My name is Marcus K. Dowling. I keep an eye on everything, at all times. Every two weeks, I’ll tell you about three things that you should keep an eye on too. We call this column Marc-et Watch.

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DISNEY ON THE BRINK

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I’m not going to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but with earnings for the film already nearing one billion dollars, I think that Disney — the Star Wars franchise’s new owner — is okay with that. Plus, in the past twelve months, I’ve already done the following things that have added to Disney’s earnings via other various properties they own:

  • Booked a vacation to Walt Disney World
  • Watched their August 2014 film Guardians of the Galaxy (a joint partnership between Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Pictures)
  • Purchased a “Dancing Groot” tree and the Guardians of the Galaxy film soundtrack
  • Written for VICE’s dance music vertical THUMP (Disney recently invested $200 million more in VICE after initially being sold a 10 percent stake in the company)
  • Streamed approximately 50 hours of Disney-owned ESPN’s 30 for 30 content between Netflix and Hulu
  • Found much entertainment and bizarre interest in Disney-owned YouTube giant Maker StudiosEpic Rap Battles of History and PewPewDie properties
  • Purchased a Pepe the King Prawn action figure after falling in love with The Muppets ABC sitcom

However, Disney’s in a mind-bending place as a company right now. Its CEO Robert Iger is earning $44.9 million in 2015, and as a company overall it’s worth $179 billion. A rare brand that’s diversified well in both terrestrial and online broadcasting, Disney’s also excelling in branding, merchandising, experience delivery, and content creation, too. Recently, it quietly sold its stake in its stalling Fusion partnership with Univision (because the ROI is likely nonexistent), which is the kind of savvy business move that shows a company wisely eyeing sustainability in the face of a volatile marketplace.

But on the flip-side of that definitive success, there’s Disney’s ESPN ownership, which is intriguing to many media insiders because of the network’s potential unbundling from cable packages in response to the rising trend of cable cord-cutting. Showtime has already “unbundled” themselves from cable companies and succumbed to Hulu, while HBO has removed the cable subscription requirement from its HBO Go service. If ESPN unbundles from cable, it’s likely the start of all cable-based networks running to streaming providers, with Bernstein analyst Todd Juenger telling the New York Times, “[We] think other networks would respond in kind, and perhaps millions of households would drop cable to avoid ESPN (and other expensive sports networks) and take advantage of the rich array of entertainment video options.” In the end, ESPN may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back regarding unbundling, cable, and the future of terrestrial versus online content, and thus there’s potential for radical growth or fantastic failure for Disney.

So on one hand, Team Mouse is currently worth nearly $200 billion and is raking in incredible film profits. But on the other, there is this looming fear of what happens if ESPN gets lost in that shuffle of cord-cutting options; how much longer can Disney expect its largely comic-book and fantasy-driven movie success to last? The sustainability of that still-growing war chest, especially as it relates to their broadcast media properties, is going to be a really interesting development to monitor in the months and years ahead.

 

CURRY, CURRY EVERYWHERE

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It was 20 years ago during Christmas of 1995 that Allen Iverson was in the midst of his second (and final) season at Georgetown, the supremely talented ex-convict-turned-collegiate point guard dominating the NCAA ranks# on the way to becoming a first-team All-American. And for the better part of 20 years, the story of how the NBA has marketed its athletes has always trailed back to Iverson.

From tattoos, to hairstyles, from hip-hop swagger#, to alleged connections to drug culture, his legendary recalcitrance#, and seemingly perpetual place in the halls of jurisprudence, Iverson’s left a legacy that many have followed.

Then, in what feels like one Christmas season, Stephen Curry’s changed that notion real quick.

Yes, Stephen Curry has tattoos. However, they’re of his wife’s initials (on his ring finger), a Hebrew inscription that translates as “love never fails” (on his right wrist), and his jersey number (on his left wrist). Oh, and as a Davidson College sociology major three credits shy of his diploma, his senior thesis is a study of body art and the wearer’s unique connection to it. He’s a proud Christian too, and plays basketball, according to Gwen Knapp, with “gracefulness and stealth nastiness.”

Unlike Iverson, Curry appears to love practice, and instead of spending time in nightclubs, he posts amusing YouTube videos set to rap tunes that mention his name.

And as someone who has spent a lot of time in shopping malls over the past month, I can attest that from Under Armour# to Express#, Curry’s milquetoast smile and comforting soft eyes are seemingly ubiquitous.

In 2014, Stephen Curry left Nike to sign with Under Armour for $4 million. As a mode of comparison, that’s 75x less than the $300 million that Kevin Durant re-signed with Nike for and let’s just say four-thousandths of the likely billion dollars (or more) that LeBron James will earn via his recent lifetime Nike deal. But in the second quarter of 2015 — the year in which Curry won MVP and the Warriors won the title — Under Armour’s basketball shoe sales grew 754%. This ultimately means that Curry’s current deal (using Nike numbers as a standard) is actually worth more like $31,160,000. Even if we extrapolate that number to put Curry’s deal on the level of Durant’s current Nike deal that’s only 75x more lucrative, Curry’s ultimately still worth ~$2,325,000,000.

LeBron James may have recently signed a lifetime deal with Nike, but it’s Steph Curry’s ascendance as the spokesman supreme that truly speaks to the shifting image of what the NBA is becoming.

 

KREAYSHAWN’S BANK ACCOUNT IS “ON 0”

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Kreayshawn’s broke. Like, this isn’t in a way to say that she’s bereft of any rapping talent “broke.” Kreayshawn is broke in the “Internal Revenue Service garnished wages from my bank account” way of being broke.

2011’s favorite white girl rapper — famed for her one-hit-wonder single “Gucci Gucci” — disclosed this tragic fact on December 21 via a series of later-deleted tweets:

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“Can’t believe the day came,” Kreayshawn wrote on Twitter in a post that has since been deleted but that was captured via screenshot by balleralert. “The IRS wiped my whole bank account clean. 4 days before X-mas. I’m completely devastated.” Continuing, she says, “I did pay my taxes [except] instead of my accountant paying them he took the money for taxes and never filed and robbed me. So now I have to pay taxes from 2011 now. My current lawyer said we’d work out a payment plan. But I woke up to my act on 0 w/ no warning.”

With that, 2015 ends in a wild and likely unexpected place for Kreayshawn, the friends with whom she started her career, and the San Francisco community she represented over the past half-decade.

Here’s a look at their wild ride from the top to the bottom of the music industry:

  • Kreay’s a single mother of her two-year old son Desmond. Intriguingly, Desmond’s father is “Gucci Gucci”’s producer DJ Two Stacks.
  • Also using the “Gucci Gucci” video as a star-making vehicle was her then “DJ” Lil Debbie, who’s now estranged from Kreayshawn and stated in a September 22 interview with HipHopDX that, “Gucci Gucci” was written by somebody else: “That was a planned song. That was made to go on the radio and change the fucking world. When I heard that shit I was like, ‘That don’t sound like nothing you did before, bitch. Where the fuck you get that at?'”
  • Kreayshawn’s Dubai-born and Canadian citizenship-holding friend Chippy Nonstop — a rapper/DJ/Twitter superstar whose rise was built in-part to her ability to maintain US residency via a student visa — was deported in February and banned from returning to the United States for five years after illegally touring Asia (Chippy’s now in Vancouver, and recently DJ’ed a set alongside Kreayshawn).
  • Kreayshawn’s rise was linked to her connection to the diverse and creative underground arts scene of East Oakland, CA, and while San Francisco across the bay is already quite well known for being over-gentrified due to the tech boom, those issues now plague Kreayshawn’s home, too. Rents in East Oakland are jumping as much as 64% in the past year, and even though there’s reports of “six shootings a day” in the community, gentrification via new white residents is now “deep” in the community. From “Gucci Gucci” lambasting “basic bitches” to the community from which the song was born now welcoming them with open arms, it’s quite the ironic twist.

Kreayshawn almost had it all. Now, she quite literally has nothing.

“I like wanna be sad but my body and mind won’t let me, I think that means something good is gonna happen.” For Kreayshawn’s sake, let’s hope her tweet is prophetic.