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Meghan Markle Receives Backlash for Her Comments About the Importance of Voting in the 2020 Election

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  • Meghan Markle spoke at a virtual event for The United State of Women and When We All Vote to speak about the importance of voting in the 2020 election.
  • While she never mentioned any candidate by name or who she supported, she did reference high stakes and a need for change, prompting some to think she was implying she wanted Trump out of office.
  • It is against the rules for royals to speak publicly about their political opinions. Several people, including broadcaster Piers Morgan, called for Meghan’s title to be stripped.
  • On the other hand, many defended her, believing her statements were general and nonpartisan. Some also think that because she and Prince Harry have stepped aside from their roles, they should no longer be bound by those kinds of Royal Family rules.

Meghan Markle Speak About Voting

Over the weekend, Meghan Markle joined the growing voices encouraging people to vote in the 2020 Election. Her calls, however, were met with swift backlash online from those who thought she crossed a royal line. 

On Friday, the Duchess of Sussex spoke at a virtual event held by the United State of Women and When We All Vote to emphasize how important it is to participate in the upcoming election. 

“I think we’re only 75 days away from Election day. And that is so very close and yet there is so much work to be done in that amount of time because we all know what’s at stake this year,” she said. “I know it. I think all of you certainly know it. And if you’re here on this fun event with us then you are just as mobilized and energized to see the change that we all need and deserve.” 

While these remarks sound like standard fare in election dialogue, two key words stood out to a few people. While she never says who she is voting for or ever references any candidate by name, her reference to the “stakes” of the election as well as the call for a needed “change” led many to believe she was implying that she wanted President Donald Trump voted out of office. She would be far from the first celebrity to take such a stance, but sharing political opinions is a little more complicated when it comes to royals. 

Members of the Royal Family are not allowed to share political opinions. However, where Markle and Prince Harry fit into this rule is unclear. The two stepped away from their duties as senior members of the Royal Family earlier this year, meaning they no longer formally represent the Queen or receive money from the family’s Sovereign Grant.

Still, the two technically retained their titles, His Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex, and Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Sussex. Since they are not working members of the Royal Family, they cannot actively use their HRH title, the part that denotes them as His or Her Royal Highness, but they are still known and referred to as the Duke and Duchess. 

Outrage Aimed at Markle

Like most of the centuries-old rules and protocols of the Royal Family, this title jargon makes almost no sense and seems relatively pointless. However, these age-old rules are the bread and butter of the family, and most never dare an attempt to break them. Some think that since Markle and Prince Harry are still the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, they should still be bound by the guidelines banning them from political speech. Many, including television personality Piers Morgan and Conservative London Assembly member David Kurten, called for Markle’s title to be stripped. 

Radio host Dan Wootton called the incident a “massive diplomatic embarrassment for the Queen.”

Support Expressed for Markle

On the other side though, many don’t think Markle spoke out of turn. Some thought these rules should no longer apply to her, while others said she was simply encouraging people to vote, not speaking in a partisan manner.

“I understand the need to prevent leaders and notable figures seeking to swing another country’s election, that is fair and proper – but to call Markle’s remarks that is surely stretching the point,” Chris Stevenson wrote in a piece for The Independent.

“It’s not like Trump doesn’t offer his opinion on UK matters every time he is asked, normally in a much more straightforward manner than the Duchess of Sussex did,” he added. 

Kate Williams, a history professor who has written books about the Royal Family tweeted out a thread claiming that Markle’s comments were not partisan, and even if they were, she would have been “entirely within her rights.”

“Other royals have talked about elections, matters such as the environment, even written to ministers about policy,” Williams explained. “But #Meghan, who is a US citizen, telling people to take US elections seriously is some sort of terrible scandal.”

“Talking about ‘change’ is NOT partisan!!! Trump voters talk about change – ie more states for him,” she added. “She’d be entirely within her rights to say ‘Go Biden/Harris’. But instead  #Meghan simply talks about importance of voting and is being attacked. It’s madness. Racist  madness.”

History of Attacks in the Press

Unprompted attacks against Markle in the press have become as steady a British staple as bangers and mash or fish and chips. The Duchess has been superficially slammed for everything from shutting a car door to the way she holds her son. Those attacks have also gotten blatantly racist, with one headline claiming that her family went “from cotton slaves to royalty.”

Some believed the outrage hurled at her voting comments were part of this perpetual cycle of criticism, which one person called “disproportionate” and “worrying.” 

Others also wondered why Markle is often the subject of such visceral and constant fury, when Prince Andrew, who has been accused of sexual abuse by a woman who claims she was trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein when she was a teenager, does not face these regular attacks. Actress Jameela Jamil responded to a tweet calling Markle’s comments embarrassing by saying the family “may be more embarrassed” by Prince Andrew.  

See what others are saying: (Forbes) (Huffington Post) (Harpers Bazaar)

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Netflix Passes 200M Subscribers as Other Streamers Struggle With Retention

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  • 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)

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Paramount+ To Launch March 4

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  • 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.

See what others are saying: (Variety) (Deadline) (CNBC)

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Olivia Rodrigo Smashes Records with “drivers license”

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  • 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.”

See what others are saying: (Teen Vogue) (CBS News) (Billboard)

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