KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 14): Malaysia's total population rose 1.1% year-on-year (y-o-y) to 32.4 million in the second quarter of 2018 (2Q18) from 32 million a year earlier, according to the Department of Statistics Malaysia.
In a statement today, Chief Statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin said the population comprised 16.7 million males and 15.7 million females.
He said Selangor is the most populous state with 20% of the country's population (6.5 million) and Wilayah Persekutuan Putrajaya recorded the lowest population with 0.3% (90,400).
With more news this week of Walmart’s plans to launch its own subscription streaming service, the question is: Is it too little, too late?
On paper, the idea behind the service, which could be announced later this summer or in early fall, sounds reasonable: In a streaming world dominated by services like Netflix, HBO Now and GO, and Hulu, all of whose signature shows cater toward the liberal elite (this year Netflix signed a production deal with the Obamas), Walmart seeks to go after the folks in Middle America and serve them up shows like the (short-lived) Roseanne reboot and Fuller House.
Walmart certainly has cash to spend. The retail giant generated $123 billion in revenue in the first fiscal quarter and has $7.9 billion in cash in its coffers. Sources say it is willing to spend a few billion dollars to launch the new service–something that will surely be enticing to Hollywood. The entertainment industry is increasingly brand agnostic, ready and willing to play with whoever is wiling to write the biggest check.
As for consumers, Walmart has hinted that its service, which would include free and paid tiers, would be cheaper than its competitors, giving it another notch in its belt.
The only problem is that Fuller House is actually already a thing–and on Netflix. In other words, the great swath of Middle America that Walmart is so eager to tap into is arguably already being served. Perhaps not blatantly or exclusively, but, arguably, rather effectively. Indeed, although Netflix has built its reputation in the media on sophisticated dramas like The Crown and House of Cards, it actually has a decent load of what might be considered Red State content, including Ozark and the Ashton Kutcher comedy The Ranch. Not to mention a huge catalogue of network TV series.
[Photo: Fabio Bracht/Unsplash]The bigger challenge for Walmart, which is being advised on the project by former Epix CEO Mark Greenberg, is how to start from scratch, which is what the company will effectively be doing, when so many players are already so far ahead in streaming. Netflix has over 125 million subscribers and is pumping $8 billion into content this year; or four times what Walmart is reportedly thinking about spending. Amazon is now nipping at Hulu’s heels with over 100 million subscribers and is spending $5 billion on content. Hulu is about to be re-invigorated with more resources and strategic management by Disney, its majority-owner-to-be, once Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox is complete. HBO, meanwhile, has orders to beef up its pipeline from new-owner AT&T, which will be writing the company bigger checks than former owner Time Warner was. Disney, with the help of streaming teach giant BAMTech, is putting all of its corporate energy into launching a new family entertainment streaming service by the end of 2019. Wait, are we forgetting anyone? Oh yeah, just a couple of small fries: Apple and Facebook.
Beyond having to race to create a product and lure talent to create the kind of brand-making shows that have defined Netflix (Orange Is the New Black, Narcos), Amazon (Transparent), and Hulu (The Handmaid’s Tale), in order to succeed, Walmart would need to fill its library with licensed shows, which are what actually drive viewing. As the Los Angeles Times pointed out last week, 80% of TV streams on Netflix are licensed TV shows, and 42% of Netflix members watch little to none of the company’s original content. The data was based on a study conducted by the research firm 7Park Data.
Netflix is having trouble holding onto licensed content as the studios become more protective of their own IP; the biggest blow has come from Disney, which will stop selling shows and movies to Netflix once its current contract expires. For anyone who isn’t building its own streaming service, its content is increasingly already locked up with other players like Amazon and Hulu. Even if Walmart shells out better offers, the company would have to wait for deals to expire, which could take years (which is more like decades, in streaming terms).
Finally, Walmart’s track record in direct-to-consumer entertainment is weak, suggesting that perhaps the Walmart shopper thinks of it as a retailer and not a lifestyle brand. As far back as 2002, Walmart started testing a Netflix-style DVD-by-mail service. It sold that business to Netflix in 2005. In 2007, it tested a movie and TV show download service in partnership with Hewlett-Packard, but it never took off. In 2010, the company bought the video on-demand company Vudu, which allows users to buy and rent movies, but that, too, has failed to gain traction. According to comScore, Vudu, which is available on devices like Roku, attracted only 13% of U.S. streaming households in April, compared to Netflix’s 73%, YouTube’s 50%, Hulu’s 36% and Amazon’s 28%.
By copying some of those players and throwing money at its streaming efforts, Walmart can certainly get to the starting gate. But to become an effective player–and get people to pony up for yet another streaming app–the company will need to do more than simply make another version of Roseanne.
It will need to distinguish itself in both its product and portfolio in a way that feels novel and exciting. Walmart already has a well-established brand. To win in streaming, it will need to prove why that brand matters in entertainment.
Not even all the way through the primary season for the 2018 elections, it’s clear that socialism has caught a tailwind. In May, four candidates backed by the Democratic Socialists of America won elections in Pennsylvania. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez unseated a Democratic congressional leader in a race for the seat in New York’s 14th district on a platform of universal healthcare and free public college, and she will likely be joined in Congress by Rashida Tlaib, a democratic socialist candidate who won a crowded primary in Michigan’s 13th district, and will likely become the first Muslim woman to serve in Congress.
A new Gallup poll demonstrates that these candidates are part of a larger shifting of thought. Since 2010, the polling company has done a survey every two years’ of Americans’ attitudes toward socialism and capitalism, respectively, and split the results by party. On the right, views of both ideologies have held fairly since 2010. Around 72% of conservatives retain a positive view of capitalism, and just around 17% think well of socialism.
On the left is where things get more interesting. Socialism has climbed up the ranks of popularity since 2010, when 53% of liberals held a positive view of it. That proportion is now 57%. Their estimation of capitalism, however, has plummeted. In 2016, 56% of people on the left thought well of capitalism; now, just 47% do–the lowest the ideology has ever polled among liberals.
“Views of socialism among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are particularly important in the current political environment because many observers have claimed the Democratic Party is turning in more of a socialist direction,” Frank Newport wrote in a blog summarizing the findings on Gallup.com.
Of course, the last time Gallup took this poll, Barack Obama was still president. With his hotel empire, numerous side businesses, and history of shortchanging employees and contractors, current President Donald Trump perhaps encapsulates capitalism at its worst, and has likely helped shove it down the rankings as his approval rating has slunk down to the level of Richard Nixon’s shortly before he resigned in 1974.
But the shift from socialism to capitalism on the left–particularly among young people, whose positive view of capitalism has fallen to just 45% (from 68% in 2010)–is probably not explained by Trump alone. Since the 1970s, wages (adjusted for inflation) have barely risen, while cost of living has skyrocketed across the U.S. Meanwhile, the top 1% of earners in America–CEOs, high-powered corporate lawyers–has captured 85% of income growth that’s occurred since 2009. Jobs in hospitality and admin, which were once sources of stable if not extravagant income and benefits like healthcare, are shifting to contract-based models that often provide neither.
And when the ruling party of the country keeps saying widely popular ideas–like Obamacare–are socialist, people might be inclined to start thinking socialism is a smart idea.