Netflix is now worth more than $100B

Netflix crossed a fun milestone today, crossing the $100 billion mark for its market cap as it once again surprised industry observers with better-than-expected growth in its subscribers.

We’ll get to the financial numbers in a minute but, as usual, the big story here is that it continues to wow Wall Street with impressive growth in its subscriber numbers. The company said it added more than 8 million new subscribers total after already setting pretty robust targets for the fourth quarter this year, giving it a healthy push as it crossed the $100 billion mark after the report came out this afternoon.

Here’s the rundown:

Netflix’s biggest challenge has been to aggressively invest in good original content that’s going to bring in new subscribers. While its shows may clean up at various awards shows like the Emmys, it still has to show that it can convert those awards into raw subscribers. But thanks to what appears to be continuing success with its original content like Stranger Things, as well other returning seasons for shows like The Crown, it’s been able to continue its staggering run.

While the company’s core financials actually came in roughly in line with what Wall Street was looking for (which is still important), Netflix’s subscriber numbers are usually the best indicator for the core health of the company. That recurring revenue stream — and its growth — is critical as it continues to very aggressively spend on new content. The company said its free cash flow will be between negative $3 billion and negative $4 billion, compared to negative $2 billion this year.

And that aggressive spend only seems to get more aggressive every time we hear from the company. Netflix is now saying that it expects to spend between $7.5 billion and $8 billion on content in 2018 — which is around in line with what it said in October when it said it would spend between $7 billion and $8 billion. It’s the same range, but tuning up that bottom end is still an important indicator.

Netflix shows picked up 20 Emmy awards last year, but just having a shiny object on a shelf isn’t something that’s going to indicate that the company is going to continue to grow at a healthy clip. In the face of an increasingly crowded market, Netflix has to demonstrate its ability to continue to offer lasting value for subscribers — especially as it continues to grow abroad. The company, of course, has plenty of benefits in terms of how it handles its shows when it makes them itself.

The company also has to make sure its brand also fits that narrative, as it now finds itself dealing with issues like having to cancel House of Cards — and that has a monetary impact as well. Netflix said it took a $39 million “non-cash charge in Q4 for unreleased content we’ve decided not to move forward with.” The company didn’t specify what content, but it’s dealt with some issues in the past several months that might necessitate the need to recalibrate its slate.

Netflix also tucked another newsy bit into the report: the addition of new board member Rodolphe Belmer, former CEO of Canal+. As the company continues to expand internationally, bringing on people with experience like Belmer of course makes sense.

Here’s the final slash line for the company’s report today:

  • Revenue: $3.29 billion, compared to $3.28 billion estimates from Wall Street
  • Earnings: 41 cents per share, in line with estimates from Wall Street
  • Q4 US subscriber additions: 1.98 million
  • Q4 International subscriber additions: 6.36 million
  • Q1 forecast US additions: 1.45 million
  • Q1 forecast international additions: 4.90 million

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2018/01/22/netflix-is-now-worth-more-than-100b/

Somebody Please Explain the Morning-After Pill to Male TV Writers

One of lifes more enduring mysteries is how an astonishingly small percentage of television writers understand the female reproductive system.

Black Mirrors fourth season hit Netflix last week, entertaining audiences with mini-movie-length meditations on all of the ways the tech-driven future will kill our bodies and souls.

This season is special. All six episodes feature a female lead, since women seem to be a newly-discovered demographic in entertainment.

But despite the deliberate effort to produce a show that is less pale and less male than most, one episode in particular has some women and public-health advocates rankled. (If you care about spoilers, now would be a good time to stop reading.)

Episode 2, entitled Arkangel, features a mother named Marie, played by Rosemarie DeWitt, who has a chip installed in her young daughters head that allows her to track the little girls movements and vitals. Complications arise as Sara matures, and boil over when Sara becomes sexually active as a teenager. In the scene that serves as the linchpin to the episodes bloody climax, Marie discovers, through her app companion to her daughters tracking chip, that the girl is pregnant. She drives to a drug store in the middle of the night and obtains Emergency Contraception, which she grinds up and casually adds to her daughters smoothie the next morning. Sara becomes nauseous at school, and the nurse informs her that her illness is due to the emergency contraception she took to end her pregnancy.

Black Mirror is a fictional show set in an imagined future, but none of the details of Saras pregnancy or drugging make any biological sense.

Pregnancy doesn't happen right after you have sex, explains Elizabeth Clark, Planned Parenthood Federation of Americas Director of Health Media.

And emergency contraception doesnt cause a morning-after abortion. Sperm can actually live inside someone's body for up to six days after sex, waiting for an egg to show up to be fertilized, Clark adds. The morning-after pill works by temporarily stopping ovulation so the ovary doesn't release an egg.

Emergency contraception wont work if pregnancy has already occurred and cant interfere with a pregnancy that already exists.

Further, the drug is most effective the sooner it is taken after unprotected sex, thus its availability over the counter is helpful to women who dont want to waste precious hours for a doctors permission. It doesnt make any sense, even in the world of Black Mirror, for Marie to hold the pills overnight and casually drop them in her daughters smoothie the next morning; that diminishes the drugs effectiveness.

Does it matter if nobody in the team behind ArkangelBlack Mirror creator and writer Charlie Brooker, episode director Jodie Foster, star Rosemarie DeWitt, the rest of the cast and crew and production teamcould pass a detailed exam on how pregnancy works? Of course not. But whats unfortunate about this particular mass flub is that their misconception mirrors the misconception contraception opponents rely on to justify restricting womens access to reproductive options.

Contraception opponents like the Catholic Church, the March for Life, Susan B. Anthonys List (a group that aims to elect anti-abortion politicians, a sort of Bizarro World EMILYs List), and others use emergency contraception and the abortion pill interchangeably, and by design. Belief that life begins at the moment of conception and not the moment of implantation means that anything that might deliberately interfere with the implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus is the same thing as murder.

Conflation of emergency contraception and the abortion pilltwo very different medicationsreinforces that belief. Im not sure thats what director Jodie Foster would have intended.

Black Mirror is far from the first show to get it wrong. Back in 2011, The Walking Dead flubbed a morning-after pill plotline in a nearly identical way. When audiences pointed out the flaw, the shows creator Glenn Mazzara issued a flippant dismissal of their concerns.

We exercised our artistic creative license to explore a storyline with one of our characters, not to make any pro-life or pro-choice political statement, he said. We sincerely hope that people are not turning to the fictional world of 'The Walking Dead' for accurate medical information.

Seven years later, TV writers are making the same mistake, Donald Trump is president, and the Department of Health and Human Services is stacked with people who believe that myth. But sure, its just television.

Film and television have a unique opportunity to portray sexual and reproductive health care in medically accurate and nonjudgmental ways for millions of viewers, PPFAs Elizabeth Clark adds. With access to health care and sex education under constant attack, its more important than ever for us to see accurate storylines when it comes to contraception, abortion, and other sexual health issuesas well as a whole range of peoples authentic experiences.

Netflix and Black Mirror have not returned a request for comment.

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/somebody-please-explain-the-morning-after-pill-to-male-tv-writers

‘Grace and Frankie’ raises an interesting question: Where are all the sex toys for seniors?

The struggle is real.
Image: vicky leta/mashable

It isn’t every day you see a sex toy on a billboard, and it’s even more rare you’ll see one in the hands of a person in their seventies.

But thanks to Grace and Frankie, the Netflix sitcom starring Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, that’s exactly what people saw when the show’s third season premiered last year. The series, which centers around two friends who face many challenges while trying to create a vibrator for seniors, has brought to light an interesting real-life question: Where are all the sex toys for older people?

Last season followed the unlikely roommates as they conceptualized, prototyped, and focus-grouped the “Ménage à Moi.” It’s a vibrator made for and — perhaps more importantly — marketed to older women, particularly those who have a hard time using traditional models because of their arthritis. 

Their fictional creation has a soft grip gel sleeve, is lightweight, can be easily repositioned, and even features glow-in-the-dark control buttons. Sounds ideal — except no such thing exists in the real world. 

There’s no question about it, Grace and Frankie (which returns to Netflix for a fourth season on Jan. 19) is in uncharted sex-positive territory. While sex toys have made a fleeting appearance in other popular TV shows, basing a major series storyline around them is on another level. And having the sex toy be the brainchild of postmenopausal women who talk openly about their experiences developing and using it? Well, that’s pretty subversive. 

A missed opportunity

Senior sexuality is often used as an ageist punchline — even in some of the most “progressive” of shows. The most recent season of Broad City, for example, featured an older woman named Garol shopping for a comically large dildo. 

But beyond jokes, there’s a persistent lack of representation of older adults in sexual scenarios. It’s almost enough to make you think that older people have lost their interest in sex, which is a generalization that’s simply not true

​According to a 2017 survey conducted by the sex toy company TENGA, the​ average baby boomer reported masturbating an average of 3.3 times a week (compared to 6.3 for millennials and 4.6 times for Gen X-ers.) ​A​ 2010 study conducted by AARP found that 28 percent of older adults had sexual intercourse at least once a week, and 85 percent of these men and 61 percent of the women agreed sex is important to their overall quality of life.

“In our society and culture, we see sexuality displayed by a lot of very young people. But sexuality most certainly doesn’t turn off,”  said Lisa Lawless, a psychotherapist and owner of a boutique sex toy business and online resource center. “We have customers well into their eighties, and even their nineties.”

But often, she notes, they don’t know quite where to start.

This is why advocates of a less ageist, more sex-positive culture say they’re hopeful Grace and Frankie can serve as a pivotal moment for making senior sexuality a more mainstream topic. 

Grace and Frankie inspect their creation.

Image: Courtesy of netflix

Emily Ferry is the prop master on Grace and Frankie, and she scoured both the web and brick-and-mortar stores to find inspirations for the Ménage à Moi vibrator that would eventually appear on the show.

“There was nothing that I could find that was aimed at older women,” said Ferry, estimating that her team charged 40 vibrators to the production studio as part of their research. “There were some items that [would make] someone say, ‘This would be good for older women,’ but there was nothing that had been manufactured with the older woman in mind.”

A baby boomer herself, Ferry says that many women she’s spoken with in her peer group have expressed an interest in buying a real-life version of the product. “I want one of those, how do I get one of those?” they ask her.

It’s easy to understand why Ferry’s peers are having a hard time: There really aren’t many sex toys specifically marketed to older users. Until now, this is something that demographic has been forced to navigate for themselves.

Senior sex ed

Watching Joan Price give a webinar on sex toys for seniors, it’s easy to imagine that she was equally adept in two of her earlier careers: a high school English teacher and physical fitness instructor. She speaks breezily about the sex toys she recommends for seniors, talking for over an hour straight. It’s clear she’s perfectly comfortable holding a rabbit vibrator up to her face to demonstrate size. Her curly grey hair bobs as she earnestly impersonates different styles of buzzing vibration pattern. In one taped presentation, she wears a silver clitoris ring and t-shirt emblazoned with a Magic Wand design under the words “Knowledge is power” that she shows off proudly.

“Sex toys are a gift to seniors,” the 74-year-old award-winning author tells Mashable. 

“So many things change as we age, or our medical conditions can get in the way. There are so many things going on, but for every problem there is a solution.”

Joan Price teaching one of her webinars.

Image: Mashable 

Price has been blogging about sex from a senior’s perspective for the past 13 years. It’s a job she kind of fell into after meeting her “great love” Robert, an artist and teacher, at age 57. Their sexual relationship inspired her to publish her first book, “Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty.” Touring the country and checking her inbox, she found she was among the lucky ones. 

While she was having great partnered sex, many of her peers were not. She decided she was going to help. She has since written two more books about sexual pleasure for older adults and has reviewed over 100 sex toys from the senior perspective. She also travels to sex-positive feminist stores like the Pleasure Chest, Tool Shed, and Smitten Kitten to hold workshops and help educate retail staff on this topic.

The criteria Price uses to determine whether or not a sex toy might be especially appealing to those in her age group are wide-ranging. She asks herself: Does it give off vibrations strong enough for those who are finding they now need extra sensation? Is it ergonomic? Lightweight? Can it go for long periods of time without overheating or running out of charge, seeing as arousal now takes longer? Can the controls be easily identified without having to reach for reading glasses? If it’s insertable, will it be an appropriate size for those who are now more likely to experience vaginal soreness and decreased elasticity?

Lawless also acknowledges that the seniors who call her customer service line with trepidation about buying these products — often for the first time — have distinct preferences and inquiries. Take USB chargers, for instance, which can be confusing to those who are less tech-savvy. And if a USB charger seems intimidating, forget the whole new world of WiFi-enabled teledildonic toys.

Designing with older people in mind

Despite the specific needs of older adults, both Lawless and Price are hesitant to say a hypothetical sex toy specifically built for and marketed to older adults (like the Ménage à Moi) is wholly necessary. After all, they tell Mashable, there are already ergonomically-designed vibrators on the market that do meet many of the physical needs of, say, an arthritic older person. 

Are glow-in-the-dark control buttons really a make-or-break feature? What about instruction manuals printed in a larger font size? It’s hard to say for sure. But regardless, this Grace and Frankie plot point does reflect how older adults are notably underrepresented in the booming adult product market. Online, where most people shop for their pleasure products, it’s rare you’ll stumble across photos of older models or language in product descriptions that address their particular concerns.

The fictional Ménage à Moi vibrator.

Image: Courtesy of netflix

Among the companies that are consciously working to address and court this demographic is Tantus, which has been actively creating sex toys with disabled users in mind for years. There’s also the Fiera pre-intimacy vibrator for generating arousal, whose creators told Mic it’s made with seniors in mind. 

And then there’s Hot Octopuss’ “guybrator” products like the PULSE III, which does not require the penis to be erect for use. This can be of significant benefit to older people who may have issues with erectile function. In an email to Mashable, Hot Octopuss founder Adam Lewis said the technological basis for this product came from “a medical device that was used in hospitals to allow men with spinal cord injuries and severe erectile dysfunction to ejaculate.” 

“As a company we feel strongly that the industry needs to change its approach to aging and sex (and disability and sex, which is a different but associated debate),” he adds.

To reflect the fact that the products can address issues somewhat more common in older adults, the company consciously includes older stock models than you’d typically see on other sites and photos of people in wheelchairs.

But for the most part, this isn’t an area too many companies seem comfortable approaching just yet. For example, one sex toy designer did chuckle when I made the hypothetical suggestion of sex toys specifically made and marketed for older users. 

This mentality can be seen clearly when perusing online shops for products known to assist aging people and those with mobility issues, like sex furniture. You still only see young, able-bodied models. 

Lawless also thinks there are other products that may have been designed with older adults specifically in mind, but that don’t necessarily market to them specifically. These include electrostimulation vibrators, clitoral pumps and suctions (like the Womanizer), and hollow dildos — though she notes the latter product can be exceedingly large and not necessarily compatible with older vagina owners’ limitations. 

“Even though the marketing doesn’t show people with wrinkles — and yes I absolutely, earnestly, think it should — many retailers and manufacturers are very interested in the demographic,” Price tells Mashable. “Which, of course makes sense, business-wise. But it also makes sense because all of their young [customers], if they’re lucky, will get old.”

For all the “ick factor” she says she still sees when the topic of older adult sexuality comes up, Price notes that she’s begun to see a slow shift.

“We’re not done achieving what I want to achieve here, but at least I’m not seen as an oddity as an advocate for ageless sexuality,” she says. “I still get the ‘Come on, stop it,’ from some people. But I don’t stop.”

“We have the right to sexual pleasure lifelong,” she adds.

While it’ll certainly be interesting to see where the next season of Grace and Frankie takes the fictional sextech duo, many people are even more eager to see if the Ménage à Moi can become something more than “just seen on TV.”

Read more: http://mashable.com/2018/01/19/sex-toys-for-seniors-grace-and-frankie-sextech/