One of the biggest battles in college sports has been playing out off the field. Namely, the fight by former college athletes to get a share of the royalties from video games that use their likenesses. Now victory for them may be in sight. Electronic Arts said yesterday it would stop making its popular college football video game, at least for now. That was followed by news of a proposed $40 million settlement between former football players, Electronic Arts and the Collegiate Licensing Company.
One of the plaintiffs in the case is Sam Keller, a former quarterback for Arizona State and the University of Nebraska.
“EA Sports was using his likeness, down to what shoes he wore, what color his hair was, etc., so that people playing the game could see it was Sam Keller,” says his attorney Steve Berman. “Every state has a statute that says you cannot exploit a person’s likenesses for commercial purposes, and Mr. Keller thought he was being exploited.”
The terms of the settlement are still confidential and they have to be approved by a federal judge, says Berman.
“But the net effect is that college athletes will get compensated for their image and likeness and that, itself, is a landmark event,” says Michael McCann, director of the Sports and Entertainment Law Institute at the University of New Hampshire.
There is an important wrinkle, McCann says. The NCAA is still fighting the case, and its rules say college athletes can’t be paid for playing sports. McCann says current players may have to wait to cash in.
As for Electronic Arts, dumping its college football game won’t be a huge loss, says analyst Ben Schachter with Macquarie Group. “What you’re seeing in the entire video game industry is this shift towards fewer, bigger, better.”
In that landscape, EA can focus on its blockbuster Madden NFL franchise. The pro game outsells the college football game three to one, says Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia.
And there are no pesky amateur rules to deal with.
Today’s big report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says it is “extremely likely” that people are responsible for global warming.
That’s up from “very likely” in the panel's 2007 report.
For most of us, the difference between saying something is “extremely likely” and “very likely” is pretty negligible. But for the IPCC scientists, the difference is five percentage points.
“Extremely likely” means that scientists think there’s a 95 percent chance global warming is caused by human activity. “Very likely” indicates a 90 percent chance.
The IPCC has an entire likelihood scale, associating probabilities with words.Likelihood Scale Virtually certain 99-100% probability Very likely 90-100% probability Likely 66-100% probability About as likely as not 33-66% probability Unlikely 0-33% probability Very unlikely 0-10% probability Exceptionally unlikely 0-1% probability “If you ask people what you think a term like" likely," or "very likely," or "extremely likely" means, without any kind of a definition, you get very different answers for what they think those mean in terms of probabilities,” says Michael Mastrandrea, an environment professor at Stanford University, who helped develop the scale.
The scale gives everyone a consistent language. The panel also has set tiers of confidence -- from very low to very high.
And, yes, says Mastrandrea, scientists make jokes with their certainty scales.
Hill: Do you guys just at some point start making jokes about: it’s extremely likely I’m going to order steak for dinner?
Mastrandea: I think we do that all too often, unfortunately. But I have pretty high confidence, I should say I have high confidence, that they are not very good jokes.
There are important reasons for scientists to have a structured language of certainty and uncertainty. “In climate science we have to be very honest about what we know, and what we don’t know,” says UCLA climate researcher and IPCC contributor Alex Hall, “and this uncertainty language is a way to talk about that.”
All science has uncertainty.
And, while human responsibility for global warming is now “extremely likely,” there’s less certainty about the speed and effects of climate change. “The true state of knowledge is shades of gray, not black and white,” says Hall.
This likelihood language helps scientists communicate those shades to the public. And makes clear that now is the time to do something about it.
The Carlyle Group, a private-equity firm with $180 billion under management, is investing in Beats by Dr. Dre. That’s the popular brand of headphones and other audio gear founded by hip-hop artist and producer Andre Young, a.k.a. Dr. Dre, and music mogul Jimmy Iovine.
Carlyle’s investment is reportedly worth $500 million, though neither company would confirm that figure or comment for this story. Carlyle’s involvement follows the exit of Taiwan-based smartphone-maker HTC Corp., which sold its $265 million stake in the company back to the founders last Friday.
Carlyle has previously taken on consumer brands such Dunkin’ Brands and AMC Entertainment. Carlyle managing director Sandra Horbach said in a statement that: “We are confident that Beats will continue to drive innovation and growth in the premium audio accessory market, particularly as the proliferation of smart phones and tablets stimulate increased consumption of digital media.”
Most consumers of digital media, especially music, listen on middling-quality car speakers, earbuds or headphones that cost under $100.
But Frank Wells, president of the Audio Engineering Society and editor of Pro Sound News, says that’s probably not what music fans want for listening to the latest club sound, such as hip hop or electronic dance music.
“The Beats headphones are designed to give somewhat of that visceral bass-thump experience that moves your body,” says Wells, “the physical feeling of it rattling your head.”
Beats already controls more than half the premium headphone market in the U.S., according to Ben Arnold, director of industry analysis and consumer technology at the NPD Group. Beats range in cost from $100 to $400.
Arnold says increasingly, the big growth potential for the company isn’t head-rattling club-goers.
“Now consumers are watching movies on HBO Go and Netflix,” says Arnold. “People are playing so many games on their mobile devices. We see that growth really propelling the headphone market.”
Arnold says people spend so much time consuming media this way, they increasingly demand a high-fidelity listening experience.
He says Beats is also poised to expand into audio accessories that don’t sit on our heads. The company’s sales are growing in portable speakers, licensed automobile-audio systems, and audio software, both in the U.S. and abroad.
There are plenty of skeptics of the headphones’ quality, and price point. San Diego smartphone developer Jesse Ridgway, 24, tried his roommate’s Beats headphones back in college. He says he could certainly afford a pair himself, “but I just don’t think it’s the best use of money, because the sound quality of most audio is not good enough to the point where you’ll notice the difference.” He compares buying a pair of $200 or $300 headphones to “buying a big plasma-screen HDTV to play your VHS tapes.”
To counteract that frugalista attitude, Beats is betting on the cachet of Dr. Dre and his music career. It worked for consumer Nathan Gallaway. He’s 26, works for a wireless carrier in Chicago and has just started an independent film company.
“It actually is a great deal of money,” Gallaway admits, adding that “luckily my mother isn’t still looking over my purchases.” But he also thinks it's worth it. He relishes listening to his favorite music, Motown and rock and roll, on his Beats headphones, and says they reveal more layers of music than cheaper headphone brands he’s tried. He adds that he used to lose or damage his headphones frequently, but now that he has expensive ones, he takes better care of them.
Finally, he says, while Dr. Dre’s celebrity didn’t attract him, the fashion statement he could make with the headphones did. “Not only did I like the sound quality, the colors drew me in as well. I wanted something to personalize my style.” He chose dark blue. “That really matched me,” he says.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, just released its new report on global warming. It reinforces the conclusion that global warming is predominantly caused by human activity and sets an upper limit for the carbon emissions the world's economies can create.
Back in 2010, Coca-Cola made a big commitment – the brand promised to be water neutral by 2020. Coca-Cola’s Chief Executive Officer and chairman, Muhtar Kent, joined Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio to discuss the endeavor and its implications, as well as Coca-Cola’s role in global society. The goal: create 500 million liters within the first two years.
Also Friday, there's word from the Kenyan Red Cross that 59 people remain missing. Terrorists killed at least 61 civilians and 6 security officers during the attack on a mall in Nairobi and a four-day siege that followed.
A new study reports that female donors accounted for more than 44 percent of President Obama's campaign contributions, the most for any White House hopeful since at least 1988.
A new study reports that women donors accounted for more than 44 percent of President Obama's campaign contributions, the most for any White House hopeful since at least 1988.
From the government shutdown to Kanye West and Jimmy Kimmel's showdown, the Barbershop guys weigh in on the week's hot topics.
Washington could be headed for another government shutdown. Guest host Celeste Headlee asks NPR's senior political editor Ron Elving whether there are any lessons to be learned from previous shutdowns.