Archive for the ‘3D’ Category

Blu-ray: The State of Play – 2016

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

Welcome to another edition of our annual Blu-ray sales analysis, where we look at how Blu-ray has performed over the last year.

The data used in this analysis derives from our weekly updates, based on figures released by Home Media Magazine. Some of the historical figures you’ll see have also been adjusted, due to slight tweaking of the metrics used by HMM to create these sets of data, although the changes have been very subtle and does not change the bigger picture in any way.

Last year, we concluded that “peak Blu-ray” had been reached in 2013, and that the format’s fortunes were on the decline ever since. 2016 is a particular interesting year to examine because of the introduction of a new Blu-ray format – Ultra HD Blu-ray.

Can these new fancy 4K discs reverse Blu-ray’s fortunes? Read on to find out!

Blu-ray Market Share

As has been the case with all of our “Blu-ray: The State of Play” reports in the past, we start with the ever wider Blu-ray Market Share graph. Blu-ray market share represents weekly Blu-ray sales as a percentage of total packaged disc sales. So a Blu-ray market share of 45% means that 45% of all disc packages sold in that week contained a Blu-ray disc (inversely, this also means that 55% of disc packages sold only contained the DVD version of the content). With the way sales figures are reported, any edition that includes a Blu-ray version of the film is counted as a Blu-ray package (even if the package also contains a DVD version of the film). Ultra HD Blu-ray sales are also counted in the Blu-ray column. In the graph below, we also point out some of the more obvious milestone releases. 2016’s major releases, at least those that had a significant impact on Blu-ray market share for the week that they were released, were Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, DeadpoolZootopia, Batman v Superman: Dawn of JusticeCaptain America: Civil WarStar Trek: BeyondFinding Dory, and Suicide Squad.

 

Blu-ray Market Share – 2008 to 2016 – Click to see larger version

Blu-ray Market Share – 2008 to 2016 – Click to see larger version

Note that because Blu-ray market share is proportional to DVD market share, any drop in DVD sales will also result in a higher Blu-ray market share, even if Blu-ray sales are steady. With DVD on a steady decline, Blu-ray market share will continue to rise as long as it’s own sales decline is slower than that of DVD’s.

Below is the same data condensed and with a trend line added. You might notice a huge peak in the graph during the earlier part of 2016 – this can be explained simply by the fact that Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released that week. I mentioned in last year’s report that the new Star Wars movie could break market share records, and it indeed did, by a considerable margin as you can see from the graph below.

Blu-ray Market Share – 2008 to 2016

Blu-ray Market Share – 2008 to 2016

Blu-ray Revenue

For actual revenue, unfortunately, no records were broken as you can see from the graph below. Apart from the smaller peak for The Force Awakens, the other peak, the one that you see almost every year at the same time, is for the important Black Friday/Cyber Monday week, and the pre-Christmas sales period. 2016’s peaks are somewhat higher than 2015’s, but the record remains with 2013 (and may always be the case). 2013 being the peak Blu-ray year, at least when it comes to revenue, remains a likely fact for the foreseeable future – it’s not so much that disc sales were so much higher, but that discs costs less per unit than they did in 2013 – so more sales could still mean less revenue, overall, which seems to be the case.

Blu-ray Revenue Growth – 2010 to 2016

Blu-ray Revenue Growth – 2010 to 2016

2015 vs 2016 Comparison

So let’s take a closer look at how 2016 did compared to 2015, starting with Blu-ray market share as shown in the graph below. Unlike in 2015, the big releases came mostly in the first half of the year, as you can see from the series of peaks early on (with ‘The Force Awaken’ being the biggest peak, followed by ‘Deadpool’, ‘Zootopia’, and ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’).

Blu-ray Sales Market Share: 2014 vs 2015 Comparison

Blu-ray Sales Market Share: 2015 vs 2016 Comparison

Revenue wise, the differences between 2015 and 2016 were less visible. The start of the year wasn’t particularly impressive, but things start to pick up around March, and then after the big releases start to come in. Overall, 2016 looks to be a better year than 2015.

Blu-ray Sales Revenue: 2015 vs 2016 Comparison

Blu-ray Sales Revenue: 2015 vs 2016 Comparison

We can get a clearer picture by looking at the raw numbers. Out of the 53 reporting weeks in 2016, 29 of them was better than the same week in 2015, with 24 being worse. This compares well to 2015, when 31 of them had a weekly revenue worse than the same week in 2014. The quality of releases may be the bigger driving factor, but it’s hard to ignore the effect of the Ultra HD Blu-ray format, first introduced in early March. If we look at the time period before the introduction of Ultra HD Blu-ray, 6 out of the 11 weeks (55%) were worse than the same weeks in 2015. After, only 19 out of 43 were worse off (44%). If you need further evidence that suggests Ultra HD is having a role in Blu-ray sales, then all you need to do is to follow our weekly sales reports, where you’ll find almost all new major releases now come with Ultra HD editions, some of these editions sell quite well. It’s not only replacing 3D sales, which have severely declined due to lack of consumer interest and the lack of new 3D releases, it also seems to be doing much better than 3D at the same stage of its development (and much better than the original Blu-ray format, during the same period).

But again, just the fact that The Force Awakens was released a couple of weeks after Ultra HD’s launch and continued to chart for most of 2016 could have been enough to help make things better for Blu-ray in 2016. The other major releases, in particular new properties ‘Deadpool’ and ‘Zootopia’, may also have contributed to the better results in 2016.

Whether it’s the Force, or the 4K, either or both helped Blu-ray revenue reverse course for the year and post the first year on year increase since 2014. Total Blu-ray revenue for 2015 was $2.07 billion, compared to $2.095 billion in 2016, a growth of 1.22%.

Conclusion

To sum up:

  • Blu-ray market share grew, but it may largely be due to the decline in DVD than any rise in Blu-ray sales
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens was the title to beat in 2016 (and possibly the best selling Blu-ray ever)
  • Blu-ray revenue reverses declines from previous two years and posts a small gain, possibly due to the better caliber of releases in 2016 as well as the introduction of Ultra HD Blu-ray.

These results still seem to confirm that 2013 was the peak for Blu-ray sales, but there seems to be a “Rey” of hope for Blu-ray, maybe thanks to Ultra HD Blu-ray. Although with that said, the first few weeks of 2017 have not been good ones for Blu-ray sales, and so perhaps the caliber of releases, as opposed to the newness of the format or the clarity of the picture, is a bigger factor when it comes to sales.

Weekly News Roundup (24 January 2016)

Sunday, January 24th, 2016
PC Build - Boxes

PC Building Step 1: Find a place to store a lot of boxes

A pretty quiet week. I wonder if it’s because of MLK Day, but certainly the news stories only started to flow at the end of the week, too late to make it into this edition of the WNR.

Some update on the PC build front – all the parts have finally arrived, and the build can begin proper. Keep on eye out for our series of blog posts on this, which will feature plenty of hints and tips for those looking to start on their own build. In the meantime, feast your eyes on these glorious pics (of a very messy section of my office).

PC Build - Boxes, close up

Let’s get started with this very short WNR.

Copyright

Smartphone Music Headphones

People may be using piracy to sample new music

Some would like you to be believe that piracy is always bad, and that it always leads to losses for the rights-holders. There are also those that say piracy is never harmful, and it may even be beneficial. But like most things in life, the truth lies somewhere between these two extreme, and it’s far more complicated than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no.

And so concludes a new study which looked at (admittedly old data, from 2008) piracy and how it relates to sales, and found that piracy does indeed negatively affect sales, but can also boost sales at times. According to the paper, piracy affects physical purchases, while helping digital sales, and the least well known artists have more to lose than those that are more popular. This last point is interesting, as it seems to suggest that pirates are picking and choosing which music they pirate, and once they do that, which music they end up paying for. It’s almost as if they’re treating piracy as a discovery tool, to trial new music without having to pay the full price. Good, popular music have less to lose from piracy (and may even gain from it, thanks to the word-of-mouth effect), while bad or unpopular music aren’t being purchased when there’s a free pirated version around.

This is perhaps why Spotify and others like it has become so popular, so quickly, especially among (former) pirates. Spotify is giving them the chance to discover new music without having to be out of pocket, the difference now being that, thanks to ad-supported listening, the artists can get something out of it. Not much, but certainly more than what they would get from piracy. But if you make bad music nobody wants, don’t be surprised that people will listen to it on Spotify and not pay for it.

High Definition

Jurassic World Blu-ray

Jurassic World was 2015’s biggest Blu-ray release

With news hard to come by this week, I finally had the time to write the 2015 Blu-ray sales analysis article, Blu-ray: The State of Play – 2015. Based stats that I’ve been posting weekly through the entire year, and comparing with the same stats from a year ago, the conclusion definitely seem to point to 2013 being Blu-ray’s peak year in terms of sales revenue. Things have been going backwards for two year’s in a row now (although 2015’s decline was slower than that experienced in 2014), despite there being no lack of big titles, including Big Hero 6The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five ArmiesFurious 7Jurassic World and Minions. Jurassic World was the title to beat in 2015 though (just like The Force Awakens is likely to be hard to beat in 2016), not surprising considering that at the time of its release, it was the third biggest movie in history. There was nothing like it in 2014, and yet Blu-ray revenue was still higher then.

Of course, falling Blu-ray prices contribute to the decline in revenue, but the digital evolution is obviously having an effect too, especially considering you can get pretty good quality HD (and even 4K) from most of the digital outlets, including streaming.

Will Ultra HD Blu-ray lift Blu-ray revenue out from its steady decline? Probably not. There’s just not enough display hardware, and software available in 2016 to make a huge difference, and even if it turns out to be a mainstream success, all it will do is to eat into standard Blu-ray and DVD sales number, without necessarily creating new customers (like DVD did when it first came out). I think the people that will dig Ultra HD and 4K, are those that are already heavily invested into Blu-ray – they will spend money, maybe a little bit more money than normal on Ultra HD, but the average Joe is already looking way from discs, towards streaming and downloads.

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And I’m already looking away from my monitor, towards getting my new build up and running. See you next week!

 

Blu-ray: The State of Play – 2015

Monday, January 18th, 2016

Welcome to another edition of our annual Blu-ray sales analysis, where we look at how Blu-ray has performed over the last year. We’ve updated the format of this article slightly to hopefully try and make it clearer, while removing graphs that we think are no longer particularly relevant or useful.

The data used in this analysis derives from our weekly updates, based on figures released by Home Media Magazine. Some of the historical figures you’ll see have also been adjusted, due to slight tweaking of the metrics used by HMM to create these sets of data, although the changes have been very subtle and does not change the bigger picture in any way.

For 2014, we saw for the first time since the Blu-ray format’s inception a decline in revenue compared to the previous year, and at that time, we called 2014 “the year that Blu-ray went backwards”. We declared boldly at that time that it appears Blu-ray’s popularity had peaked in 2013. Were we premature in proclaiming “peak Blu-ray” had been reached, or will Blu-ray make a come-back in 2015? Read on to find out!

Blu-ray Market Share

As has been the case with all of our “Blu-ray: The State of Play” reports in the past, we start with the ever wider Blu-ray Market Share graph. Blu-ray market share represents weekly Blu-ray sales as a percentage of total packaged disc sales. So a Blu-ray market share of 45% means that 45% of all disc packages sold in that week contained a Blu-ray disc (inversely, this also means that 55% of disc packages sold only contained the DVD version of the content). In the graph below, we also point out some of the more obvious milestone releases. 2015’s major releases, at least those that had a significant impact on Blu-ray market share for the week that they were released, were Big Hero 6The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five ArmiesFurious 7Jurassic World and Minions, and notable mentions to The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, Interstellar, Fifty Shade of Grey, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Inside Out.

 

Blu-ray Sales Percentage – 4 May 2008 to 26 December 2015

Blu-ray Market Share – 2008 to 2015 – Click to see larger version

Note that because Blu-ray market share is proportional to DVD market share, any drop in DVD sales will also result in a higher Blu-ray market share, even if Blu-ray sales are steady. With DVD on a steady decline, Blu-ray market share will continue to rise as long as it’s own sales decline is slower than that of DVD’s.

Below is the same data condensed and with a trend line added. As you can see, Blu-ray market looked to be on the way down until the second half (or rather, the last quarter) of 2015, when the big releases started coming out (starting with Furious 7). The big peak you see in graph below, which represents the current time record in terms of Blu-ray market share, came in the week Jurassic World was released (Blu-ray market share of 48.62%), a movie which, had it not been for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, would have been this year’s biggest movie, and the 3rd biggest of all time worldwide (now down the 4th). Star Wars could break this record again when it is released in March or April, most likely.

Blu-ray Market Share – 2008 to 2015

Blu-ray Market Share – 2008 to 2015

Blu-ray Revenue

For actual revenue, unfortunately, no records were broken as you can see from the graph below. The peak you see in the graph below again corresponds to the two important sales period, the Black Friday/Cyber Monday week, and the pre-Christmas sales period. 2015’s peaks are comparable, if not slightly higher than that for 2014, but neither of the past two years could compete with 2013. So our earlier premise that 2013 was the peak year for Blu-ray appears to be holding true.

Outside of the two major peaks, the other significant weeks came in the weeks that Furious 7 and Jurassic World were released.

Blu-ray Revenue Growth – 2010 to 2015

Blu-ray Revenue Growth – 2010 to 2015

2014 vs 2015 Comparison

So let’s take a closer look at how 2015 did compared to 2014, starting with Blu-ray market share as shown in the graph below. It’s much easier to see the initial decline and then major rise in market share from first half of 2015 to the second half. Those big releases mentioned earlier had a major effect on Blu-ray market share,

Blu-ray Sales Market Share: 2014 vs 2015 Comparison

Blu-ray Sales Market Share: 2014 vs 2015 Comparison

Revenue wise, the differences between 2014 and 2015 were less visible – certainly the first part of 2015 were disappointing for Blu-ray, but the second half at the very least matched, and often beat, the performances of 2014.

Blu-ray Sales Revenue: 2014 vs 2015 Comparison

Blu-ray Sales Revenue: 2014 vs 2015 Comparison

We can get a clearer picture by looking at the raw numbers. Out of the 52 weeks in 2015, 31 of them had a weekly revenue lower than the same week in 2014. 21 weeks recorded a revenue result that was higher than the same week in 2014 (with 11 of these weeks coming in the last four months of the year). This is an improvement compared to last year, when 35 weeks performed poorer than the same weeks in 2013. So if Blu-ray is in decline, the decline definitely slowed in 2015.

But did total Blu-ray revenue decline in 2015? Unfortunately, it did. Total Blu-ray revenue for 2014 was $2.156 billion, compared to $2.041 billion in 2015, a decline of 5.35%. This makes 2015 only the second year in which there was a year-on-year revenue decline, since Blu-ray was first launched in 2006.

Conclusion

To sum up:

  • Blu-ray market share grew, but it may largely be due to the decline in DVD than any rise in Blu-ray sales
  • Jurassic World was the title to beat in 2015
  • Blu-ray revenue declines for the second year running

These results seem to confirm that 2013 was indeed the peak for Blu-ray sales. 2016 will be an interesting year, with Ultra HD Blu-ray coming onto the scene (still unsure how sales will be tracked at this point), and with a couple of big releases already lined up (Spectre, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, The Martian …), not to mention the tent-pole releases of 2016 (Batman vs Superman, Star Trek 3, Captain America: Civil War, X-Men: Apocalypse …), it’s hard to say whether we will see a small bounce in 2016, or whether the decline will continue.

Weekly News Roundup (27 July 2014)

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

I’ve been catching up on my list of “to watch” movies, both on Blu-ray, and on my Netflix “My List”. I really wish there was a separate genre for disturbing or depressing films, instead of lumping them all together in the drama genre. It doesn’t feel right that movies as different as ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ and ‘Enough Said’ both belong to the drama genre (at least according to the IMDb), or that a film as disturbing as ‘Blue Jasmine’ would also belong to the comedy genre. I watched ‘Blue Jasmine’ after back-to-back sessions of ‘City of God’ and ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’, and if I hadn’t watched ‘The Muppets’ in between, it would have seriously disturbed my mood (and even so …). Be very careful when choosing to watch a drama, that’s my tip for the week.

(‘Enough Said’ was pretty sweet though, so it was a real mood redeemer thanks to great performances by the late and great James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus)

And yes, I did have time to do (some) work in between epic movie sessions.

Copyright

Google DMCA Stats

Quantity over quality, may be the strategy behind some rightsholders choosing to use Google’s DMCA process over more effective systems

This week TorrentFreak investigates why rightsholders are choosing to use ineffective Google DMCA take-downs as opposed to more efficient take-down tools, specifically the British based BPI. On one hand, rightsholders are submitting millions of take-down requests for URLs that are almost instantly recreated, but are refusing to work with tools that not only take down actual content/files, not links, but also keep them down.

One of the targeted file hosts, 4shared, is using a tool that is now owned by Spotify, that allows rightsholders to request any specific piece of content to be taken down – the tool will then automatically remove all related links to this piece of content, and even prevent future links from being created on 4shared. So it’s curious as to why the BPI and other rightsholders aren’t using this tool. 4shared thinks that the decision comes down to a public relations one. Millions of take-downs make better headlines than say working with a file host that you’ve been publicly admonishing, using a tool that makes piracy take-downs seem almost trivial. Piracy is supposed to be this billion dollar a year headache that cannot be solved without basically giving rightsholders total control over everything, so there is a need to be able to show how big the problem really is, and millions of taken down links will do that. The fact that these take downs are part of an endless game of copyright whack-a-mole, doesn’t really matter, neither is the fact that this does nothing to win the war on piracy.

It’s hard to win when you actually don’t want to win.

High Definition

My recent Netflix binge has made me pine for a private viewing mode on Netflix, hoping that the eclectic collection of films I watch won’t end up confusing the Netflix recommendation system. My wish may come true soon, as it appears Netflix is testing a private watching mode. The current workaround is to have a dedicated profile that you create and delete all the time, which also helps to ensure all the softcore porn you’ve been watching on Netflix doesn’t end up on your My List.

Samsung 3D active shutter glasses

PS4 and Xbox One both getting Blu-ray 3D playback in the next few weeks

Meanwhile, Netflix this week announced that they’ve broken through the 50 million users barrier, with nearly 14 million outside of the US. Revenue was up 25% as well, compared to last year, as the company focuses less on securing expensive licensing rights to films and TV shows, and more on original content.

Back to physical media, Microsoft this week announced that Blu-ray 3D support will finally be added to the Xbox One console, and a couple of days later, Sony followed with a similar announcement for the PS4. The PS4’s Blu-ray 3D support will arrive a little earlier than the Xbox One’s – next week versus some time in August. The one-upmanship continues for these two console heavyweights, which I guess is a good thing for the consumer.

Thus far, the lack of Blu-ray 3D support has been a bit more embarrassing for Sony than for Microsoft, considering Sony’s close links to the Blu-ray format (ie. it’s their format). So the update, coming via firmware version 1.75 next week, is most welcomed.

And if Sony can bring back DLNA support to the PS4, then I can finally start thinking about upgrading my PS3.

Gaming

It’s that time of the month again, and the NPD report for June shows a marked improvement for the Xbox One, thanks to the Kinect-removing inspired price drop, while the PS4 was still the best selling console for the month (that’s 6 months in a row).

PS4 with controller and PS Eye

The PS4 is still beating the Xbox One, despite sales doubling in June for the latter

Xbox One sales doubled in June compared to May according to Microsoft, but they’ve not been as willing to release sales data ever since they stopped having the top selling console (funny that). And so without knowing the May results, it doesn’t really tell us much. The only thing we know is that it wasn’t enough to allow the Xbox One to beat the PS4, and Sony will be really pleased with that.

Nintendo are happy too because the Wii U sold 140,000 units, which is a 233% improvement compared to the same month last year. There seem to be a new air of optimism for the Wii U, following the release of the new Mario Kart game, but it will take some time to confirm whether the recent sales bump is a sustaining one.

So everyone with some good news to report in June!

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That’s all for this week. See you soon.

Weekly News Roundup (10 November 2013)

Sunday, November 10th, 2013

Another short one for you this week. This one is kind of my fault though. As you know, I’m the arbiter of what gets written up here, and that’s mostly based on personal interest (I believe this is what they refer to as journalism), and I just wasn’t really in a mood to be interested in much of anything this whole week. I think watching The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Never Let Me Go back to back may have been a real detriment to my mood for the whole week, especially given the order I watched them in.

Okay, enough word padding, here we go.

Copyright

What is that idiom again? Something about people who live in glass houses. Or to be precise, people who are part of a global online copyright crusade and how they should really make sure their own copyright house is in order before pointing fingers at everyone else. The fact that the websites of the RIAA and the BPI, the music industry’s two main copyright lobbyists, both appeared to have been guilty of a case of copyright abuse isn’t really the point, as the fault was minor at best (and it’s common enough). No, the point is that if you’re going to be so rigid and strict in your interpretation of copyright law, like the RIAA and BPI have done so many times in the past, then you better make sure you’re not living in that glass house.

I think copyright is a fluid thing. It exist for some pretty good reasons, but it definitely should not be interpreted in a fundamentalist manner. There are lots of examples of copyright abuse that is perfectly reasonable, and if anything, should be encouraged by the copyright holder, or at the very least, a blind eyed turned to it. For example, using copyrighted music in a YouTube video, for example, is copyright abuse by the standards of the law. And the rights holders have the right to take action. But if the video would ever only be viewed a couple of hundred times, does it really matter? Or if it is a funny take on an unrelated subject (which would then fail to make it protected under parody exemptions, as the parody’s subject matter has to be related to the copyrighted material), one which would never hurt the original’s chance at making money, who is actually being wronged there? Another example. A piece of music that never achieved popularity becomes part of an Internet meme, should you then go on a massive DMCA crackdown campaign, which is of course your right. As I said, copyright is fluid.

So if we can forgive the RIAA and BPI for their copyright trespasses, perhaps they can show a little bit more flexibility and compassion the next time their rights are infringed. That’s all we’re asking.

High Definition

This deal is getting worse all the time! Last week, it was the Sony bombshell that the PS4 won’t play audio CDs and MP3s, and won’t support DLNA. This week, Microsoft has confirmed that the Xbox One won’t play Blu-ray 3D films.

That in itself is not as big of a loss as say the lack of MP3 and in particular DLNA support. But it begs the question: why? There are tons of el-cheapo Blu-ray players that support 3D these days, is it really that much more costly for Microsoft to include 3D playback?

Blu-ray 3D Logo

The Xbox One can play Blu-ray films, but not 3D ones

The answer is probably a yes. Licensing and royalty payments means that, even at a couple of bucks for each Xbox One sold, it will still end up amounting to millions of dollars in the long run. If the demand is there, Microsoft might add support via a patch. If not, they can either ignore it or sell it as an add-on pack in the future.

Both consoles will be fighting to win the upcoming console war, and profitability (which affects pricing) will be key to victory.

While the PS4 and Xbox One are deciding which previous generation formats they will and won’t play, Netflix is going ahead with the next-gen. Seven 4K clips, each around 8 minutes, are already available for streaming on Netflix. The description of these clips say they’re an “example of 4K”, with each clip being at different framerates (24, 59.94, 29.97 …). One would supposedly need a 4K capable Netflix player (and a 4K TV) in order to play these clips at their stated resolutions.

DVD vs Blu-ray vs 4K

Netflix will have to weave a bit of bandwidth magic in order to make 4K work under current broadband limitations

So it looks like Netflix are serious about getting into 4K, something their CEO hinted at a couple of months ago. The testing done now will determine the likely bandwidth requirements, which will have to balance the need to provide a high quality 4K picture, along with a low enough bitrate to allow a greater number of households access to 4K.

It’s all very exciting (at least for video nerds like myself), but the overall feeling I have is that all these new exciting things are being held back by the current state of the Internet. Even as it is, web video services like Netflix and YouTube would be a lot more usable if they were coupled with an ultra speed broadband connection, one that can only be consistently offered by fiber-to-the-home connections at the moment (so speeds in excess of 100 Mbps, with 25 Mbps or higher upload speeds). That Netflix has to make sacrifices to quality for 4K, or even 1080p, proves that the Internet is just not fast enough (on average) at the moment.

That’s it for the week. I promise I’ll try to be less disinterested next week, which should ultimately mean more news stories. Until then, have a nice one.