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The latest news from Business Insider

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    The proliferation of e-commerce has transformed free shipping and same-day delivery from perks to table stakes — and retailers are paying the price. With daily parcel volumes surging and customers increasingly unlikely to foot the bill, companies have been tasked with finding new ways to offer speedy shipments without eating costs.

    last mile share of delivery costs

    Among the most popular strategies is crowdsourced delivery, the Uber model helping online shops solve the most expensive part of shipping: the last mile problem. Like Uber and other ride hailing apps, a number of crowdsourced delivery solutions have been cropping up over the past few years to ease these pains by connecting customers directly with local couriers. And it’s not just startups either; Amazon, the world's undisputed e-commerce leader, is investing big in crowdsourcing deliveries.

    How much does Amazon spend on shipping?

    “Free shipping” comes at a high cost. According to Amazon’s 2017 annual report, the company spent $21.7 billion in shipping last year — a number that includes sortation, delivery center, and transportation costs. This is nearly double the $11.5 billion it spent on shipping in 2015. And as the expectation of free, same-day delivery becomes the standard for online consumers, even giants like Amazon need to seek alternative solutions.

    The crowdsourcing solution to the last mile problem

    The last mile of delivery is the most expensive and time-consuming part of fulfillment for retailers and their logistics partners, comprising 53% of the overall cost of shipment. Crowdsourcing takes the onus off of companies, instead connecting customers directly with local couriers to expedite deliveries and cut down on costs.

    The crowdsourcing model is already popular among meal and grocery delivery and, seeing the success of startups like Uber, Airbnb, and GrubHub, e-commerce retailers are now eyeing it to fulfill their online orders. As a result, general use crowdsourced delivery companies have emerged to meet this need.

    Here’s a look at how three companies - Amazon Flex, Hitch, and Deliv - are trying their hand in the shipping industry — and what’s coming up next.

    Amazon Flex - Deliver with Amazon

    Launched in 2015 and piloted in Seattle, Amazon Flex lets customers order and receive packages through its on-demand delivery service, Prime Now, which guarantees free one- and two-hour deliveries. For Prime customers with already high expectations for prompt delivery, not much changes; the service primarily markets itself as a side gig for couriers.

    Amazon Flex

    For the most part, the app is only open to people who have cars (except in select regions allowing commercial bicycles), so those who want to make deliveries on bike or foot might have to look elsewhere. The service is particularly attractive to rideshare drivers who may want to make extra money without having strangers or potentially disruptive passengers in their cars. Anyone 21 or older with a smartphone, car, and valid driver’s license can log into the app and schedule their availability to start making deliveries.

    Shipments can originate at an Amazon location, store, or restaurant. Drivers use their smartphone camera and GPS to scan packages and get turn-by-turn directions to their destinations. As long as they deliver the package within the allotted time frame, couriers make $18-25 an hour — all through a cashless transfer to their digital wallet on the app.

    Learn more about Amazon Flex.

    Hitch - Crowdsourced Delivery


    Founded in 2014, Tampa-based startup Hitch gives consumers, “the choice to be Shippers, Travelers, or both.” The platform touts “turning your commute into cash” by pairing up shippers (the people placing the orders) with travelers (the local couriers) who are already heading in the direction of the delivery.

    Users create profiles on the app to join the socially vetted community, where they can then rate one another and verify their accounts by adding bank account information. Shippers put out requests to have packages delivered, and Travelers can input travel information to see if there are any available deliveries along their route.

    The app uses GPS to find the quickest route and provide tracking, as well as camera functionality to show proof of delivery. All payments are exchanged through Hitch’s third-party payment processing partner, Stripe.

    Learn more about Hitch.

    Deliv - Same-Day Delivery

    Deliv is a general use last mile solution offering same-day service to over 4,000 omnichannel businesses in 35 cities across the country. Some of its biggest partners include Macy’s, Best Buy, Walmart, and IBM.

    Deliv Fresh

    Rather than just fulfilling ad hoc deliveries for consumers, Deliv seeks to be a long-term business partner solving companies’ last mile problem — evidenced by its breakdown into Deliv Small Business, Deliv Enterprise, and Deliv Fresh for groceries. It offers SLAs, performance metrics, and integrations into business’ online checkout processes.

    And the company is growing. In February, 2018, it launched Deliv Rx to extend these same-day services to patients, doctors, pharmacies, hospitals, labs, and clinics. Deliveries can include things like prescriptions, x-rays, medical equipment, documents, and even pet medicine.

    Learn more about Deliv.

    Growth & Future of Crowdsource Shipping

    Want to learn more? The Crowdsourced Delivery Report from Business Insider Intelligence examines the rise of the crowdsourcing model in the last mile delivery space.

    In this report, we detail the top use cases for crowdsourced deliveries, as well as the benefits and challenges of using this model for delivering online orders. We also provide insights into how to optimize crowdsourced deliveries for e-commerce and, lastly, we explain the long-term potential of startups appearing in the crowdsourced delivery space as automation plays a bigger role.

    Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

    • Retailers are looking for ways to deliver goods faster to consumers' doorsteps to stave off Amazon's threat and meet customer expectations.
    • To accomplish that, retailers and delivery providers are zeroing in on the "last mile" of fulfillment, the most expensive and time-consuming part of the delivery process, which is when a package reaches the customer's address.
    • Startups like Postmates, Instacart, and others are looking to disrupt the last mile delivery space by leveraging the "Uber model," and connecting businesses to non-professional couriers who can deliver goods instantly.
    • Crowdsourcing can drastically speed up deliveries in urban areas, where there is a high density of deliveries and potential couriers to be matched.
    • However, as delivery volumes increase, crowdsourced delivery startups will need to further optimize their deliveries to improve cost efficiencies.
    • Many of the deliveries these startups perform today will likely be automated in the future, raising the possibility that these startups may eventually look to incorporate new technologies like delivery drones or self-driving delivery vehicles.

    In full, the report:

    • Details the factors driving investment and growth in crowdsourced delivery startups.
    • Examines the benefits and drawbacks of using crowdsourcing to deliver online orders.
    • Explains how crowdsourced delivery startups can improve their cost efficiencies to tackle greater delivery volumes.
    • Explores the role that crowdsourcing will play in the future of delivery once automated delivery options, like drones and robots, arrive.

    Subscribe to an All-Access pass to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to:

    This report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports
    Access to all future reports and daily newsletters
    Forecasts of new and emerging technologies in your industry
    And more!
    Learn More

    Purchase & download the full report from our research store


    Join the conversation about this story »

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    The Crown Netflix

    • Apple stands to lose a substantial amount of revenue after Netflix dumped iTunes billing.
    • Netflix is currently the highest grossing app on the App Store and has to hand Apple up to 30% of user subscriptions billed through iTunes.
    • The streaming giant will force new and lapsed users to pay through its website rather than iTunes.
    • A chart from analysts at Nomura shows what happened to Apple when Spotify pulled the same trick in 2016.

    Apple has had a rough time over the festive period.

    In late December, VentureBeat revealed that Netflix would start forcing new and lapsed iOS users to pay for the streaming service through its website, rather than through iTunes.

    And on Wednesday, Apple issued a shock revenue warning after iPhone sales and China's economy were slower than expected.

    The Netflix development doesn't necessarily seem like a big deal, except that Apple earns a considerable amount of money from the streaming service thanks to its 30% levy on subscriptions, in-app content, and one-off payments for anything sold through its App Store.

    Read more: Apple's sweet talk about its $10.8 billion services business was totally undermined by Netflix

    Basically, if you pay for stuff on apps through Apple, the developer has to hand a slice of that revenue to Apple. This applies to digital content businesses like mobile games and music and streaming services rather than apps like Uber or Airbnb, which provide real-world services.

    Netflix is hugely popular and, in the US, it earned more revenue through the App Store than any other app, according to November data from SensorTower. We can assume then that it's also the top-earning third-party app for Apple. Further figures suggest Apple could end up losing $256 million in potential annual revenue thanks to Netflix bypassing iTunes billing. So Apple is about to lose a big chunk of cash from the App Store.

    Here's what that might look like, visualised.

    Analysts at Nomura noted that there's a precedent for Netflix's move: Spotify has been asking subscribers for years to switch away from paying through Apple. The analysts put together a chart, compiled with data from SensorTower and Instinet, showing just how that affected App Store revenue.

    This chart shows that Apple will feel a much bigger drop from Netflix than Spotify:

    Nomura Spotify Netflix chart

    This isn't particularly good news for Apple, which is currently trying to persuade investors that its services business can make up for its slowing iPhone revenues. Apple counts revenue made from the App Store as part of its services business. It also includes the money it makes from iCloud, AppleCare, and Apple Music.

    Business Insider estimates that revenue from the App Store accounts for almost 40% of Apple's services business. You can see how we worked that out here. Netflix may not dent that number by itself, but it might set a trend for other big subscription and content businesses — like major news outlets or Tinder — likewise trying to bypass the iTunes billing process.

    SEE ALSO: Apple's surprise warning to shareholders marks the first time the company has had to do this in almost 17 years

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: We tested out $30 tiny spy cameras from Amazon by spying on our co-workers

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    kid children screentime ipad tablet

    • A group of leading pediatricians said there is little evidence that screen use is harmful to children in itself, and encouraged children to "stop worrying."
    • The group said that evidence screen time is harmful is "contested" and that the "evidence of harm is often overstated."
    • It also said that it could not recommend screen time limits, except for the hour before bedtime, because the evidence is so weak.
    • This comes after the first findings from a large-scale study suggested that as little as two hours of screen time daily could negatively affect children. 

    Leading pediatricians said there is little evidence that shows screen time is "toxic" for children, even after other research suggested that just a few hours a day could damage developing brains.

    New guidance for under-18-year-olds from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health in the UK said the evidence that time in front of a screen has a negative effect on children is "contested" and that the "evidence of harm is often overstated."

    The evidence is so weak, the group said, that it could not offer parents a guide for how much they should be limiting their children's screen time.

    "Because the effect of screen time depends so much on context, and the uncertain nature of the evidence, it is impossible to give comprehensive national guidance or limits," it said.

    "Evidence is weak for a threshold to guide children and parents to the appropriate level of screen time, and we are unable to recommend a cut-off for children's screen time overall."

    But it recommended that children did not use screens for the hour before their bedtime.

    Read More:How much should toddlers use smartphones, tablets, and other screens? This pocket guide could help

    Dr Max Davie, the officer for health promotion for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said that parents should "stop worrying" as much about screen time.

    "We want to cut through that and say 'actually if you're doing OK and you've answered these questions of yourselves and you're happy, get on and live your life and stop worrying,'" he said.

    "But if there are problems and you're having difficulties, screen time can be a contributing factor."

    kids screens

    While there is little evidence that screen time itself has a negative effect on children, the group did acknowledge that screens can have a negative effect by taking time away from more positive activities like socializing exercise and sleep. The group also acknowledges other risks, like children being victims of cyberbullying.

    The group recommended that "families should negotiate screen time limits with their children based upon the needs of an individual child" and that families should ask four questions to examine the time it is spending in front of screens:

      1. Is screen time in your household controlled?
      2. Does screen use interfere with what your family want to do?
      3. Does screen use interfere with sleep?
      4. Are you able to control snacking during screen time?

    Other studies suggested that young children should be kept away from screens as much as possible

    Meanwhile, the initial findings from an ongoing first-of-its-kind study by the National Institutes of Health on how screen time affects students' brains found that as little as two hours of screen time daily could negatively affect children. 

    The study found that children who have more than two hours of screen time a day got lower scores on tests focused on thinking and language skills.

    The study will follow more than 11,000 children, who are currently nine to 10 years old, over the next decade as they grow up around screens.

    Screen-time guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics state that parents should accompany young children whenever they use screens and say parents should avoid screen time for toddlers between the ages of 18 and 24 months, with the exception of video calling.  

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Here's what happens to your brain when you get blackout drunk

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    • Most people think Britain only imports about 50% of its food. But the reality is that 80% of food is imported, including basics such as carrots and tea.
    • Under a no-deal Brexit, "any slowdown would lead to shortages of lorries, drivers and food," HSBC is advising its clients.
    • Britain's frozen-food storage facilities are already at 100% capacity.

    Britain may not be prepared for leaving the EU without a trade deal but the retail analysts at HSBC certainly are. And they are saying it will be worse than most people think.

    In a research note to clients dated January 3, HSBC analyst David McCarthy and his team wrote, "It is widely believed that 50% of food is imported into the UK," he wrote. Among Conservative party members, 76% believe warnings about a no-deal Brexit are "exaggerated or invented, and in reality leaving without a deal would not cause serious disruption," according to a recent YouGov poll.

    The 50% statistic underrepresents the reality, McCarthy says. In reality, "80% of food is imported into the UK," he wrote. The lower number "defines food processed in the UK as UK food, even though the ingredients may have been imported. For example, tea is processed in the UK, but we grow no tea — it is all imported. When ingredients are counted as imported, the real figure is over 80%."

    Food shortages would happen within days of Britain's current customs arrangements becoming defunct. "As one ex CEO said at our Chairman’s Conference in November: 'Carrots for sale in the supermarket on Thursday were in the ground in Spain on Monday,'" HSBC said. 

    Read more: Britain enters the 'Greek fallacy' phase of Brexit.

    Carrots will stay fresh if you keep them chilled, of course. But the UK's frozen food storage capacity is already 100% used, according to various press reports. "In preparation for a worst-case scenario, retailers and suppliers have been stockpiling in the UK and press reports have highlighted that there is now no unused frozen food capacity in the UK," HSBC says.

    No drivers, no food

    It gets worse. "Much of the food industry is staffed by overseas workers and a major labour shortage could hurt the sector. For example, there is a shortage of Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) drivers, with many HGV drivers in the UK coming from central Europe. As one CEO said at our CEO Forum in 2017: 'UK distribution would grind to a halt if free movement of labour was halted and truck drivers went home,'" McCarthy's team wrote. (HSBC did not immediately return multiple messages requesting further comment.)

    "As the supply chain is finely balanced, any slowdown would lead to shortages of lorries, drivers and food."

    Of course, the HSBC team sees a silver lining. Of all Britain's major food retailers, it sees Tesco as best-placed to handle the chaos and thus McCarthy's team rates TSCO — down 24% from its most recent high last August — as a "buy."

    SEE ALSO: The UK has never been more against Brexit and the chance of a second referendum has never been greater

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The equity chief at $6.3 trillion BlackRock weighs in on the trade war, a possible recession, and offers her best investing advice for a tricky 2019 landscape

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    Poland escape room fire.JPG

    • Five 15-year-old girls have died after a fire broke out in a Polish escape room.
    • The girls were playing the game, which sees participants get locked in a roomwhere they must solve puzzles in order to get out, to celebrate a birthday.
    • A 25-year-old man was also taken to hospital with burns.
    • The cause of the fire is unknown.
    • A day of mourning has been called for the town of Koszalin, northern Poland.

    Five teenage girls have died at a Polish escape room, where a fire broke out while they were celebrating a birthday.

    The 15-year-old girls were participating in an escape room game in Koszalin, northern Poland when a fire broke out around 5 p.m. local time (4 p.m. GMT and 11 a.m. EST), according to the BBC.

    Police spokesperson Monika Kosiec said the bodies of the five girls were found in a room near the fire when firefighters put out a blaze, with the state news agency believing the girls died of carbon monoxide poisoning, according to Sky News.

    A 25-year-old man was also seriously harmed and taken to hospital with burns.

    Escape room games, which have risen in popularity in recent years, see participants get locked in a room, where they must solve puzzles and complete complicated tasks in order to get out.

    Read more: A burglar allegedly broke into an escape room — but he had to call 911 on himself when he couldn't get out

    The cause of the escape room fire is unknown, but Polish officials are now carrying out safety checks on similar games across the country, where the escape rooms are popular.

    A day of mourning has been called for Koszalin, while a number of local events have been cancelled, with Polish President Andrzej Duda calling the fire an "appalling tragedy."

    "Five joyful girls starting out in life have had life torn away from them," he tweeted.

    Poland's Interior Minister Joachim Brudziński also tweeted his condolences to the families of the girls.

    "I want to express my sympathy and regrets to the families of the victims of the fire," he said. "I've instructed the chief commander of the State Fire Brigade to carry out fire checks on all places of this type across the country."

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: I'm a diehard iPhone user who switched to Android for a week — here's what I loved and hated about the Google Pixel 3 XL

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    This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here.

    US consumers have been “cord-cutting” — or canceling their pay-TV subscriptions in favor of internet-delivered alternatives — since 2010.

    cord cutting accelerates in the us

    The number of pay-TV subscribers dropped a record 3.4% year-over-year (YoY) in 2017, and the rate of decline is expected to accelerate further in the coming years. As a result, traditional media companies will continue to see their most important revenue stream erode. To compete in the shifting media landscape, traditional media companies' business strategies must satisfy two goals: extract as much revenue from pay-TV as possible before the opportunity to do so fizzles out, and taper reliance on pay-TV-related revenue along the way.

    In this report, Business Insider Intelligence will look at how big media companies are refining their strategies to meet the aforementioned goals and mitigate the impacts of cord-cutting that are detrimental to their business. We also discuss current consumer behavior trends that are simultaneously driving the growth of streaming platforms (like Netflix) and decline of linear TV, as well as actionable insights on how companies can respond.

    Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

    • As consumers flee linear TV, they're spending more time on digital video services with ad-free and ad-lite viewing experiences. 
    • Media companies are responding by becoming less reliant on pay-TV revenue by launching their own streaming services. 
    • Traditional networks are also increasingly seeking M&A opportunities to gain the resources, talent, and technologies necessary to compete with streaming giants.
    • More media companies are beginning to experiment with airing fewer commercials per hour to enhance the linear TV viewership experience. 

     In full, the report:

    • Explains the decline in US pay-TV subscribers in recent years, and how significantly this decline has diminished the viewership and ad revenue of top TV networks. 
    • Outlines the top factors that consumers look for when deciding to subscribe to a streaming service. 
    • Details the top recent M&A deals between media companies, and describes how they've positioned those involved to better compete against streaming giants like Netflix.
    • Provides direction on how to best approach cutting ad loads on linear TV, and explains why experimenting with airing fewer commercials could be beneficial for viewership.

    Subscribe to an All-Access pass to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to:

    This report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports
    Access to all future reports and daily newsletters
    Forecasts of new and emerging technologies in your industry
    And more!
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    Bruno Mars (C) and his band attend the MTV Europe Music Awards 2011 at the Odyssey Arena, in Belfast.

    • Bruno Mars just gave each of his seven band members a watch so they could "bling together."
    • The singer gifted each musician an Audemars Piguet Extra-Thin "Jumbo" Royal Oak, which retails at $55,000.
    • The luxury timepieces came in custom boxes that read, "Audemars Piguet: Bruno Mars 24K Magic World Tour Edition."

    It pays to be in Bruno Mars' band, especially if you're a watch fan.

    The "Uptown Funk" singer recently shared a series of images on Instagram of him gifting each of his seven band members beautiful gold Audemars Piguet watches.

    Read more:Ed Sheeran serenaded Bruno Mars for his birthday — and it was as extra as you'd expect

    The singer captioned the photos: "My boys continue to show the world what time it is, and a band that sings together blings together! #AudeMARS #Hooligans #Squad 2019!"

    My boys continue to show the world what time it is, and a band that sings together blings together! ✨✨ #AudeMARS #Hooligans #Squad 2019! 🍾

    A post shared by Bruno Mars (@brunomars) on Dec 31, 2018 at 5:29pm PST on

    This isn't just any bling, though. These are Audemars Piguet Extra-Thin "Jumbo" Royal Oaks, according to the experts at Hodinkee.

    At full retail, these watches, which were launched in yellow gold back in 2017, will set you back $55,400 apiece.

    The watch company seems to have made custom boxes for Mars and his band, reading, "Audemars Piguet: Bruno Mars 24K Magic World Tour Edition."

    Ironically, the watches come in 18-carat gold, not 24. They are beset with glare-proofed sapphire crystal.

    In any case, these are some seriously lavish gifts to ring in the new year. Where do we apply to join Mars' band?

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Why Harvard scientists think this interstellar object might be an alien spacecraft

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    This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here.

    bii big tech in healthcare ALL Four

    The healthcare industry is undergoing a profound transformation. Costs are skyrocketing, consumer demand for more accessible care is growing rapidly, and healthcare companies are unable to keep up. 

    Health organizations are increasingly turning to tech companies to facilitate this transformation in care delivery and lower health expenditures. The potential for tech-led digital health initiatives to help healthcare providers and insurers deliver safer, more efficient, and cost-effective care is significant. For healthcare organizations of all types, the collection, analyses, and application of patient data can minimize avoidable service use, improve health outcomes, and promote patient independence, which can assuage swelling costs.

    For their part, the "Big Four" tech companies — Google-parent Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft — see an opportunity to tap into the lucrative health market. These same players are accelerating their efforts to reshape healthcare by developing and collaborating on new tools for consumers, medical professionals, and insurers.

    In this report, Business Insider Intelligence explores the key strengths and offerings the Big Four will bring to the healthcare industry, as well as their approaches into the market. We'll then explore how these services and solutions are creating opportunities for health systems and insurers. Finally, the report will outline the barriers that are inhibiting the adoption and usage of the Big Four tech companies’ offerings and how these barriers can be circumvented.

    Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

    • Tech companies’ expertise in data management and analysis, along with their significant compute power, can help support healthcare payers, health systems, and consumers by providing a broader overview of how health is accessed and delivered.
    • Each of the Big Four tech companies — vying for a piece of the lucrative healthcare market — is leaning on their specific field of expertise to develop tools and solutions for consumers, providers, and payers.
      • Alphabet is focused on leveraging its dominance in data storage and analytics to become the leader in population health.
      • Amazon is leaning on its experience as a distribution platform for medical supplies, and developing its AI-assistant Alexa as an in-home health concierge.
      • Apple is actively turning its consumer products into patient health hubs.
      • Microsoft is focusing on cloud storage and analytics to tap into precision medicine.
    • Health organizations can further tap into the opportunity presented by tech’s entry into healthcare by collaborating with tech giants to realize cost savings and bolster their top lines. But understanding how each tech giant is approaching healthcare is crucial.

     In full, the report:

    • Pinpoints the key themes and industry-wide shifts that are driving the transformation of healthcare in the US.
    • Defines the main healthcare businesses and strategies of the Big Four tech companies.
    • Highlights the biggest potential impacts of each of the Big Four’s healthcare strategies for health systems and insurers.
    • Discusses the potential barriers that will challenge the adoption of the Big Four tech companies’ initiatives and how these hurdles can be overcome.

    Subscribe to a Premium pass to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to:

    This report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports
    Access to all future reports and daily newsletters
    Forecasts of new and emerging technologies in your industry
    And more!
    Learn More

    Purchase & download the full report from our research store


    Join the conversation about this story »

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    trader screen chart

    • JPMorgan's global head of quantitative and derivatives strategy, Marko Kolanovic, says the US stock market has gotten oversold, and he expects a sharp rebound.
    • The firm provides two charts that provide historical context for their short-term bullish call.

    As the stock market has been whipsawed and battered over the past few months, there's been one burning question on the minds of investors: when will it end?

    If the latest research from JPMorgan is any indication, relief is here, and it could stay a while.

    Stocks already got a big boost on Friday as the benchmark S&P 500 surged as much as 4%. But the firm's analysis suggests the strength could continue over a longer period.

    At the core of JPMorgan's argument are flows from retail investors. Commonly (and perhaps degradingly) referred to as "dumb money," retail flows are generally seen as chasing established themes. Put simply, they usually show up late to the party.

    As such, their behavior is view by many experts as a contrarian indicator. The thinking is that by the time retail investors get wind of a trend, it's already on its last legs.

    "More often than not, retail investors tend to buy at times of exuberance and sell at times of panic,"Marko Kolanovic, JPMorgan's global head of quantitative and derivatives strategy, wrote in a client note.

    In order to support its bullish stance JPMorgan offers a pair of charts. The first one — seen below — shows market performance after what the firm defines as "significant" fund inflows/outflows. As you can see, buying after large mutual-fund outflows has historically been a profitable approach.

    Screen Shot 2019 01 04 at 10.12.40 AM

    There's also the matter of pension fund behavior. A large portion of their flows stem from portfolio rebalances, so it's helpful for other investors to understand the implications of their activity.

    JPMorgan finds that pension buying is currently quite elevated. That's significant because a similar magnitude has occurred in 1998, 2002, and 2008 — or periods right around cyclical market bottoms. This dynamic can be seen in the chart below.

    "For unlevered investors, and those with less sensitivity to month-to-month volatility, pension fund buying is likely a positive market signal," Kolanovic said.

    Screen Shot 2019 01 04 at 10.12.50 AM

    With all of that established, JPMorgan is quick to note that traditional market signals have been disrupted recently amid considerable turbulence. And because of that, all bets are off, and the firm reserves the right to change its tune if conditions quickly deteriorate.

    "In summary, both mutual fund and pension flows suggest positive market performance in the future," Kolanovic said. "That said, we do recognize that the risk of a negative feedback loop (e.g., wealth effect of declining stock market) has increased meaningfully since December."

    And JPMorgan isn't alone. A proprietary indicator maintained by Bank of America Merrill Lynch just flashed an "extreme bear" reading — its first since June 2016, right after Brexit.

    How long will this sharp rally last? That's the big question overhanging the whole ordeal. But if JPMorgan and BAML are correct, traders willing to take on risk for a short-term market spike could be handsomely rewarded.

    SEE ALSO: The world's biggest stock bear explains why the battered market is still doomed to lose another 50%

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The equity chief at $6.3 trillion BlackRock weighs in on the trade war, a possible recession, and offers her best investing advice for a tricky 2019 landscape

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    addict hug sad

    • It's hard when someone you love has an addiction. 
    • It can be difficult to know where to draw the line with helping them.
    • Giving them money or taking on their responsibilities may seem like a good idea, but you may actually be enabling the addict's behaviour.
    • Here are four signs you're hindering someone's recovery instead of aiding it.

    Having supportive friends and family is incredibly important for anyone trying to recover from addiction. But there is sometimes the risk of a healthy relationship becoming codependent.

    According to Lawrence Weinstein, chief medical officer for the American Addiction Center, this is detrimental to someone with an addiction, because knowing someone is at their beck and call gives an addict excuses to act without consequence.

    "Often, the codependent partner of someone with addiction receives validation for tending to the addict's every need," Weinstein told INSIDER. "Whether the underlying problem is related to self-image, self-esteem or self-worth, the codependent partner is fulfilled when the addict is taken care of emotionally and/or physically, even while neglecting other important aspects of their own lives."

    If a relationship crosses the boundary into being codependent, the addict will have very little motivation to make changes in their life that will aid in their recovery. It may feel like you're helping them in the short term to turn their life around, but in reality enabling their behaviour isn't the best thing for them.

    Sometimes, it can be hard to tell if you're helping or hindering a loved one on their recovery journey. Weinstein pointed out four signs you might actually be enabling them, and need to change your tactics.

    Read more:This 14-question test will tell you if you're an enabler

    1. You're taking on their responsibilities

    It's not a good idea to take on all the responsibilities of the addict, Weinstein said, like paying their overdue phone bill, buying their groceries, filling up their car, and going to events or appointments on their behalf.

    "Asuming the responsibilities that are incurred by them through their own actions makes it easier for them to dismiss these obligations," Weinstein said.

    2. You keep making excuses for them

    It's not your responsibility to cover for the addict, Weinstein said, like dismissing their irritability as stress when really it's withdrawal symptoms. It's not up to you to phone their work day after day and say they are ill when really they were using drugs or alcohol extensively the previous day.

    3. You don't stick to your boundaries

    Healthy boundaries are incredibly important in any relationship, and a relationship with an addict is no different. You shouldn't let them slip just because someone needs help. For instance, if your loved one is caught using in your home, you should remove them from the premises, not just issue a warning, Weinstein said.

    "Not following through with boundaries indicate that reprimanding will not take place if rules and agreements are broken and the person with addiction feels free to dismiss any empty threats of punishment," he said.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Serena Williams and Roger Federer

    • Roger Federer defeated Serena Williams in a mixed doubles match on New Year's Day.
    • After the match, the two tennis greats gave an on-court interview, then took a selfie.
    • The selfie saw them holding two of Federer's black Wilson tennis rackets, one of which he gifted to Williams.
    • However, he said she gave it back to him as she "wasn't sure if she was actually allowed to keep it."
    • He made it clear it was a gift, and gave it back to her again — but she didn't return the gesture.

    Roger Federer gifted fellow tennis great Serena Williams one of his famous Wilson rackets after beating her in their New Year's Day showdown— but he says she gave it back because she "wasn't sure if she was allowed to keep it."

    Federer teamed up with Switzerland teammate Belinda Bencic to defeat Williams and fellow American Frances Tiafoe in a mixed doubles Hopman Cup decider in Perth, Australia on Tuesday.

    After the result — Federer and Bencic prevailed in straight sets with scores of 4-2 and 4-3 — was announced, the pair gave an on-court interview in which Williams hailed Federer as "the greatest of all time."

    Read more:Serena Williams praised Roger Federer as 'the greatest of all time' after losing to him in a historic doubles match

    After the interview, the pair went to grab their rackets before taking an on-court selfie (pictured above) — but since Williams' bags had already disappeared, Federer handed her one of his own black Wilson rackets, joking: "You can borrow one of mine."

    While he says he told Williams to keep the racket as a gift, she apparently tried to give it back.

    roger federer serena racket

    When asked about the incident in a post-match press conference after his straight-sets victory against Stefanos Tsitsipas on Thursday, Federer said: "She gave it back to me and said she wasn't sure if she was actually allowed to keep it, and I said 'It is for you,' so I gave it back again. So it's moved around a little bit, but it's definitely hers.

    "I don't know exactly where it is now or if she's left already or not, but it's hers, yes."

    Read more:Serena Williams identified Roger Federer's one 'super underestimated' skill after playing him for the first time

    When asked if Williams had gifted one back, he said: "No, but that's her choice. I'm OK either way, but this was not to get a racket from her, this was just a spontaneous 'Why don't you keep the racket?' because her coach had already taken all her bags off the court, which I couldn't believe... It's quite a service."

    Switzerland's Federer and Bencic will take on Germany's Angelique Kerber and Alexander Zverev in the Hopman Cup final on Saturday.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    kim kanye pda new condo

    • Kanye West reportedly bought his wife, Kim Kardashian, a $14 million Miami condo for Christmas.
    • The couple looked ecstatic on the balcony of the new pad on Friday.
    • The 4,700-square-foot, four-bedroom South Beach condo has five and a half bathrooms, a huge wraparound terrace, floor-to-ceiling windows, and access to a gym, pool, and spa.
    • The couple's appearance came just after it was reported that West and Kardashian are expecting their fourth child via a surrogate.

    Kanye West appears to have won Christmas — when it comes to extravagant gift-giving, that is.

    The rapper reportedly gifted his wife, Kim Kardashian, a $14 million, 4,700-square-foot, four-bedroom Miami condo over the holidays.

    When the couple visited the new pad on Friday, they both looked ecstatic — and they were seen performing some heavy PDA on their new beachfront balcony.

    kim kanye new condo

    Their South Beach home is located in an 18-storey building called Faena House, known as the "Billionaire Beach Bunker" since it's home to "hedge fund gazillionaires and ridiculously rich land developers," according to TMZ.

    faena house miami

    Built by Argentine developer Alan Faena, the contemporary unit reportedly has five and a half bathrooms, a huge wraparound terrace, floor-to-ceiling windows, and access to a gym, pool, and spa.

    According to Forbes, the condo in Collins Avenue tower was listed for $15.5 million by Douglas Elliman estate agents — but it seems West got a deal.

    TMZ reports that the couple plans to split their time between the new Miami home and their Hidden Hills, California residence, which they were forced to flee in November when wildfires spread across the state.

    Read more:All of the celebrities who evacuated or lost their homes as wildfires spread across California

    The happy-looking couple made the appearance at their new condo just days after it was reported that they are expecting their fourth child via a surrogate.

    They currently have three children together: North, 5; Saint, 3; and Chicago, 11 months.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The reason some men can't grow full beards, according to a dermatologist

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    This is a preview of the Global Payments Landscape report from Business Insider Intelligence. Current subscribers can read the report  here.

    • Noncash payments are on the rise worldwide.
    • As new players emerge to capitalize on consumer appetite for digital payment methods, three mature markets — the UK, Australia, and Sweden — have become standouts for what a more cashless society could look like.
    • The UK, Australia, and Sweden are transitioning to digital particularly well, and can serve as a roadmap for other mature markets seeking to overcome the legacy channel of cash.

    Noncash payments have been gaining popularity around the world for the last decade. And though cash isn’t anywhere near dead, its global growth is slowing as consumers turn to emerging cashless alternatives.

    Cash As A Share Of Total Transactions In Australia

    But there are a few key markets - Australia, Sweden, and the UK - where annual noncash payments have already surpassed traditional cash transactions altogether — and they’re stong early indicators of what a truly cashless society could look like.

    Why are digital payments on the rise?

    The growing adoption of noncash payments is a direct result of the rise of e-commerce, but that’s not the only factor. Consumers today are adaptable to disruptive technologies and are generally open to trying new types of digital payment methods.

    This consumer appetite is compounded by their access to infrastructure, as well as the emergence of government-backed initiatives, such as real-time transfers and the backing of electronic currencies, that make digital payments more enticing to both consumers and merchants.

    How are Australia, Sweden, and the UK driving the world towards cashless payments?

    Australia, Sweden, and the UK are emblematic of opportunities for payments players to lead the world away from cash. The Global Payments Landscape from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, provides a snapshot of the payments industry in each of these three markets.

    The report shows that several leading payments players have already emerged or are dominant within each of these regions — and they’re finding success in different ways. For other mature markets seeking to overcome the legacy channel of cash, the digital transformations of Australia, Sweden, and the UK can serve as a roadmap.

    Here are the strategies these regions are implementing in the race to become the world’s first cashless society:

    • Australia is launching government initiatives and instating new regulations. The Australian government has banned purchases over AU$10,000 ($7,500) from being made in cash, as well as launched the New Payments Platform (NPP) to allow real-time funds transfer as a means of replacing transactions typically made in cash, such as paying back a friend.
    • In Sweden, consumers are rapidly abandoning cash in favor of cards. In fact, only 2% of the total value of transactions in Sweden consist of cash a figure that’s expected to decline to less than half a percent by 2020.
    • Contactless payments are leading the shift away from cash in the UK. Nearly the entire population has a debit card, and debit card transactions surpassed cash payments for the first time at the end of 2017. This milestone was largely fueled by the surge in contactless cards, which grew 97% annually last year to hit 5.6 billion transactions.

    Want to Learn More?

    The Global Payments Landscape from Business Insider Intelligence compiles various payments snapshots, together illustrating how digital payment methods are supplementing or replacing cash in each market.

    Each snapshot provides an overview of the payments industry in a particular country, and details the evolution of its development. They also highlight notable payments players in each region and discuss the opportunities and challenges that players are facing in their respective markets.


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    Coffee cup dollar sign $ money expensive

    • San Francisco's Parc 55 hotel is charging every company holding an event on its property during the annual JPMorgan Healthcare Conference $170 for a gallon of coffee, according to a menu obtained by STAT. 
    • That's about $21.25 for a 16-ounce cup of coffee.

    As if San Francisco wasn't already ridiculously expensive, some attendees of the annual JPMorgan Healthcare Conference will be paying upwards of $21 for a single cup of coffee at one participating hotel in the city.

    The Parc 55 hotel, based in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood, charges $170 for a gallon of coffee (that breaks down to about $21.25 for a 16-ounce cup) to any company holding a JPM Week event on its property, according to a menu obtained by STAT.

    Can you imagine trying to expense a $170 gallon of coffee?

    The conference, which in the past has featured keynote speeches by Joe Biden and Bill Gates, runs from January 7 to 11.

    Some past attendees have said they have a hard enough time scoring an affordable hotel reservation — not to mention other essentials when visiting for the conference. 

    "I understand why hotels want to take advantage of it, (but) they're kind of killing off the golden goose," Biotech Showcase founder Sara Jane Demy told San Francisco Business Times back in December. Biotech Showcase is the second-largest conference held during JPM Week. 

    Despite the exuberant prices for even the most basic needs, like coffee (obviously), biotech companies don't plan on abandoning the San Francisco-based conference just yet.

    Why? Because that's where the conference has been historically held! And, according to the STAT report, a contract has been signed with the Westin hotel and the conference's namesake Wall Street investment bank for another 17 years!

    Anyone want to place bets on the cost of coffee for next year's conference?

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: I tried cooking an entire Thanksgiving dinner using Google Home Hub and found there are two major flaws with it

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    dry cracked earth

    • Evidence is mounting that market liquidity is drying up, a report from Deutsche Bank released in the final days of 2018 says.
    • Slumping liquidity, or fewer investors buying and selling, raises concerns for 2019, a team of analysts from the bank wrote.
    • Such a decline, they said, echoes what happened prior to the financial crisis.
    • "We recall that the unwinding of quant funds in August 2007 and macro funds in October 2015 were harbingers of subsequent market turbulence," they said.

    Declining liquidity and a surge in the number of hedge fund redemptions have eerie similarities to events prior to the financial crisis and could be "harbingers" of further market turmoil to come in 2019.

    Writing on December 28, a Deutsche Bank team led by the analyst Masao Muraki said that liquidity had started to dry up in certain areas of the market and that it was a concern for the already battered global stocks. Lower liquidity generally means bigger swings in market prices because fewer trades generate a bigger impact on the market.

    As liquidity has declined, Deutsche Bank's analysts wrote, so has the number of hedge fund redemptions increased, something that not only could be a "harbinger" for further market volatility but that also has echoes from the months before the financial crisis.

    "News of hedge fund redemptions has emerged since October 2018," Muraki and his team wrote. "The sustained high level of volatility has worsened the profitability of consensus trades based on market momentum, and the fall-off in market liquidity has generally hurt their performance as well."

    If the markets continue their negative trajectory, and early signs in 2019 are that they are likely to do so, then falling liquidity could help make downward moves even larger.

    Read more: A star economist says these 30 risks will define markets in 2019

    "We recall that the unwinding of quant funds in August 2007 and macro funds in October 2015 were harbingers of subsequent market turbulence," they continued.

    Many view evaporating liquidity in parts of the market in late 2007 as one of the first concrete signs the financial crisis was beginning to crystallize.

    In August 2007, France's largest bank, BNP Paribas, froze withdrawals from three investment funds, citing "the complete evaporation of liquidity in certain market segments," which it said "made it impossible to value certain assets fairly regardless of their quality or credit rating."

    The event was cited by Alistair Darling, the UK's chancellor of the exchequer at the time, as the moment he knew that a major crisis was on its way.

    Deutsche Bank is not the first institution to warn about falling liquidity. Back in July, Rick Rieder, the chief investment officer of global fixed income at the asset-management giant BlackRock, said tightening policy from global central banks was straining bond market liquidity and starting to send shockwaves through markets.

    Muraki and his team's report ends on a somewhat reassuring note: Things are not yet at precrisis levels.

    "We believe the level of maturity and liquidity transformation in advanced economies is lower than before the global financial crisis," they concluded.

    SEE ALSO: If you thought 2018 was bad for markets, a cocktail of fears is set to make 2019 even worse

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The equity chief at $6.3 trillion BlackRock weighs in on the trade war, a possible recession, and offers her best investing advice for a tricky 2019 landscape

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    Tim Cook looking at iMac Retina display

    • Apple has a big year in store for 2019. 
    • We're expecting new iPhones, iPads, Macs, and more. 
    • But there are a few wildcards to watch out for, including a new pair of noise-cancelling Apple headphones. 

    Apple had a big 2018 from a product perspective, releasing new iPhones, iPads, MacBook Airs, and Apple Watches.

    But that was last year. 

    Right now, in Apple's $5 billion headquarters, Apple Park, engineers, marketers, and executives are working on the hardware and software the tech giant will release this year. 

    Apple never comments on future products, but thanks to a robust ecosystem of journalists, analysts, and rumormongers, we can put together a pretty good preview of what to expect from Apple in 2019. Of course, these are rumors, and they could be wrong, or details might be off.

    But it gives us a pretty good idea of what to expect.

    Here's what we think Apple is cooking up: 

    SEE ALSO: The solution to Apple's problems is easy: Release a cheaper iPhone


    Apple said that it planned to release the AirPower wireless charger in 2018 when the iPhone X came out, but the calendar year came and went without an official launch or comment.

    But if the product hasn't been killed, there's a good chance we see a wireless charger from Apple this year that can charge an iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods at the same time. We'd expect Apple to launch a new version of AirPods at the same time that allows the wireless earbuds to charge on AirPower. 


    An iPhone X battery case.

    Apple makes its own cases for older iPhones that effectively increase the battery life of the device at the expense of thinness. But it's never released one for new "X-series" devices, including the iPhone X and iPhone XS. 

    But 9to5Mac found hints inside Apple code that the company is working on these products, and they could be released soon.


    New iPhones

    Apple will release new iPhones in 2019. This hasn't been confirmed by the company, but it's released a new iPhone every year since it came out. The launch is typically in September. 

    According to Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst for TF International Securities with a track record of correctly predicting upcoming products, Apple looks poised to release three new phones with the same screen sizes and bodies as the current models. 

    They're expected to have updated processors, potentially a triple-lens camera on the back, and a new kind of sensor that would allow the rear camera to sense how far it is away from walls and other objects. 


    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Jonathan Gaurano

    • On Thursday, tech worker Jonathan Gaurano posted a YouTube video claiming that he lived in his startup's offices for an entire year because rent in the San Francisco Bay Area is too expensive. 
    • “I was there for a couple days and then it just turned into thirty. And then I realized, ‘Oh my god, I should just stay," Gaurano told Business Insider.
    • Gaurano says that despite some close calls, he was never caught sleeping in the unnamed startup's office. 
    • While viewers have expressed some skepticism about the video, Guarano says that it's "as true as I can ever make it be."

    The San Francisco Bay Area's ongoing housing crisis has led to some denizens paying ridiculous amounts of money for, ahem, unconventional living arrangements

    And then you have the story of Jonathan Guarano, a tech worker who says in a YouTube video posted this week that he lived in his San Francisco startup's offices for an entire year, after his landlord abruptly quadrupled his rent. 

    The video shows what he says was his unique living arrangement in the unnamed startup's offices, covering everything from where he hid his electric toothbrush from his coworkers, to the time he says he locked himself inside a room late at night.  

    You can watch the video here:

    He says that he was laid off by the company in June 2018 and now lives in Los Angeles, where he works as a freelance video maker. Guarano is an avid YouTube content creator in his own right, and even directed and starred in a video for popular DJ duo The Chainsmokers. He says that he wiped his LinkedIn and his online resumés to preserve the identity of his former employer, with whom he says parted on agreeble terms. 

    “I was there for a couple days and then it just turned into thirty,” Gaurano told Business Insider. “And then I realized, ‘Oh my god, I should just stay! It’s just working out so great.’”

    Guarano says that in the beginning of his time living in the office, he had anxiety “24/7."

    "The first seven days was really brutal," he says. "[Over time], the anxiety was like, ‘I’m really tired. Can people please leave the office?'”

    Gaurano also says despite some close calls — once with an early morning cleaning crew — he was never caught sleeping in the office. 

    Viewers have raised concerns about the authenticity of the video — at one point, for example, a clock's hands don't appear to move, even though he says that time has passed. Gaurano dismisses this skepticism, and says that the events chronicled in the video are "as true as I can ever make it be." 

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. This report is exclusively available to enterprise subscribers. To learn more about getting access to this report, email Senior Account Executive Chris Roth at, or check to see if your company already has access

    New data shows that mobile features have become a key factor that customers weigh when choosing a bank. 

    Screen Shot 2018 11 30 at 4.34.28 PMIn Business Insider Intelligence's second annual Mobile Banking Competitive Edge study, 64% of mobile banking users said that they would research a bank's mobile banking capabilities before opening an account with them. And 61% said that they would switch banks if their bank offered a poor mobile banking experience.

    For channel strategists, the challenge in attracting mobile-minded customers is knowing when to bet budgets and political capital on developing emerging features. It's complicated by most flashy features — such as voice assistants, smartwatch banking, and bank-offered mobile wallets — being deemed a "must" by analysts, media, and rival banking executives. 

    4by3catThe Mobile Banking Competitive Edge Report uses data to inform channel investment decisions by highlighting which mobile banking features are most valuable to customers. Our study has data on consumer demand for 33 in-demand mobile capabilities across six key categories. 

    Using that consumer data, the study benchmarks the largest 20 banks and credit unions in the US by whether they offer the cutting-edge mobile features that customers say they care about most. What sets our benchmark apart is that it weights every feature according to customer demand data — not subjective analyst opinion.  

    Channel strategists within financial institutions use our report to see which innovative features they should prioritize in development pipelines and to find out how they compare with rival banks and credit unions in offering those features.

    Business Insider Intelligence fielded the Mobile Banking Competitive Edge Study to members of its proprietary panel in August 2018, reaching over 1,200 US consumers — primarily handpicked digital professionals and early-adopters, making our sample a sensitive indicator of emerging features. 

    Here are a few key takeaways from the report:

    • Citi snagged first overall. The bank led the account access section, tied for first in account management, and ranked highly in all the other categories of the study. Wells Fargo took second place, leading in security and control and transfers. USAA came in third, NFCU was fourth, and Bank of America rounded out the top five.
    • Demand for security features is sizzling. Following a year of huge breaches being announced at companies like Facebook and Google, consumers' security concerns jumped to become the most important category. The category included the No. 1 feature overall: the ability to turn a payment card on or off. 
    • Digital money management features are also highly demanded. Chase and Wells Fargo may be onto something with their millennial-focused banking apps, Finn and Greenhouse, as the generation had sky-high demand for the six features in the category. The most popular feature in the category was the ability to separate recurring payments, such as Netflix and gym memberships.

     In full, the report:

    • Shows how 33 mobile features stack up according to how valuable customers say they are.
    • Ranks the top 20 US banks and credit unions on whether they offer each of those features.
    • Analyzes how demographics effect demand for different mobile features.
    • Provides strategies for banks to best attract and retain customers with mobile features.
    • Contains 63 pages and 30 figures.

    The full report is available to Business Insider Intelligence enterprise clients. To learn more about this report, email Senior Account Executive Chris Roth (  

    Business Insider Intelligence's Mobile Banking Competitive Edge study includes: Ally, Bank of America, BB&T, BBVA Compass, BMO Harris, Capital One, Chase, Citibank, Fifth Third, HSBC, KeyBank, Navy Federal Credit Union, PNC, Regions, SunTrust, TD, Union Bank, US Bank, USAA, and Wells Fargo.

    SEE ALSO: These are the trends creating new winners and losers in the card-processing ecosystem

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    andrew luck

    • Forty of the top 50 most-watched sporting events in 2018 were NFL games.
    • Nothing came close to topping the Super Bowl, which had more than double the amount of viewers of the second most-watched event of the year — also an NFL game.
    • From December 24-30, even with many TV ratings down, nine of the top 10 most-watched programs were football games — six college football games and three NFL programs.

    There isn't much evidence that football, particularly the NFL, is dying in the U.S.

    According to Sports Media Watch, 40 of the 50 most-watched sports events in 2018 were NFL games. Eight of the top 10 most-watched events were also NFL games. The Winter Olympics and college football were the only other sports to make it into the top 50.

    The 2017 Super Bowl between the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots dominated every other event, registering 103.3 million viewers. The Patriots' AFC Championship game vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars came in second with 44.08 million viewers.

    The five next most-watched events were NFL games, followed by the College Football Championship between Georgia and Alabama, then the Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony. Then 15 of the next 20 most-watched events were all NFL games.

    No other sport topped 19 million viewers, with Game 2 of the NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors coming closest with 18.47 million viewers, according to Sports Media Watch.

    Zooming in further, football still has a stranglehold on TV, even when ratings are down. According to the Associated Press, New Year's Eve TV ratings were down across the board. But over the week of December 24-30, ESPN's prime-time ratings topped all networks.

    College football ruled in the last week of the year, with the semifinal between Alabama and Oklahoma coming in at No. 1. Nine of the top 10 most-watched programs were football games, with the NFL taking three of them. The latter is still a strong number, considering Week 17 featured many games with teams locked into the playoffs or out altogether.

    After two years of declining ratings, the NFL bounced back this year. Beyond the ratings themselves, the league and sports continues to be one of, if not the most popular thing on television.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Andrew Luck civil war graphic

    • ESPN was criticized for its use of the song "Dixie" during a broadcast of the Wild Card game between the Colts and Texans.
    • The song was used as the backing track to a graphic that depicted Andrew Luck as a Civil War officer.
    • "Dixie" served as an anthem for the Confederacy during the Civil War.

    ESPN was criticized on Saturday for its use of the song "Dixie" as the backing track to a Civil War graphic used to highlight Andrew Luck's offensive line.

    The graphic was made in reference to the popular Twitter parody account @CaptAndrewLuck, which imagines Luck as a Civil War officer sending letters home to his mother after each of his "battles" on Sunday.

    After reading one of the tweets on the broadcast, ESPN threw to a graphic that brought the account to life, showing Andrew Luck as an officer being protected by his soldiers to highlight the improved protection that of the Colts offensive line through the 2018 season. 

    While Luck was depicted in a blue uniform, ESPN decided to soundtrack the graphic with "Dixie," a song that served as the de facto national anthem of the Confederacy during the Civil War.

    On Twitter, viewers that caught the segment questioned ESPN's decision to use the song during the broadcast.

    It's not the first time "Dixie" has found controversy in football. The song was played regularly at Ole Miss sporting events until 2016 when the tradition came to an end due to similar criticism.

    SEE ALSO: NFL POWER RANKINGS: Where each playoff team stands heading into the wild-card round

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