Peloton for cooking

MARKETS

  • Brexit: PM Boris Johnson stepped up to the foul line and went 1 for 1 on Brexit votes yesterday. Lawmakers voted for his Brexit plan, but against his proposed timeline. That means it probably won't happen before the Halloween deadline.

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MEDIA

Discovery Makes Streamed Dumplings

If you were to take a dozen hot business trends, mix in a dash of celebrity, and drizzle with smart home technology, you'd get Food Network Kitchen, a direct-to-consumer streaming service Discovery, Inc. launched in the U.S. yesterday.

But calling this a streaming service is like calling the iPhone a calculator. Food Network Kitchen offers subscribers a library of old cooking shows (like Barefoot Contessa), recipe guides/videos-and food delivery is on the way. But there's a star of the show...

The Peloton for cooking

Food Network Kitchen features live and on-demand cooking classes taught by celebrity chefs like Guy Fieri, Bobby Flay, and Martha Stewart. It's modeled after Peloton's popular spin classes, with one crucial difference: You can alert the instructor before you throw up.

  • Viewers will be able to comment on chefs' questionable uses of papaya through the show's interactive format.
  • The service will offer 25 live classes per week plus thousands of other instructional videos.

Big picture

Food Network Kitchen offers a window into how legacy cable companies are aiming to stay alive as Big Tech, Big Telecom, and Big Mouse invade the video streaming space. Here's Discovery's playbook...

  • Get niche: After launching this cooking vertical, Discovery also plans to establish streaming services for natural history programming and home improvement (the latter led by Chip and Joanna Gaines).
  • Diversify revenue: Food Network Kitchen will make money through advertising, subscriptions, and affiliate commerce. An ideal customer journey goes something like: "watch show → be intrigued by recipe → buy ingredients → become loyal paying subscriber."
  • Leverage technology: Discovery has inked a partnership with Amazon to integrate the service with Amazon's smart devices like the Alexa-enabled Echo and Echo Show.

Bottom line: Discovery remains an underdog in the streaming wars, but it thinks being your go-to sous chef is a good place to start.

PHARMA

Biogenerating Hope for Alzheimer's Patients

In 2019, we repurpose plastic, cans, clothes-and Alzheimer's drugs. Yesterday, Biogen shocked the medical community by announcing it's bringing back aducanumab, an Alzheimer's drug it shelved earlier this year.

The backstory: Current treatments for Alzheimer's, the most common cause of dementia, only ease symptoms temporarily. They don't slow memory loss or deterioration of thinking skills.

  • In one of Biogen's studies, patients given a high dose of aducanumab showed 23% less decline on one measure of cognitive ability compared with patients given a placebo.

The reversal: In March, a "futility analysis" deemed the drug a no-go. But Biogen looked at some new data with fresh eyes and determined it's ready for action.

  • This could be as big a medical game-changer as Alexander Fleming's moldy petri dishes. Alzheimer's affects about 5.7 million people in the U.S. and about 50 million globally.
  • The announcement was definitely a year-changer for Biogen shares. They erased a 25% year-to-date drop in just one day.

Looking ahead...Biogen said it will file for FDA approval in early 2020.

INTERNATIONAL

The Citizens Doth Protest Inequality, Corruption

People across the globe are pulling on their marching shoes. The protests' geographic coordinates are very different, but the complaints are not. Over the last several weeks...

  • In Lebanon, a tax on WhatsApp calls sent frustrations with the cost of living to a boiling point.
  • In Ecuador, the government had to walk back a fuel price hike to quell violent protests.
  • In Chile, a transit fare hike had a similar effect.
  • In Haiti, inflation and fuel shortages are driving up prices. Protests have been raging for weeks.
  • In the Spanish region of Catalonia, violent protests grounded in a decades-old separatist movement and resentment over taxation sprang up again after Catalan independence leaders were sentenced.

In Bolivia and the U.K., grievances are more political-they're focused on an allegedly stolen election and Brexit, respectively.

  • Plus, Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement is on month five.

Bottom line: Almost all of these demonstrations target a) economic inequality or b) government corruption. Residents of many countries feel the average citizen isn't getting a fair shot-and they blame those in control.

+ Chart for the road from the BBC...
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APPAREL

23 Years Is a Long Time to Hold a Plank

Kevin Plank founded Under Armour in his grandma's basement in '96, but yesterday, he said he'll be stepping down as CEO of the sportswear company. With $5.2 billion in 2018 sales, it's certainly come a long way from employees foregoing paychecks to buy ads on ESPN.

But the last few years have been hard
Stiff competition from Nike, Adidas, and Lululemon accompanied by losses and layoffs. Share prices since 2016 look like our jogging speed when we hit a hill...
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Under Armour's particularly struggled to grow in North America. Plank's acknowledged customers "have a hard time getting their arms around where Under Armour truly wants to be."

  • What's he got mind? "The human performance company...we want to stand for all things innovation." You know...like spacesuits.

Plank hasn't been perfect. There was the 2018 #MeToo reckoning. And his Port Covington development profited from tax cuts intended to help Baltimore's poor areas.

Looking ahead...Plank has until Jan. 1 to get COO Patrik Frisk ready for the big role.

APPAREL

Nike Couldn't Give Under Armour Just This One

Two coffee breaks after Plank's announcement, Nike said CEO Mark Parker is also stepping down come January. It's just a matter of time before the apparel execs become roomies in a Hilton Head condo.

Parker took over as boss from Nike founder Phil Knight in ʼ06. He'll remain executive chairman as John Donahoe, head of enterprise cloud company ServiceNow and former head of eBay, steps into the CEO and president roles.

  • Not sure we called this one. Last year, during a leadership shuffle that saw two of Parker's potential successors depart, the CEO said he was "committed to stay in my role...beyond 2020."
  • Nike's been on a tech buying spree for the last two years, and it's tapping Donahoe (a five-year board member) for his digital transformation expertise.

Parker's helmed Nike through bumpy times, including controversy around treatment of athletes who became pregnant, a doping scandal, and Colin Kaepernick ads. Still, Nike shares are up 29% this year and it's shrugged off the trade war.

WHAT ELSE IS BREWING

  • WeWork has reportedly agreed to be taken over by SoftBank. Ex-CEO Adam Neumann could get up to $1.7 billion in the deal.
  • Boeing's head of commercial airplanes is leaving. He's the highest-ranking exec to depart following two 737 Max crashes.
  • McDonald's whiffed on quarterly profit estimates for the first time in two years yesterday.
    Lyft expects to be profitable by the end of 2021, the company's co-founders said yesterday at the WSJ Tech Live conference.
  • Snap's earnings report was a mixed bag.
  • Mark Zuckerberg will defend Facebook's crypto project on Capitol Hill today. Meanwhile, Facebook pledged $1 billion for affordable housing.

BREAKROOM

For the Gram
To prepare you for World Series Game 2 tonight, take a look at these lines about baseball and see if you can spot the errors or mistakes (courtesy of the WSJ editors).

  1. The 1994 baseball strike came on the heals of back-to-back World Series titles for Toronto.
  2. Once a barren wasteland for baseball, players such as Bryce Harper and Kris Bryant have turned Las Vegas into an unexpected hotbed of premier baseball talent.
  3. Harper's batting average sunk to .249 for the Washington Nationals in 2018, while Machado struggled in the postseason and faced criticism after admitting that he doesn't always hustle.
  4. The 1970 Baltimore Orioles, the 1975 Cincinnati Reds, and the 1986 New York Mets all matched Boston's regular-season record of 108-54 before winning the World Series (though the latter had some help from Bill Buckner).

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Breakroom Answers


For the Gram
1. Assuming the baseball doesn't have medicinal properties we were unaware of, this should be "came on the heels of."
2. The way the sentence is currently structured, it says the players are a barren wasteland, not Las Vegas.
3. The past tense "sank" is preferred. "Sunk" is better reserved as "has sunk."
4. "Latter" means the second of two. When three factors are involved, like in this case, the third item is "the last."

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