The TikTok Ban … plus, Caitlin Clark and Tiger Woods


What’s Next for TikTok?

If you are a long-time reader of this newsletter, you know I’ve been predicting a TikTok ban in the United States for quite some time. Well, things are getting interesting.

On Saturday, the House passed a package that included a TikTok ban or sell to US company ultimatum. On Tuesday, the Senate passed it and on Wednesday President Joe Biden signed it. TikTok will have about a year to sell to a US company or face a ban.

There will be lawsuits and story upon story, but I believe ByteDance (the owner of TikTok) will be sold. TikTok is the most powerful media company in the United States (maybe the world) and the US government is not going to stand by and give China that much power.

NOTE: to be fair, you can make an argument that ByteDance is NOT owned by Chinese interests. The US Government thinks otherwise.

I’ve had the opportunity to chat with TikTok users of all ages over the past few weeks. Everyone seems to know what is going on, but they believe the issue is about privacy. Whatever you see in the news, this is NOT about privacy…it’s about national security and information flow.

According to Sprout Social, TikTok has 148 million unique users in the United States. It’s also, perhaps, the most persuasive of all media and social media outlets. The owner of TikTok has the power to shift sentiment with ease.

More positive stories about Taylor Swift? Easy.

More stupid cat tricks? Done.

A long-term campaign influencing kids not to believe in democracy? Probable.

Negative perceptions of Taiwan outside of China? Assuredly.

Multiple research groups have found that TikTok is also eerily silent on a few issues.

New York Times

I’m not a fan of conspiracy theories, but I do believe that our core media properties should be owned by US companies. TikTok is not. That, and the fact that TikTok tends to push kids toward harmful content, is a big problem (so does Instagram, a US-owned company, by the way).

For the most part, I’m not a fan of government intervention, but I’m FOR this bill like I’m FOR Florida’s move to ban social media for children under 16. Let’s see what happens.

Ultimately, if you create content on TikTok or are addicted to the platform, you’ll probably never know the difference if or when something happens. That said, any content creator worth their salt should be creating a plan B just in case TikTok goes bye bye (hello email newsletter).

Women’s Sports for the Win

Not sure about you, but I can sense a major change in our appetite for women’s sports.

In the past 20 years, the only truly popular women’s sports outside the Olympics seemed to be soccer and tennis (thanks Serena). Any other success points were fleeting at best.

But now, the data is hard to argue with.

First, the arrival of basketball player Caitlin Clark, formerly of the Iowa Hawkeyes and now with WNBA’s Indian Fever. For the first time, the NCAA Women’s final was higher in ratings than the men’s ratings, driven by stars like Clark and a star-studded South Carolina team.

And people actually watched the WNBA draft this year.

And then there is the LPGA. Nelly Korda just ripped off five wins in a row, stealing (rightfully so) some of the news coverage away from PGA’s Scottie Scheffler.

And where there is an audience, there is money.

Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian, who is also the husband of Serena Williams, is investing in and expanding a women’s-only sports bar called the Sports BRA. In addition, his VC is launching a women’s only track event in September, called the 776 Invitational.

It’s obviously more than Clark. It’s a culmination of great female stars. But Clark is doing what Tiger Woods did to golf and what Michael Jordan did to basketball. She’s taking the sport to an entirely new level.

Oh, and there have been lots of complaints about Caitlin Clark’s WNBA Salary. As the first round pick, Clark will receive $338,000 over four years. Many in the news are comparing this to the NBA’s number one pick, Victor Wenbenyama, who will receive in the neighborhood of $58 million over the same period. Sounds unfair, right?

I believe it is fair, for now. The WNBA loses money and brings in a small percentage of what the NBA brings in financially. If you think what Clark is getting is unfair, buy tickets to WNBA games and watch their broadcasts and buy their jerseys.

But a couple notes. Clark just inked a $28 million dollar deal with Nike. And, the WNBA players will have the ability to update their collective bargaining agreement after the 2027 season. If more tickets are sold and more people watch WNBA games, female players will make substantially more in 2028. Just like Tiger did to men’s golf and Michael did to men’s basketball.

More and more I’m finding myself a fan of watching women’s sports. My wife and I went to the NCAA Women’s final and absolutely loved it. It was a top five sports event for me. Last year we bought passes to the women’s tennis event in Cleveland. It was the best.

My hope is that the pay gap between men and women shrinks dramatically because more people are watching and supporting women’s sports.

Let’s go!

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