The 1992 Olympics in Barcelona had the Dream Team. The 2008 Olympics in Beijing had the Michael Phelps medal sweep. The Tokyo Olympics has a pandemic.
That has been the greatest challenge for NBCUniversal, the company that paid more than $1 billion to run 7,000 hours of games coverage across two broadcast networks, six cable channels and a fledgling streaming platform, Peacock.
The ratings have been a disappointment, averaging 16.8 million viewers a night through Tuesday, a steep drop from the 29 million who tuned in through the same day of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016. NBCUniversal has offered to make up for the smaller than expected television audience by offering free ads to some companies that bought commercial time during the games, according to four people with knowledge of the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss negotiations.
opening ceremony set a downbeat tone. Instead of the usual pageant of athletes smiling and waving to the crowd, there was a procession of participants walking through a mostly empty Tokyo Olympic Stadium, all wearing masks to protect themselves against the spread of Covid-19 as a new variant raged. The live morning broadcast and prime-time replay drew the lowest ratings for an opening ceremony in 33 years, with just under 17 million viewers. The high came Sunday, July 25, when a little more than 20 million people tuned in.
24 years as NBC’s prime-time Olympics host before leaving the network in 2017. “You can’t create something out of thin air. Everybody knows that this is, we hope, a one-of-a-kind Olympics.”
“It’s like if somebody is running the 100 meters and they have a weight around their ankles,” Mr. Costas continued. “That is not a fair judge of their speed.”
A widespread change in viewing habits, from traditional TV to streaming platforms, has been a big factor in the number of people watching. While NBC’s prime-time audience has shrunk considerably from what it was for the Rio games five years ago, the Olympics broadcasts are still bringing in significantly more viewers than even the most popular entertainment shows. The most recent episode of CBS’s “Big Brother,” a ratings leader, drew an audience of less than four million.
“We had a little bit of bad luck — there was a drumbeat of negativity,” said Jeff Shell, the chief executive of NBCUniversal, during a conference call last week, after NBC’s parent company, Comcast, reported its second-quarter earnings. The less-than-festive atmosphere, he added, “has resulted a little bit in linear ratings being probably less than we expected.”
a television critic for Vulture. “But more than anything, watching this year has shown the wounds that we’re dealing with.”
Ms. Chaney noted NBC’s interview with the American swimmer Caeleb Dressel right after he won gold in a glamour event, the men’s 100-meter freestyle. Moved to tears, Mr. Dressel said, “It was a really tough year. It was really hard.”
The 13-hour time-zone difference between Tokyo and the East Coast may have also figured in the drop in prime-time viewers. Many people in the United States have been waking up to phone alerts trumpeting the medal winners who will be featured in that night’s broadcast.
all-around win — seemed to gain traction not so much on TV but in snippets shared on social media. That trend has been apparent in the number of followers for NBCUniversal’s Olympics channel on TikTok, which have shot up 348 percent since the opening ceremony.
Those who decide to watch must choose from a jumble of channels and digital options. In addition to NBC, the coverage is spread across NBC Sports Network, CNBC, USA Network, the Olympic Channel, the Golf Channel, the Spanish-language channels Universo and Telemundo, not to mention NBCOlympics.com, the NBC Sports app and Peacock.
There are so many choices that NBC’s “Today” show brought in Steve Kornacki, the political correspondent best known for elucidating election results, to break it all down. “If you’re a badminton fan, you’re going to be looking for NBCSN,” he told viewers. “If you’re an archery fan, USA Network. There’s all sorts of different possibilities!”
Jim Bell, who stepped away from Tokyo planning in 2018 when the company placed him in charge of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” He left that program and NBC a year later.
Ms. Solomon said she has been waking up at 4:30 a.m. in Tokyo and relying on double-shot lattes to get her through workdays that may go till 11 p.m. She does not share the opinion of some critics of the coverage.
“Every day, new stars arise, and new stories come to the fore,” she said. “So, personally, I don’t want it to end.”
In the view of Mr. Costas, who guided viewers through NBC’s Olympics coverage from 1992 through 2016, any comparison of the Tokyo games with previous competitions is not fair, given the pall cast by the pandemic. And three years from now, if all goes according to plan, NBCUniversal will get what amounts to a do-over in Paris.
“Paris 2024 will be, we hope, fingers crossed, much more like a classic Olympics situation,” he said. “That will be a more legitimate test.”
Ms. Carreon-John noted that more than a third of the U.S. track and field women’s roster is made up of Nike athletes. “Individual situations of a handful of athletes are not representative of Nike’s support of women’s sport,” she said, adding, “No footwear, apparel or equipment manufacturer provides the level of support Nike provides to women’s sport, period.”
To be sure, Nike is a huge company and has supported a sprawling number of athletes for decades. “Nike has done a lot of great things, but sometimes when you’re the big brand, there are more opportunities to get things wrong at the end of the day,” said Merhawi Keflezighi, founder of HAWI Management, who represented Mr. Berian and manages Ms. Pappas. He commended the company for changing its policies for pregnant athletes and added that since 2016, the industry has become less aggressive about reduction clauses in contracts.
The new sponsorship opportunities are arising as the athletic apparel market continues to grow — a trend further fueled by the pandemic. Athleta and Lululemon were among the rare apparel brands that saw sales soar last year. In the running world, there were five to six brands that were more visible at the U.S. Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore., in June than in the past, Ms. Neuburger of Lululemon said.
“The athletic sportswear and athleisure market is transforming from growth to maturity with newer and rising entrants,” said Angeline Close Scheinbaum, associate professor of marketing at Clemson University. “So naturally, a shift in athlete endorsers from the market leader to other brands is occurring.”
Dr. Scheinbaum said that she viewed the trend as less of an exodus from established leaders and more about “athletes, especially women, joining a smaller brand that can become synonymous with these star athletes and their platforms and stories.”
Indeed, brands that are pursuing elite women athletes are keen to embrace their backgrounds and causes that matter to them. Ms. Cain said that the most famous women athletes have often become household names because they have an “and” tied to their performance — “athlete and activist” or “athlete and mental health advocate,” she said.
“Unless you have five different ways to sell yourself, you’re just not valued monetarily in the same way as the white dude next to you is,” she said. While that dynamic is unfair, she said, it has created a situation where women athletes often have bigger and more engaged followings online, and more brands are starting to take notice of that.
I read up on the basics, like the prohibitions on biting, head-butting and hair-pulling. Which makes for one advantage in doing a crash course on a sport like M.M.A. versus, say, cricket: There are fewer rules. Finally, I understood the origin of the phrase “no holds barred.”
The night before the fight, I texted my father-in-law, Gary, who lives in Pittsburgh and is a big U.F.C. fan, asking for tips.
“Don’t blink,” he said. “It’s fast paced and anything can happen in an instant, including lack of consciousness.”
I texted back a sweating emoji.
On Sunday morning in Taiwan, I woke up, showered and poured myself some coffee before settling on the couch with my laptop in front of the TV, ready to take in several hours of raw, unbridled combat.
Then the fights began. Watching the live action, I quickly realized that no amount of work beforehand could have prepared me for the gruesomeness of the sport. In the first bout, I saw one fighter, Jimmy Crute, go down in the opening round after Anthony Smith delivered a hard kick to the back of his knee. In the second fight, I watched Chris Weidman shatter his leg just by kicking Uriah Hall’s knee at the start of the bout.
Turns out my father-in-law was right.
There were also some uplifting moments. Like Hall’s gracious interview after Weidman was taken out of the octagon on a stretcher. And the Kyrgyzstani fighter Valentina Shevchenko’s endearing but lost-in-translation exchange with Joe Rogan, one of the announcers, about rising to the challenge.
And then there was Namajunas, who defied the bettors by knocking out Zhang with a powerful kick to the head in the first round. Tears streamed down the former champion’s face as the title belt was wrapped around her waist once again.
TOKYO — For Olympic host cities, one of the keys to a successful Games is the army of volunteers who cheerfully perform a range of duties, like fetching water, driving Olympic vehicles, interpreting for athletes or carrying medals to ceremonies.
If the rescheduled Tokyo Games go ahead as planned this summer, roughly 78,000 volunteers will have another responsibility: preventing the spread of the coronavirus, both among participants and themselves.
For protection, the volunteers are being offered little more than a couple of cloth masks, a bottle of sanitizer and mantras about social distancing. Unless they qualify for vaccination through Japan’s slow age-based rollout, they will not be inoculated against the coronavirus.
“I don’t know how we’re going to be able to do this,” said Akiko Kariya, 40, a paralegal in Tokyo who signed up to volunteer as an interpreter. The Olympic committee “hasn’t told us exactly what they will do to keep us safe.”
assure the globe that Tokyo can pull off the Games in the midst of a pandemic, the volunteers have been left largely on their own to figure out how to avoid infection.
Much of the planning for the postponed Olympics has a seat-of-the-pants quality. With less than three months to go before the opening ceremony, the organizers have yet to decide whether domestic spectators will be admitted, or hammer out details about who, besides the athletes, will be tested regularly.
Tens of thousands of participants will descend on Tokyo from more than 200 countries after nearly a year in which Japan’s borders have been largely closed to outsiders. The volunteers’ assignments will bring them into contact with many of the Olympic visitors, as they pass in and out of a “bubble” that will encompass the Olympic Village and other venues.
leaflet distributed to volunteers advises them to ask visitors to stand at least one meter — a little over three feet — apart. During shifts, they should disinfect their hands frequently. If offering assistance to someone, they should avoid directly facing the other person and never talk without a mask.
“Mask wearing and hand washing are very basic, but doing that to the max is the most important thing we can do,” said Natsuki Den, senior director of volunteer promotion for the Tokyo organizing committee.
“People often say, ‘That is so basic, is that all you can do?’” Ms. Den said. But if every volunteer implements these basic measures, she said, “it can really limit the risk. Beyond that, it is hard to think of any magic countermeasures, because they don’t really exist.”
Even as a majority of the Japanese public has remained opposed to hosting the Olympics this year, many volunteers say they are committed, at least in principle, to fostering international fellowship after more than a year of isolation. (The ranks of volunteers did take a sizable hit when about 1,000 volunteers quit after the first president of the Tokyo organizing committee, Toshiro Mori, made sexist comments.)
But volunteers worry about their own health as well as the safety of the athletes and other Olympic participants, especially as Tokyo experiences new spikes in virus cases. The capital is currently under a state of emergency.
“I am scared that I would get the virus and show no symptoms, and accidentally give it to the athletes,” said Yuto Hirano, 30, who works at a technology company in Tokyo and is assigned to help athletes backstage at the Paralympics events for boccia, a ball sport. “I want to protect myself so that I can protect them.”
postponed last year encouraged them to “address people with a smile.” In online sessions and other messaging since, Ms. Holthus said, “they still keep saying, ‘Oh, and your smile is going to be so important.’”
“We’re supposed to be wearing masks,” she said. “So I find that very insensitive.”
Not every volunteer has serious concerns about safety. Some said that they expected widespread compliance with the rules, given what’s on the line.
“I think athletes will do whatever it takes to participate in the Olympics,” said Philbert Ono, a travel writer, photographer and translator.
“If we tell them to wear a mask, they will wear a mask,” he said. “When they have meals, they will sit way far apart and separated and facing only one direction. So I think they are very disciplined and they know what is at stake.”
The N.F.L. on Tuesday sent a memo to all 32 teams effectively mandating that support personnel including coaches and trainers be vaccinated against Covid-19, with an exception made for staff who have “bona fide medical or religious ground” for not doing so.
According to the statement, the unvaccinated will not be allowed to work in proximity to players, who are strongly encouraged, but not yet required, to take the vaccine.
In the most direct address of vaccination protocols so far, the league said it expected employees classified as Tier 1 and Tier 2 — including coaches, trainers, front office personnel, videographers and others — to receive the vaccine. Those tiers were created last summer to stratify and limit access to team facilities as the N.F.L. prepared to open training camps in preparation for the 2020 season, and have been used continually since.
“N.F.L. team facilities proved to be among the safest places in the world in 2020 thanks to N.F.L.-N.F.L.P.A. comprehensive protocols that were developed in conjunction with public health officials,” an N.F.L. spokesman said in a statement emailed to The New York Times. “Having team personnel vaccinated will benefit these individuals and their families, will make the facilities even safer and also provide another step toward returning to normalcy.”
The league will require teams to report how many employees are vaccinated on a weekly basis and, based on those numbers, are expected to relax certain restrictions, such as locker room access, the use of cafeterias and close-contact quarantine, for vaccinated individuals. The memo also encouraged N.F.L. teams to host informational sessions on the vaccine with players, staff members and their families, and to use team stadiums and training facilities as vaccination sites.
The N.F.L.’s mandate follows similar messaging from the N.B.A. and M.L.B., to leagues currently in season, who have incentivized players and personnel with relaxed coronavirus restrictions once they are vaccinated.
Still, statements by companies about their social priorities deserve a healthy dose of skepticism.
Indeed, some of the same companies taking part in the stampede of statements critiquing voting laws, like Facebook, Google and AT&T, also recently donated money to the Republican State Leadership Committee, a group that supports many of the voting initiatives. Judd Legum, a journalist, pointed out this hypocrisy in his Popular Information newsletter, noting that Republicans have introduced bills to restrict voting in 47 states.
In the case of businesses like Coca-Cola and Delta, their more forceful, specific statements against the voting law in Georgia came only after the bill passed and 72 senior Black executives had spoken out, giving them cover.
And statements — even moving an All-Star Game — are not expensive. Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, made this point in a letter to M.L.B.’s commissioner, Rob Manfred, calling its move “an easy way to signal virtues without significant financial fallout.”
Mr. Rubio also told Mr. Manfred, “I am under no illusion you intend to resign as a member from Augusta National Golf Club,” which is in Georgia. “To do so would require a personal sacrifice, as opposed to the woke corporate virtue signaling of moving the All-Star Game from Atlanta.”
The decision to move the game will impact “countless small and minority-owned businesses in and around Atlanta,” Mr. Rubio wrote.
On that last point Mr. Rubio has an ally of sorts in Stacey Abrams, the Democratic organizer in Georgia, but not because they agree on the underlying issue. Ms. Abrams said: “I am disappointed that the M.L.B. is relocating the All-Star Game; however, I commend the players, owners and league commissioner for speaking out. I urge others in positions of leadership to do so as well.”
Still, statements by companies about their social priorities deserve a healthy dose of skepticism.
Indeed, some of the same companies taking part in the stampede of statements critiquing voting laws, like Facebook, Google, and AT&T, also recently donated money to the Republican State Leadership Committee, a group that supports many of the voting initiatives. Judd Legum, a journalist, pointed out this hypocrisy in his Popular Information newsletter, noting that Republican state lawmakers have introduced bills to restrict voting in 47 states.
In the case of businesses like Coca-Cola and Delta, their more forceful, specific statements against the voting law in Georgia came only after the bill passed and 72 senior Black executives had spoken out, giving them cover.
And statements — even moving an All-Star Game — are not expensive. Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, made this point in a letter to M.L.B.’s commissioner, Robert Manfred, calling its move “an easy way to signal virtues without significant financial fallout.”
Mr. Rubio also told Mr. Manfred, “I am under no illusion you intend to resign as a member from Augusta National Golf Club,” which is based in Georgia. “To do so would require a personal sacrifice, as opposed to the woke corporate virtue signaling of moving the All-Star Game from Atlanta.”
The decision to move the game will impact “countless small and minority owned businesses in and around Atlanta,” Mr. Rubio wrote.
On that last point Mr. Rubio has an ally of sorts in Stacey Abrams, the Democratic organizer in Georgia, but not because they agree on the underlying issue. Ms. Abrams said, “I am disappointed that the M.L.B. is relocating the All-Star game; however I commend the players, owners and League commissioner for speaking out. I urge others in positions of leadership to do so as well.”
Most adults who bet on sports do so without major negative consequences. But about 1 percent of American adults have a gambling disorder, in which the core symptom is continuing to gamble despite harmful consequences, said Dr. Fong, who is a director of the Gambling Studies Program at U.C.L.A.
A vast majority of those with a serious gambling problem never seek or gain access to treatment, he said.
Studies have shown that sports bettors are typically male, under 35, single, educated and employed or preparing for a career. According to a new survey commissioned by the National Council on Problem Gambling, sports bettors showed significantly higher levels of problematic gambling than other gamblers. The risk of addiction is higher for young adults — specifically sports bettors — than for those of any other age, the survey found.
According to CollegeGambling.org, a subgroup of the International Center for Responsible Gaming, 6 percent of college students in the United States have a serious gambling problem that can lead to psychological difficulties, unmanageable debt and failing grades.
Young adults are at particular risk for developing a gambling problem, especially if there is a family history of gambling or if they are introduced to it at a young age, Dr. Fong said. The increased accessibility of online gambling may accelerate the development of problems, he said — a phenomenon known as telescoping.
As sports betting has grown — household names like FanDuel and DraftKings now offer legal avenues — the need for recovery programs and dedicated treatment facilities has quickly outpaced their availability, recovery experts said. Rick Benson, the founder of the Algamus Gambling Recovery Center in Arizona, said the number of young adults who have sought treatment for gambling problems has more than doubled in the past two years.
Sex, drugs and alcohol are commonly covered in school and in the coming-of-age conversations that parents have with their children, but discussions about the consequences of gambling are rare, former gamblers and experts said. This can lead young people to underestimate the addictive nature of sports betting and other forms of gambling. Warnings, often in small fonts, that caution visitors to online sports books and gambling websites about the risks of addiction are easily overlooked.
Announcing phony news on April Fools’ Day is one of corporate America’s favorite occasions for shameless publicity stunts. But when stonks, Dogecoin and $69 million JPG files are real things that warrant serious business coverage, the risk of jokes being taken seriously could hardly be higher. Some say that’s a good reason to skip them, not to mention the gravity that a pandemic has cast over things.
With that in mind, can you spot the prank among these recent announcements? (Scroll to the bottom for the answer.)
A: To celebrate National Burrito Day today, Chipotle is giving away $100,000 worth of Bitcoin.
B: Volkwagen’s U.S. operation is changing its name to “Voltswagen” to emphasize the company’s push into electric vehicles.
C: Robinhood is nixing a confetti animation when app users make a stock trade to reduce “distraction.”
complaints about burnout.
HERE’S WHAT’S HAPPENING
Business groups challenge President Biden’s proposed corporate tax increases. The Business Roundtable and U.S. Chamber of Commerce were among those that praised Mr. Biden’s plan to spend trillions on infrastructure. But they rejected his idea to pay for it by raising taxes, saying that doing so would endanger the economic recovery.
delay future shipments of its vaccine after a mix-up at a manufacturing plant. A top E.U. official said the bloc would allow “zero” shipments of AstraZeneca’s vaccine to Britain until the drugmaker fulfilled its commitments to Brussels. And France announced a third nationwide lockdown as its cases mount and inoculation efforts lag.
A tough day for initial public offerings. As Deliveroo had “the worst I.P.O. in London’s history,” other offerings also struggled. In the U.S., the SoftBank-backed real estate brokerage Compass priced at the bottom of a reduced range, while the low-cost airline Frontier sold at the low end of expectations. And in Canada, the space tech company MDA priced below its range.
Microsoft wins a huge contract to make augmented-reality headsets for the U.S. Army. The tech giant will receive up to $22 billion for equipping soldiers with sensors based on its HoloLens technology. It’s another big defense contract for Microsoft, which beat out Amazon to provide a $10 billion cloud computing system for the Pentagon.
Executives get a ‘sense of urgency’ in Georgia
A day after 72 Black executives signed a letter calling on companies to fight restrictive voting bills more forcefully, executives have begun speaking out more directly about laws that limit ballot access. But their statements came too late to affect a sweeping law passed last week in Georgia that added new requirements for absentee voting, limits on drop boxes and other restrictions that have an outsize impact on Black voters.
Today in Business
Delta and Coca-Cola reversed course. Ed Bastian, Delta’s C.E.O., told employees, “I need to make it crystal clear that the final bill is unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values.” James Quincey, Coca-Cola’s C.E.O., said he wanted to be “crystal clear” that “the Coca-Cola Company does not support this legislation, as it makes it harder for people to vote, not easier.”
The statements by the Atlanta-based companies angered local politicians, including Gov. Brian Kemp. In the past, corporate stands on controversial issues have led to political retribution: In 2018, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle stripped a tax break proposal from a bill that would benefit Delta after the airline ended a promotional discount for N.R.A. members. The State House passed a similar measure yesterday, but the Senate didn’t take it up before the chambers adjourned for the year.
Retaliation also goes the other way: In an interview with ESPN, President Biden said he would “strongly support” moving Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game from Atlanta, scheduled for July.
“It is regrettable that the sense of urgency came after the legislation was passed and signed into law,” said Darren Walker, the Ford Foundation president, who is a board member at Pepsi, Ralph Lauren and Square.
said the company stood “ready to continue to help in ensuring every Georgia voter has the ability to vote.” A spokesperson for Home Depot reiterated the company’s stance that it believes “all elections should be accessible, fair and secure.” A spokesperson for Inspire Brands, the owner of Dunkin’ Donuts and Arby’s, said that it “values inclusivity” and believes that “every American should have equal access to their right to vote.”
“The argument is they are recruited, they’re used up and then they’re cast aside without even a college degree. So they say, how can this be defended in the name of amateurism?”
— Justice Samuel Alito, assessing the “stark picture” painted by college athletes in an antitrust case against the N.C.A.A. that the Supreme Court heard yesterday.
The Red Sox sold a stake to private equity. Now what?
RedBird Capital Partners confirmed its deal to buy a stake in Red Sox parent Fenway Sports Group, a transaction that values the company at $7.35 billion. DealBook spoke with RedBird’s founder, Gerry Cardinale, and Fenway’s chair, Tom Werner, about what happens next.
Buy and build. RedBird plans to acquire more teams: Mr. Cardinale noted that his company doesn’t own teams in the N.B.A., N.H.L. or M.L.S. For its part, Fenway plans to tap new opportunities in ticketing, sponsorship and media. (As part of the RedBird deal, the N.B.A. star LeBron James bought a stake in Fenway.) In media, Fenway controls NESN, and RedBird owns a stake in the YES network. “You should expect that we’re going to continue to look for ways to innovate in that area,” said Mr. Cardinale, who helped create the YES network.
Deepening ties with online gambling is also on the table. “We do have an excellent relationship with DraftKings,” Mr. Werner said, “and we’ve already had some conversations with them about partnerships.”
The deal was a better fit for the private market instead of a SPAC, the executives said, after talks to take Fenway public via a blank-check firm fell through. “In the middle of Covid, with the mandate to re-underwrite the next wave of growth for Fenway Sports Group, we probably would be better off doing that privately and then give ourselves the option down the road,” Mr. Cardinale said of going public. He also called the current SPAC market “very frothy.”
announced a deal last week to go public by merging with a blank-check firm that valued it at roughly $8 billion.) A new documentary, “WeWork: Or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn,” tries to find lessons among the ups and downs. It streams on Hulu, starting tomorrow.
Jed Rothstein, the director, told DealBook that he believes what’s most compelling about WeWork isn’t what went wrong, but how it initially succeeded by turning strangers into a kind of tribe. “We still need that,” he said.
“The core idea of WeWork met a real need for community,” Mr. Rothstein said. “The voids people were trying to fill have only become more real.” After a year of social distancing, he likes the notion of curated communal spaces, which is what WeWork offered. Talking to early WeWorkers who bought the vision and later felt betrayed, he was surprised to find how much the company gave its devotees, notably a feeling that they were part of something bigger. That is worth acknowledging in a world where people will increasingly work remotely and for many different companies in their careers, Mr. Rothstein said.
WeWork’s co-founders, Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey, both had communal childhood experiences. Mr. Rothstein said he thought they sincerely wanted to replicate the good in group life and inspired people who hadn’t seen that before. But Mr. Neumann also focused on what he didn’t like — sharing equally — and emphasized an “eat what you kill” mentality. Ultimately, his hunger turned the community dream into a nightmare for many.
After the director talked to people who followed the initial vision, his perspective changed. “People in the film experienced real growth and fulfillment mixed with their anger,” he said. “I realized the story is much more nuanced.”
THE SPEED READ
The media conglomerate Endeavor filed to go public for a second time, while raising $1.8 billion to buy full control of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. It also added Elon Musk to its board. (WSJ, CNBC)
Vice Media is reportedly in talks to go public by merging with a SPAC. And the S.E.C. issued two notices for companies looking to go public via SPAC. (The Information, S.E.C.)
Junior bankers aren’t the only ones feeling burned out. Young lawyers are, too. (Business Insider)
Politics and policy
New York became the 15th state to legalize recreational marijuana. (NYT)
Efforts by aides to Gov. Andrew Cuomo to hide New York State’s Covid-19 death toll coincided with his efforts to win a multimillion-dollar book deal. (NYT)
An accidental disclosure by the I.R.S. revealed a $1 billion tax dispute with Bristol Myers Squibb. (NYT)
Best of the rest
The ad agency Deutsch is doubling referral bonuses for Black job candidates. (Insider)
Amazon wants its employees mostly back in its offices, while the Carlyle Group and IBM favor hybrid working models. (Insider, Bloomberg)
Paul Simon is the latest musician to sell his entire back catalog: Sony Music Publishing will buy the collection, including classics like “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” for an undisclosed amount. (NYT)
Feeling burned-out? As more workers consider a return to the office, our colleague Sarah Lyall is writing about late-pandemic anxiety and exhaustion. Tell her about how you’re coping.
April Fools’ Day quiz answer: B. If you were fooled by Volkswagen’s prank, you’re in good company. Volkswagen reportedly told journalists that a draft of the announcement was not a stunt. It later called the stunt just “a bit of fun.”
The world that her father credits Ms. Coates with creating is reflected in a television ad for bet365 that ran before the Stoke-Watford game. It featured the actor turned pitchman Ray Winstone, who sat in the back of a luxury sedan, dressed in a dark suit, idling in traffic and exuding ease and control.
“At bet365 we’re always innovating and creating,” he said in a Cockney accent, staring at the camera. Cellphone in hand, apparently ready to place some wagers, he ticked through a list of those innovations, including something called “in-play betting.”
In-play betting allows customers to wager throughout a sporting event, on minutiae that has little bearing on the outcome. How many corner kicks will there be in the first half of a soccer game? How many players will be ejected? What will happen first during a 10-minute increment — a throw-in, a free kick, a goal kick, something else? When those minutes expire, the site takes wagers on the next 10.
“It’s very much like being in a casino,” said Jake Thomas, a former gambling industry executive who chaperoned a reporter, over the phone, through the website during the Stoke-Watford game. “Why wait 90 minutes to find out if your team is going to win? Why not get a little buzz betting on the next corner kick?”
As Mr. Thomas spoke, and the minutes ticked by, the odds of dozens of wagers were constantly repriced. A bet that Stoke would score in the first 30 minutes paid 9 to 1 at just over 25 minutes into the game. A moment later, as that outcome appeared fractionally less likely, the same bet paid 19 to 2.
The company has said it takes action on 100,000 events throughout the year, on sports and races around the world — greyhounds in New Zealand, women’s table tennis in Ukraine, golf in Dubai. There’s even a section on politics. (George Clooney is currently 100 to 1 to win the American presidency in 2024.)
If no live events appeal, virtual events beckon. These are video-generated simulations of tennis matches; games of football, soccer, basketball and cricket; and on and on. One afternoon, bicycle races in a virtual velodrome were running every three minutes, each lasting about a minute.