Trippant Takeaways.

A safer bet, a conversation about Max, a whole new ball game, Apple’s mixed reality vision, AI’s brains and Reese Witherspoon’s media empire are all in this week’s Trippant Takeaways — our weekly selection of stories that spotlight intriguing communications trends across sport, tech, entertainment and media.

ESPN and SportsPro on modesty in betting sponsorship

The liberalisation of sports betting laws in states across the US has led to an explosion in marketing as well as commercial growth. Now, a collection of major leagues and broadcasters have formed the Coalition for Responsible Sports Betting Advertising to pursue a safer messaging strategy.

Meanwhile, in English football, Premier League clubs have committed to dropping front-of-shirt sponsorship from gambling brands by 2026 — a move that some analysts expect will make other inventory more appealing.

Fast Company on dropping ‘HBO’ from ‘Max’

Last week, Warner Bros Discovery announced Max, its consolidated streaming platform, and plenty of commentators noticed one key missing element.

HBO is internationally synonymous with first-rate television and the network is on a run of huge critical hits, like The White Lotus, The Last of Us and Succession. Critics saw the decision to leave it out of the new service’s name as an unnecessary surrender of credibility. But could keeping the HBO brand separate help retain its sense of prestige while establishing a different, all-purpose identity for Max?

Photo by Tech Daily on Unsplash

The Drum on reinventing the world’s biggest football game

Later this year, EA Sports will relaunch the most successful sports video game series of all time.

EA Sports FC is the new name for the company’s all-conquering football title — formerly known as Fifa, until a licensing deal with the global governing body ended last year. The Drum has spoken to EA Sports and Uncommon, the creative agency supporting the refresh, to get a flavour of what to expect.

Bloomberg on Apple’s mixed reality landscape

Most tech industry observers are now confident that Apple will release a mixed-reality headset in the summer. How it will fare is another matter, with consumers still not wholly sold on the concept in other guises.

As it bids to follow the iPod, iPad, iPhone and Apple Watch by taking another product category into the mainstream, Apple is preparing to push hard on different functionalities — including immersive sports viewing, workouts, games and apps.

Wired and The New Yorker on AI’s brains

The rapid progress of generative AI tools like ChatGPT has driven fevered speculation about the broader future of artificial intelligence.

Experts are quick to note the difference between the familiar capabilities of narrow artificial intelligence — which can be trained to perform specific tasks to a very high level — and more human-like, transferable, general artificial intelligence, which has not yet been achieved.

So what are people seeing when they talk to a chatbot?

Stratechery on AI, music and the value of authenticity

Canadian rapper Drake was displeased to discover that an AI-created ‘collaboration’ with The Weeknd — trained on the voices of both performers — had gone viral in the last few days. The track has now been removed from Spotify and Apple Music.

Still, AI is a part of music’s future: Drake publisher Universal Music Group has already invested in its own experiments. Stratechery’s Ben Thompson lays out how issues of IP ownership, value creation and distribution could evolve in the next phase of the record business.

Photo by Hanny Naibaho on Unsplash

The FT on how media bias really works

It’s been an embarrassing week for ultra-conservative US media outlet Fox News, which paid a $787.5 million legal settlement to stop a complaint from voting equipment manufacturer Dominion going to court. Dominion had sued after the network’s presenters lied on air that the company was involved in a plot to steal the 2020 presidential election.

Many commentators had already seen ample evidence of Fox News pushing its agenda at any cost to its integrity. But according to Financial Times columnist Simon Kuper, Fox’s motives should be distinguished from those of conventional news platforms — even if every organisation is vulnerable to human bias.

The Telegraph on Reese Witherspoon’s Hollywood rise

Reese Witherspoon was already a celebrated, Academy Award-winning actor when she began her ascent to becoming one of the most influential people in Hollywood.

That success — with her Hello Sunshine studio releasing multiple films and TV shows so far in 2023 — owes as much to her cross-media savvy as her artistic credibility.

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