delight our members, we can be their first choice for streaming entertainment,” Netflix said in the letter. “This past year is a testament to this approach.”
Netflix potentially sees Disney+ as the biggest competitor among new platforms. In its letter, the company noted that the streamer added 87 million subscribers in its first year. In a Q&A, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings seemed enthusiastic about this competition.
“It’s super impressive what Disney’s done,” he said. “It’s going to be great for the world that Disney and Netflix are competing show-by-show, movie-by-movie. We’re very fired up about catching them in family animation, maybe eventually passing them, we’ll see. It’s a long way to go just to catch them, and maintaining our lead in general entertainment that’s so stimulating like ‘Bridgerton,’ which I don’t think you’re going to see on Disney anytime soon.”
Streamers Struggle with Retaining Subscribers
Even as new streamers have had impressive years, there is one hurdle that many are still struggling to jump over: retaining the subscribers who sign up. The Los Angeles Times named Disney+, HBO Max, Peacock, and Apple TV+ in particular, writing that people create accounts with these services, watch the TV shows or movies they are interested in, and cancel once they are done.
An October survey from Deloitte said that 46% of respondents canceled at least one streaming service in the last 6 months, which is up 20% from January of last year. Most who had canceled said they did so because they had finished watching whatever programming it was that brought them to that service.
Places like Disney+ and HBO Max are really vulnerable to this because they have banked on drawing people in with exclusive marquis titles like “Hamilton” or “Wonder Woman 1984.” However, since they are newer, they are still building their original programming catalog, meaning that people can quickly burn through highlight titles.
See what others are saying: (Los Angeles Times) (Wall Street Journal) (The Hollywood Reporter)
Paramount+ To Launch March 4
- ViacomCBS is launching Paramount+ in the United States and Latin America on March 4 before rolling out to other markets internationally later this year.
- The streaming service will be a relaunch and expansion of CBS All Access. It will include content from Nickelodeon, MTV, and more on top of the CBS-focused selection.
Paramount+ Gets Launch Date
ViacomCBS will be launching its streaming service Paramount+ in the U.S. and Latin America on March 4 before rolling out in more countries throughout the year.
It will be an expansion and rebrand of CBS All Access, the service the company currently offers that is used by nearly 8 million subscribers. Paramount+ will go beyond the CBS-centric content promoted there, including works from brands like Nickelodeon, MTV, BET, Comedy Central, and the Smithsonian Channel.
More details about their streaming strategy will be released during an investor event on February 24. Right now, ViacomCBS is boasting that the service will have over 30,000 episodes and movies in their catalog, which will also include live sports and breaking news.
“The Paramount brand is known and loved all around the world, and is synonymous with great entertainment. It’s always brought people together, which makes it a perfect fit for a streaming service that’s uniquely positioned to do the same,” Josh Line the chief brand officer of ViacomCBS said during a brand announcement in September. “The Paramount+ streaming service will elevate ViacomCBS’ iconic family of brands.”
State of the Streaming Wars
Paramount+ has already announced a slew of original projects including a revival of “iCarly” and a series about the making of “The Godfather” titled “The Offer.”
The service is entering an already crowded battlefield as the streaming wars wages on. It will have plenty of uphill battles to fight since brand recognition for Paramount is not nearly as strong as it is for studios like Disney or NBCUniversal. It will also have to compete with Netflix, which leads the pack in subscribers and unveils new content regularly; HBO Max, which will be home to Warner Media’s new theatrical releases; and Hulu, which hosts original content as well as shows currently airing on cable and network television.
ViacomCBS has not released information on pricing, but that will likely come during or before the February investor event.
Olivia Rodrigo Smashes Records with “drivers license”
- Olivia Rodrigo’s debut single “drivers license” has set multiple records on Spotify, becoming both the most streamed song in one day for non-holiday music and the most streamed song in a week.
- It also has become the most globally requested song on Alexa in one day on Amazon Music.
- After its Jan. 8 release, the song became a trending audio on TikTok. Since TikTok’s rise to popularity, the app has helped many songs reach viral success at lightning speed.
“driver’s license” Breaks Records
At just 17-year-old, Olivia Rodrigo is smashing records with her new single “drivers license” after debuting the tune on Jan. 8.
On Friday, Spotify announced the single set the record for most streams in a week. Prior to this, it set the record for most streams on the platform in one day for a non-holiday song.
As of Monday morning, the song has over 125 million plays on Spotify. According to Pop Crave, it was also the fastest song to reach 100 million streams on the popular music service.
Over on Amazon Music, “drivers license” became the most globally requested song on Alexa in a single day. It also became the biggest global streaming debut on the site.
Song Goes Viral on TikTok
Rodrigo is best known for her role as Nini on “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.” She has also appeared in a variety of other Disney projects where she showcased her singing and songwriting capabilities. In “drivers license,” she croons about using the newly minted independence her license affords her to mourn a recent breakup.
The pop ballad has become a popular audio on TikTok. Many use it for dances, to discuss the possibility that Rodrigo wrote it about her co-star Joshua Bassett, or to just wallow in its lyrics. It has been used by some of the app’s most popular creators, including Charli D’Amelio.
Its success on the platform has likely contributed to its success on streaming platforms and charts. The app has had an immeasurable impact on the music industry by helping songs and artists reach the mainstream at lightning speed. Hits like “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X first found a home on TikTok before breaking records on the billboard charts.
Rodrigo has been happy and surprised to see her song perform so well and be so positively received.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I expect this,” she wrote on Instagram after learning that “drivers license” was the number one song on global iTunes charts. “thank u guys so much for listening. I can’t believe this is real life.”