If you've got kids, you're probably well-acquainted with Nickelodeon programming. Not just Nickelodeon, but Nicktoons, TeenNick, and Nick Jr. for the pre-school set. Well, soon you can add My Nick Jr. to that roster. It's an interactive channel that will allow parents to customize their kids' viewing experience.
Here's how it will work. You can program your kids' TV channel to only play certain Nick Jr. shows --think Dora the Explorer --or shows about certain themes, like problem solving or friendship.
"After each episode, the child would be asked to rate the show," says Verizon spokesman Bill Kula. "And if no action were taken then the next episode would begin."
My Nick Jr. is pretty much a direct response to the way streaming services like Pandora, Netflix and Amazon are changing media consumption.
Paul Sweeney of Bloomberg Industries says people are getting used to viewing programming, "When they wanna watch it, where they wanna watch it, and on whatever device they want to watch. No longer are consumers content to simply watch programming as scheduled by an existing network."
Brad Adgate of Horizon Media says customized channels like My Nick Jr. are the wave of the future. But he has a warning.
"Not only can this endeavor hurt rivals like Disney, who's probably their biggest rival, and Cartoon Network, but it's also something that could cannibalize Nickelodeon themselves," Adgate says.
That's because little kiddos might abandon old Nickelodeon channels for the interactive -- and now ad-free -- My Nick Jr.. Adgate says that could hurt ratings and decrease advertising revenue for the old school channels of the Nickelodeon family.
My Nick Jr. has already debuted in France. Verizon's FIOS TV service will make the new channel available to its customers in the U.S. within a few months.
The Senate Intelligence Committee points to a failure by the State Department to provide adequate security. The panel also says that some members of Congress have mischaracterized the Obama administration's statements in the days immediately after the 2012 attacks.
Aerobic exercise reduces the risk of diabetes. But it looks like muscle-strengthening exercises help, too, according to the Nurses Health Studies. Even supposedly lighter forms of exercise like yoga and stretching reduced women's risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
The midterm elections are more than nine months away, but if you live in a state where the race for a U.S. Senate seat is going to be close, it may feel like Election Day is a lot closer.
That is because political advocacy groups, including Americans for Prosperity, are pouring millions of dollars into those races. Their decision, to run ads early, goes against conventional wisdom, which says it is a better investment to air ads closer to an election.
“I’m not sure there is conventional wisdom anymore,” says Whit Ayers, a Republican political consultant and the founder and president of North Star Opinion Research.
That is thanks, in part, to outside spending. It used to be groups wouldn’t spend a dollar now, because they were worried about running out later. With many more dollars in play, the economics of campaigning have changed.
“This is a whole new world of politics, where there is certainly no cookbook on how to do things right,” Ayres says, noting conservatives see an opportunity to make the Affordable Care Act the defining issue of 2014.
“It makes a lot of sense, from my perspective, to strike while the iron is hot.”
That is what an organization called Americans for Prosperity, which is backed by the Koch brothers, is doing. I reached Tim Phillips, the group’s president, in Montana, where he just announced a $1.8 million ad buy.
“We are determined to make Obamacare front and center, the number one issue for the American people,” he says.
The organization’s strategy has been to use politicians’ words against them, as in this ad, targeting Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA).
So far, Phillips says Americans for Prosperity has spent $22 million, adding “we expect to spend substantially more than that in coming months.”
Democrats are in a tough spot, says Steve Jarding who managed senate campaigns for Democratic candidates before he became a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School.
“They could spend early money to try to compete with this, and actually run out of money late,” he says.
That is not something Republicans have to worry about. Jarding says that, before long, we will be inundated by ads.
"Pretty soon you have ads going essentially year-round year after year.”
And that is what groups like Americans for Prosperity want. Its president says the organization will keep at it after the election is over.
It's a big week for the big banks. Bank of America beat expectations with its earnings report today, $3.4 billion last quarter. Earlier this week, Wells Fargo announced record profit. JP Morgan had better than expected earnings.
"You can tell that the banking industry is recovering, and that our economy is on a recovering path," says Ken Carow, a finance professor at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business.
But, turns out these banking numbers maybe smell a little sweeter than they really are. The effects of the housing crisis linger on these balance sheets. Banks are writing fewer mortgages. They're facing lawsuits, government settlements.
One thing propping up these earnings reports—accountants. Big banks are adding billions of dollars from reserves that they'd set aside for loan-losses that never came to be. "Now they are reducing the reserve for the bad loans, and are going to have a positive income effect," says Anne Beatty, an accounting professor at Ohio State University. But, be very clear, "there's no cash flow associated related to this income being created. It is a pure accounting effect."
So what's a regular investor to do?
Fight back, with some math of your own.
"Do some accounting," says David Stowell, a finance professor at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, "it's not easy to do, and you have to look carefully at the financial statements." But, he says, it's worth it. There's a lot of accounting noise in these earnings reports, obscuring the actual business of banking.
The former prime minister, who had been in a coma after suffering a massive stroke in 2006, died on Saturday. Sharon's career spanned the birth of the nation and most of its essential turning points. Israelis had a love-hate relationship with him that was beginning to soften only shortly before his death.