What in the World—Week of November 6

TNT signs deal for immersive NHL and NBA viewing

For the past few weeks, social media feeds have been peppered with videos from Las Vegas’ ground-breaking concert and event venue, The Sphere. Now, immersive technology company Cosm is building two 800-seat locations that it says will replicate that viewing experience for live sports.

Each location, one in L.A. (slated for the spring) and another in Dallas (later in 2024), will feature domes with 360-degree, 87-foot 8K LED screens, and Cosm has already completed a deal with Warner Bros. Discovery to show NBA and NHL games.

While the experience won’t be a 3D broadcast, Cosm said the effect of the dome viewing will make it feel as if the viewers are in the front row at the actual games. “We buy into that same kind of notion of leveraging amazing technology to give the human experience something they’ve never seen before,” CEO Jeb Terry told CNBC. “With the Sphere, it’s big, huge, grand scale. Ours is more of a smaller format and really focused on live sports and live programming—like you’re absolutely there.”

DoorDash tries threatening non-tippers

Food delivery app DoorDash has been running a pilot program that sees customers threatened with the possibility of a longer wait for their food if they don’t tip when placing an order. Users in select markets across Canada and the US that choose not to tip first have been getting a message that reads: “Orders with no tip might take longer to get delivered—are you sure you want to continue?”

DoorDash says it’s testing the new policy because its drivers are “independent contractors” who can accept or reject offers as they choose. “[O]ffers that don’t include a tip can be seen as less desirable,” said a spokesperson. “This impacts our entire community, leading to longer wait times for customers, orders sitting longer at merchants, and less value for Dashers.”

However, in a statement about the new pilot program, the company also said the test “does not impact DoorDash’s commitment to quality or how orders are fulfilled. Our goal is to deliver the best possible experience—regardless of the amount a consumer tips—on each and every order.”

According to The Washington Post, reaction to the program has been mixed, with some people believing that tipping is expected, and others balking at the idea of tipping before getting their food. “The entitlement of DoorDash drivers has reached its pinnacle,” said one critic on Twitter.

HBO’s CEO admits to X trolling critics

HBO’s chief executive Casey Bloys encouraged the creation of a fake Twitter account to troll critics who gave harsh reviews to its shows. As first reported by Rolling Stone, Bloys and SVP of drama programming Kathleen McCaffrey discussed using a “secret handle” to respond to critics.

According to Salon, after negative reviews of Joss Whedon’s steampunk-fantasy The Nevers, the Twitter (now X) account of “vegan Texas mom” Kelly Shepard went after The New York Times’ chief TV critic James Poniewozik and Times TV critic Mike Hale. “How shocking that two middle aged white men (you & Hale) are sh**ting on a show about women . . .,” said the account.

At an HBO and HBO Max promotional event last week, Bloys apologized for the covert social media attacks. “It’s very important to me what you all think of the shows,” he said. “So when you think of that mindset, and then think of 2020 and 2021, I’m home, working from home and spending an unhealthy amount of scrolling through Twitter. And I come up with a very, very dumb idea to vent my frustration.”

Netflix adding new ad options

One year after introducing advertising to its platform, Netflix is introducing a new reward for the 15 million users who signed up for the ad-supported tier, in the hopes of encouraging longer binge-watching. Starting early next year, after watching three consecutive episodes, viewers will get a fourth episode ad-free. in the hopes of encouraging longer binge-watching.

However, the move is part of Netflix’s concerted efforts to attract new spend from advertisers and their agencies. The ad-free episodes will be sponsored, the streamer plans to give advertisers the ability to include QR codes in early 2024, and will offer sponsorships that “can be tied to a specific title, a thematic moment or a live stream,” reports Variety.

Frito-Lay’s Smartfood popcorn brand sponsored the most recent season of Love is Blind, for example. “We want to shape the future of advertising on Netflix and help marketers tap into the amazing fandom generated by our must-watch shows and movies,” said Amy Reinhard, president of advertising at Netflix, in a statement.

YouTube gets tough on ad blockers

Meanwhile, YouTube has launched a new global campaign to get users to stop using ad blockers. The campaign is multi-faceted, reports The Verge, with some users getting a message that says “video playback is blocked unless YouTube is allowlisted or the ad blocker is disabled.”

YouTube started disabling videos for users with ad blockers in June, but has expanded the tactic considerably in recent weeks. While some media experts believe it’s part of YouTube’s strategy to encourage users to pay for the ad-free premium offering, YouTube stressed that ad blockers violate the platform’s terms of service. “Ads support a diverse ecosystem of creators globally and allow billions to access their favourite content on YouTube,” communications manager Christopher Lawton told The Verge.

The tactic appears to be working, with AdGuard telling Wired that more than 11,000 people per day have uninstalled its Chrome extension ad blocker since YouTube started the crackdown, compared to 6,000 uninstalls per day before.

David Brown