Axios PM

An analog clock with only two symbols instead of twelve: the symbols read 'AM' and 'PM'.

March 17, 2023

☘️ Happy St. Patrick's Day! Today's PM — edited by Noah Bressner — is 593 words, a 2-min. read. Thanks to Sheryl Miller for the copy edit.

✉️ Please join Axios' Niala Boodhoo and Paige Hopkins on Tuesday at 8 a.m. ET in Washington for an event about small business. Guests include Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, and Busboys and Poets founder and CEO Andy Shallal.

🚨 Situational awareness: The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin over alleged war crimes in Ukraine. Go deeper.

📺 1 big thing: Sports world shake-up

Illustration of a baseball with the stitching coming apart revealing a dollar bill inside

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It's peak season for sports fans: March Madness is in full swing. The NBA and NHL are in the home stretch. Baseball's opening day is around the corner. The Masters begins in 20 days.

  • But as cable-era business models unravel, the way Americans watch sports on TV is rapidly changing.

Why it matters: Local sports broadcasts are moving from cable to streaming, but it will likely cost consumers just as much to watch.

  • Regional sports networks, looking for new revenue to offset cable losses, are charging fans between $190 and $310 a year.

What's happening: Diamond Sports Group, the country's largest owner of regional sports networks, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week, and it's turbocharging the transition.

  • Major League Baseball senses an opportunity to play a larger role in how its games are viewed, Axios Pro Media Deals co-author Tim Baysinger writes.

Between the lines: Falling revenue for these networks could eventually impact pay for players on the field.

🥊 Reality check: The NFL, which dominates sports viewership numbers, largely airs games on broadcast networks, not cable.

2. 🛍️ Consumers' COVID hangover

Illustration of a shopping bag with the words thank you and a smiley face   outlined with arrows in a symbol for "change"

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

After three years, the pandemic has transformed how, where and when Americans shop and eat, Axios' Kelly Tyko writes.

  • Consumers have come to love some changes, but have mixed feelings about shorter store hours and QR codes replacing real menus in restaurants.

👏 What's staying: Curbside pickup is now a permanent feature at most large stores.

  • Mobile ordering became more popular, and it continues to drive customer loyalty and sales.
  • Three years ago, stores started cutting hours. Hours are still shorter.

🛑 What's gone: Social distancing measures and retail mask mandates are unlikely to be reinstated.

  • COVID accelerated the slow death of the physical coupon and printed circulars.

🔮 What's next: Stores are doubling down by adding more drive-thru lanes, and they're starting to allow consumers to make returns curbside.

  • Keep reading ... What changes do you like and which do you hate? Let us know here.

3. Catch up quick

President Biden and Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speak in the Oval Office on St. Patrick's Day.
Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

1. 🇮🇪 President Biden was presented with a bowl of shamrocks by Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, a tradition that began in 1952. Go deeper.

2. ▶️ YouTube is lifting its restrictions on former President Trump's channel after more than two years, Axios' Sara Fischer scooped.

3. 🏦 Silicon Valley Bank's former parent company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Go deeper.

4. 🤖 Get ready for humanoid robots

A rendering of Figure 01, a humanoid robot being built by a startup called Figure.
A rendering of Figure 01, a humanoid robot being built by a startup called Figure. Image: Figure

Human-shaped robots with dexterous hands will be staffing warehouses, tending to the elderly and performing household chores within a decade or so — at least according to a Silicon Valley startup working toward that vision.

  • Why it matters: Demographic trends make fully functioning, AI-driven humanoid robots look tantalizingly appealing for businesses, Jennifer A. Kingson writes in Axios What's Next.

🦿Where it stands: Figure 01 — a prototype from a startup called Figure — stands about 5'6" and weighs 130 pounds.

  • The company says it will eventually be able to walk, climb stairs, open doors, use tools and lift boxes — perhaps even make dinner.

Keep reading.