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Marketplace on RADIO IQ with BBC
Marketplace with host Kai Ryssdal produced and distributed by American Public Media focuses on the latest business news both nationally and internationally, the global economy, and wider events linked to the financial markets.
The only national daily business news program originating from the West Coast, Marketplace is noted for its timely, relevant and accessible coverage of business, economics and personal finance.
Monday, April 21, 2014 6:35am
A movie you may have never heard of has quietly made a fortune at the box office. The budget of the Christian indie film "God's Not Dead" was dirt cheap relative to other films atop the box office charts.
The production budget was less than $3 million, but faith-based movies have a way of making good money using unconventional marketing, all while flying far below the mainstream radar. The film itself is fairly conventional, structured a bit like a boxing movie, except the hero and villain are a Christian student and his skeptical philosophy professor. Rather than a ring, their climactic battle is a classroom debate over whether God exists.
Most critics, including some Christians, have been dismissive of the film. But that’s had little impact on its appeal. In part, that’s because the Christian filmmakers knew their audience and how to craft a story they would respond to. As if for good measure, they also threw in cameos from a popular Christian band and even members of the “Duck Dynasty” family.
The way films like this become hits is more about what happens off screen: the film’s low-key, but highly targeted marketing got pastors around the country to endorse the film. A thumbs up from the clergy meant their congregations bought advance tickets and filled buses to go see it, some traveling long distances.
“A lot of the success has been solely because of churches that have gotten behind this movie,” says David A. R. White, who produced and starred in the film. “In fact, we had almost a million dollars in presales before we even opened.”
That set up an opening weekend shocker. The tiny film grossed $9.2 million, showing up on box office charts just behind the lavishly promoted “Divergent” and “Muppets Most Wanted.”
One number in particular caught Hollywood’s eye. The movie was in a small amount of theaters. But it was raking in nearly $11,000 per screen, well ahead of expensive blockbusters. It also performed well in small markets. Theater owners took notice and the film has expanded to more theaters ever since stunning the movie industry on its opening weekend.
“’God’s Not Dead’ is one of the films that we will point to to say that this is a great genre, faith-based films are here to stay,” says Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at box office tracking firm Rentrak.
Drawing more Christians is one way Hollywood aims to get closer to its object of worship: money. The big-budget “Noah” got a mixed response. But “God’s Not Dead” has movie producers faithful and godless alike, taking notice and taking notes.
Monday, April 21, 2014 6:20am
Military commissaries, grocery stores that sell name-brand products to military families basically at cost, are facing a billion-dollar budget cut over the next three years. And defense officials are considering a sea change for commissaries: allowing them to stock generic.
That’s something Patt Donaldson would like, and steering two kids and two loaded carts, he and his wife Jessica Donaldson wrap up a big shopping trip.
She’s in the Navy and they live near the Fort Belvoir Commissary in Virginia. But they do these big runs off base – at ALDI, Costco, and Wegmans. They like the produce better, and all the store brands. Generic yogurt, canned fruit and pasta run down the belt to checkout.
“The generics we can get outside of the commissary is certainly far cheaper for us than what we can get buying name brands in the commissary,” says Patt Donaldson.
This is something military spouses often debate – where to get the best deals. Commissaries offer 30 percent savings on a typical basket of brand name goods, though some products see steeper discounts than others.
Currently, commissaries can’t sell generics. But now that the Pentagon has proposed a billion dollar commissary cut over three years, commissary prices are expected to rise. That has some officials wondering if stocking generics is a solution.
It’s an option Sgt. Maj. Of the Army Raymond Chandler described at a recent Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
“If I’m a young soldier and I choose to go to the commissary... the only thing I can buy is Green Giant or Hunt’s brands," he said. "But I can go to Walmart and get great value and that’s 30 cents less for a can of corn than it is in the commissary.”
So stock generics and everyone saves, right? Upsetting the commissary ecology has risks, says Tom Gordy, President of the Armed Forces Marketing Council, which represents military brokers who work with the name brands.
Say for example the Defense Commissary Agency went out and contracted for a store brand. Let’s call it Five Star Food. “That means the name brand products that are on the shelves will lose their shelf space, and they will also lose volume of sales,” he says.
Five Star Food would have costs, of course. To make it look as cheap as a generics in civilian groceries, Gordy says commissaries might have to mark up their remaining name brands even more.
“The manufacturers right now, most of them give best pricing to the Defense Commissary Agency,” he says.
They also provide marketing dollars. They even stock shelves. All, Gordy says, to support a military benefit. They might be less inclined to subsidize a military business.
Monday, April 21, 2014 6:17am
Wealth is the value of everything you own: stocks, bonds, your home, your car -- minus your debts. And while income inequality has taken center stage in debates about the growing gap between rich and poor, what's happening with wealth paints an even more staggering picture.
The wealth share of the 0.01 percent, or the top 16,000 families in America, has skyrocketed. That tiny group now owns 12 percent of the wealth in America.
The wealth of the larger one percent -- and even the .5 percent -- isn't rising.
These days, if you want to be among the biggest winners, says UC Berkeley researcher Gabriel Zucman, who co-wrote a new report on wealth, it helps to be in the 0.1 percent or better.
Around 50 percent of the US population, Zucman said, has zero net wealth. Their debts, effectively, equal their assets.
Monday, April 21, 2014 5:44am
Two things Netflix-related happened last week. One, Netflix released a trailer for the new season of Orange is the New Black. Two, we got more evidence that Netflix is the new cable.
“People who use Netflix or Hulu are actually almost three times more likely to be in that cord cutter segment,” says John Fetto, senior analyst at Experian Marketing Services. Its data in a new report show nearly 1 in 5 homes with a Netflix or Hulu subscription has no cable.
Until now, he says, those cord cutters were more hype than reality. “We had never actually seen a real uptick in our data. It was always within the margin of error,” Fetto says.
But now, he says about six and a half percent of households have only internet service—that’s two and a half million more than in 2010. Not everyone is swayed, though. Live TV still has its perks.
“Consumers want local news. They want live sports,” says Brett Sappington, director of research at Parks Associates. He says some TV viewers are downgrading instead of cutting their cable when they sign up for Netflix.
And, of course, Netflix wins either way.
Monday, April 21, 2014 5:33am
As Americans buy more mobile devices, the airwaves become even more crowded with signals trying to reach their destination as fast as possible. Those airwaves carrying transmissions back and forth are referred to as "spectrum," and mobile providers like AT&T and Verizon can't get enough of them.
That's why the FCC is planning on purchasing spectrum from TV broadcasters and selling it to mobile broadband providers. It sounds like an easy solution to a big problem.
As chairman of the Federal Communications Commission Tom Wheeler said when he appeared on Marketplace Tech back in November:
"That, hopefully, will be a marketplace means of determining what the highest and best use of the spectrum is, and then we will take that spectrum -- which we have bought back -- and resell it to the wireless carriers to be able to meet the climbing demand for wireless services."
However, David Fung, a technology reporter for the Washington Post, says it's not that simple. According to Fung:
"There are two big wireless companies: Verizon and AT&T, and they want to buy up as much spectrum as they can get. On the other side you have smaller companies like Sprint and T-Mobile who say that they’re going to be shut out of the bidding opportunities if AT&T and verizon are allowed to buy up as much as they want."
Even more troubling is the possibility that companies like AT&T and Verizon could buy up a bunch of spectrum, and then simply not use it -- instead opting to hold onto it so that other companies don't have access to more spectrum.
Still, that won't stop the larger companies from participating. AT&T has threatened to pull out of the auction if it doesn't get its way, and that would be bad news for the Government. The FCC needs larger companies to participate in order to make the auction profitable.
June 19, 2013