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Today in Awesome: Mr. Beast’s Subscriber Giveaway, Xbox Series S, and More

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Check out these awesome stories you might have missed over Labor Day weekend.


Mr. Beast Giving Away 1 Million Subscribers

For the first bit of awesome, YouTuber Mr. Beast ‘giving’ away 1 million subscribers to a smaller creator. He invited four small YouTubers o keep their hand on a box with his diamond play button inside, with the last one standing being declared the winner.

He then proceeded to torture the creators by adding other challenges to try and get someone to remove their hand. It took nearly 33 hours before a winner was announced. One creator failed on accident after swinging a bat at a car for a challenge, another left after a $10,000 bribe, and the second to last did a challenge to win $10,000… but then accidentally disqualified himself.

During the entire challenge, Mr. Beast censored any mention of the creators’ channels, until the final winner was announced. That winner, who has a channel called Zealous, went from just over 50,000 subscribers on Saturday, before the video was posted, to gaining 970,000 by the end of the day.

As of Tuesday morning, he currently is sitting at 1.76 million subscribers, meaning Mr. Beast’s fans kept his promise and subscribed en masse to Zealous.


Broxh Gets a Visit From Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

In other online awesome, arguably the most wholesome streamer on Twitch, Broxh, got a visit from New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Broxh is known as a shy woodcarver, specializing in whakairo, who blew up after clips of him refusing donations from viewers went viral. On Sunday, his fans were met with a big surprise when Prime Minister Ardern decided to visit him in the middle of a stream while visiting in the Maori city of Rotorua.

The heartwarming moment consisted of Arden just interacting with Twitch Chat while also talking to Broxh about his work. At one point, she joined Twitch Chat’s demand that he do a hair flip – something that he was extremely embarrassed to do.


Minecraft Fans Find Sought-After Map Seed

Mankind has done some amazing feats in its history. From exploring the entirety of the globe, going to the moon, managing to not destroy itself (yet) with nuclear weapons, the list goes on and on.

This weekend another accolade was added to that list by SalC1 and thousands of other Minecraft players: finding the lost seed of pack.png. Pack.png holds a nostalgic spot in players’ hearts as the default thumbnail to world servers, but the image is just 128×128 pixels and is so degraded that it was hard to tell what world it came from.

pack.png

In Minecraft, each world is generated according to a seed. There are trillions of possible seeds that dictate everything about a world, so SalC1 and other players were hoping to figure out exactly which seed this image came from to be able to visit it. It took months of calculations to render the image with enough detail to even start the project, then many more months to narrow down the list of possible seeds from over 2^48 possible seeds to one.

This weekend that feat was finally achieved, securing SalC1’s place among humanities greatest minds like DaVinci or Einstein. If you play Minecraft and want to check out the spot for yourself, here are the coordinates and the world seed.

Seed: 3257840388504953787
Coordinates: x=49, z=0

Jokes aside, this work did take months and involved thousands of players offering their GPUs to help crunch the trillions of possibilities. For Minecraft players, this is actually just the latest in a series of efforts to find where and in what world certain historical landscapes have been. Before pack.png was found, players also managed to find where the long-time main-menu screen for Minecraft was, allowing players to visit that as well.


Xbox Series… S?

The last bit of awesome comes from Microsoft. On Monday, there were a ton of leaks and rumors surrounding the new Xbox.

Initial reports indicated that Microsoft was not only planning on releasing the Xbox Series X by the end of the year but also a cheaper Series S. Microsoft decided the cat was out of the bag and officially announced the device, saying the rumors were true and it’d be cheap for a next-gen console.

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Next-Gen consoles are expected to be well over $500, but the Series S – which is a smaller version of the Series X that lacks an optical drive, is just going to be $299. After accounting for inflation, that means the Series S will be cheaper than what previous Xbox’s were on their debut.

For gamers, 2020 is shaping up to be a major year for gaming tech, with new video cards from Nvidia, possibly new ones from AMD, along with the new Xbox and PS5 releases.

Entertainment

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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