If you can figure out the whole television mess, you’re much smarter than I am.

I’m not sure I fully appreciated the complexity of it until the Olympics. I can’t remember following the Olympics or “consuming more Olympic content” than I have these past two weeks – save maybe for 1984, when I was nine and had a crush on Mary Lou Retton. 

Meanwhile, the Nielsen ratings are tanking. 

Maybe I’m an outlier.

Or maybe it’s because I’ve watched the Olympics through Hulu Live and YouTube TV, and on three TVs in our house, two laptops, and my phone. I “watched” the all-around women’s gymnastics final on Noelle’s phone (i.e., she gave me the play-by-play), while driving to the airport. I watched swimming at PIT and diving at MSP. I watched at a bar, golf course (bar), and swimming pool (bar).   

Beyond that, I’ve watched countless event clips while scrolling Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Noelle keeps up with the events and the athletes on TikTok.

I check the medal count on ESPN.com and often fall down a rabbit hole of stories, videos, and links to more stories, videos, and links. Hell, most of the time, I’m doing that while watching an event on another device at the same time.    

And we’ve seen plenty of ads. That Dune movie looks super cool. I’m still not sure what’s going on with that little talking Toyota car. But I remember it.

Meanwhile, nobody in my family has watched a single second of the Olympics – or an ad – on cable or satellite TV. If you ask our kids which network is broadcasting the Olympics, they’ll probably say “Peacock” – and we don’t even subscribe to Peacock! 

Welcome to the future. 

How in the world does NBC, Comcast, Peacock, or whatever you want to call it prove all the content and ads I’ve seen? How do they demonstrate the value they’ve created for advertisers, other platforms, even the athletes? Hell, how do they even measure it?

Sure, the execution was a bit rough this time around. Broadcasting an event several time zones away is a tall order. I seldom knew what was live and what was recorded. I often knew the results of an event before I watched it. But I still watched. 

If NBC – or anyone – ever figures all of this out, it will be worth more than TV, by itself, has ever been worth. 

I’m just glad that’s not my job.

Here’s what we’re seeing.  

Consumer confidence is taking a short summer vacation. Our Economic Sentiment Index climbed a nearly imperceptible 0.2 points over the past two weeks, which I guess is better than falling again. Digging a little deeper, we see a mix of ups and downs. Attitudes toward the housing market seem to have bottomed out, while views on the job market have plateaued. It seems like a better time to make a major purchase, possibly because inflation fears are fading and child tax credits are hitting bank accounts (or both). It all adds up to a whole lot of nothing. 

The majority of people support businesses requiring proof of vaccination for customers and workers, but it’s not as clear-cut (or as tribal) as you’d think. We’ve been tracking how people feel about different types of public spaces requiring proof of vaccination, and most people support it across most categories except retail. A lot of people are on the fence, which is unusual nowadays. Also notable is that one-third of people who have been vaccinated don’t agree with vaccine mandates. It’s a good reminder that things aren’t always completely black and white.      

But don’t worry, political tribalism is still alive and well on Parler. After a dubious stretch at the end of the election, Parler seems to have bounced back. One in five self-IDed political conservatives say they have used the app and another 10% are Parler-curious. That clearly outpaces any of the other fledgling right-leaning social media alternatives like MeWe. If you want to know why these people are cheating on Facebook and Twitter, the chart below explains it all.    

It’s a wild time for the auto industry. This isn’t breaking news, by any means, but the dynamics of supply and demand for car-buyers right now are creating quite the frenzy. Fourteen percent of Americans say they are at least somewhat likely to buy or lease a new car in the next 90 days. That’s up from 10% a year ago. While that 4% might not seem like a big deal, these are numbers that have never really moved for the almost-decade we’ve tracked them. People have money, public transportation creeps them out, and they’re moving to the ‘burbs where they can’t walk or bike to work. Now, if only there was enough inventory.

People might be losing their hair because of the pandemic and I’m not kidding. An even 50% of Americans say they have experienced some kind of hair loss and fortunately I’m in the other 50% because you already know my hair is impeccable. But what you may not know is that hair loss is actually higher among younger (U45) people than among Boomers. Maybe it’s all the new hair products on the market. Or maybe it’s stress. People who are working remotely during the pandemic or had their jobs negatively impacted are more likely to report hair loss. But the most profound statistics are about diet. And if you ever want to know why I eat so much bacon AND have such fabulous hair, here you go. 

Here’s what else we published this week:

Oh, and I was the guest on the Chatter that Matters podcast this week and it was one of my favorite interviews ever. If you ever really wanted to understand the essence of what we do and why, this explains it perfectly.

Last but never least, the most popular questions of the week:

Answer Key: Ha, I wish; Yep, The Morning Show; Wait, people actually do this?; Cakebread; Points down; Southwestern.

Hoping you’re well. Big news coming next week.

JD