How Football Helped Kill Betamax

iStock
iStock

Every decade or so, consumers begin to get very frustrated with a mass media industry that can’t seem to settle on a specific format. Currently, people who own super high-resolution 4K televisions are wondering whether it will be HDR10 or Dolby Vision that will emerge as the leading picture quality standard. Prior to that, HD-DVDs were vying for shelf space with Blu-ray discs.

While these rivalries go all the way back to Thomas Edison’s wax cylinder for recording music (he lost out to the disc-based gramophone), only one became an outright punchline. In the 1970s, Sony’s Betamax videocassette format lost a highly contentious struggle to become the dominant home video format to JVC’s VHS standard.

One of the major reasons? American football.

In terms of quality, there was no comparison. When Betamax tapes and machines debuted in 1975, they offered vibrant colors and sharp renderings of pre-recorded and homemade cassettes. VHS, which debuted in 1977, was bulkier and flunked most head-to-head evaluations of the two formats.

But there was a compromise that consumers had to live with if they opted for Betamax’s sharper image: Tapes were only an hour in length, which meant that buying or recording movies required juggling two cassettes. VHS, on the other hand, offered two hours of recording space—plenty of time for many feature films.


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Sony was confident consumers would value picture quality above all else. And in today’s market, where televisions can reveal virtually every pore on a person’s face, that strategy makes sense. But early adopters were more concerned with how practical these new devices were, a fact that Sony didn’t appear to prioritize. When American hardware manufacturer RCA expressed interest in producing cassette recorders, they knew that U.S. consumers would want to record sporting events for delayed viewing. Because American football broadcasts can often exceed three hours, RCA told Sony they needed a cassette that could accommodate the games.

Sony was indifferent. They didn’t want to give up picture quality in exchange for length. But Matsushita, which partnered with JVC to make VCRs, saw the logic in it. RCA’s first machine, the VBT200, allowed users to slow the VHS tape down to create four hours of recording time. Football fans could time-shift games, recording them to watch whenever they liked.

That wasn’t the only reason VHS eventually superseded Betamax: Sony’s machines were expensive, whereas JVC was happy to let other manufacturers make units and engage in more competitive pricing. VHS tapes and machines were plentiful, and even though Sony eventually caught on and offered Betamax machines with longer recording options, the format soon retreated into a small sub-category of professional A/V technicians. Sony made their last Betamax unit in 2002 and the last tapes in 2015.

Reviews.org Wants to Pay You $1000 to Watch 30 Disney Movies

Razvan/iStock via Getty Images
Razvan/iStock via Getty Images

Fairy tales do come true. CBR reports that Reviews.org is currently hiring five people to watch 30 Disney movies (or 30 TV show episodes) for 30 days on the new Disney+ platform. In addition to $1000 apiece, each of the chosen Disney fanatics will receive a free year-long subscription to Disney+ and some Disney-themed movie-watching swag that includes a blanket, cups, and a popcorn popper.

The films include oldies but goodies, like Fantasia, Bambi, and A Goofy Movie, as well as Star Wars Episodes 1-7 and even the highly-anticipated series The Mandalorian. Needless to say, there are plenty of options for 30 days of feel-good entertainment.

In terms of qualifications: applicants must be over the age of 18, a U.S. resident, have the ability to make a video reviewing the films, as well as a semi-strong social media presence. On the more fantastical side, they are looking for applicants who “really, really lov[e] Disney” and joke that the perfect candidate, “Must be as swift as a coursing river, with all the force of a great typhoon.” You can check out the details in the video below.

Want to put yourself in the running? Be sure to submit your application by Thursday, November 7 at 11:59 p.m. at the link here. And keep an eye out for Disney+, which will be available November 12.

A Handy Map of All the Royal Residences in the UK

Frogmore House, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's primary estate on the grounds of Windsor Castle.
Frogmore House, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's primary estate on the grounds of Windsor Castle.

Somewhere along the way, you probably learned that Buckingham Palace is home to the ruler of the United Kingdom and many unflinching, fancily clad guards. And, if you watch The Crown or keep a close eye on royal family news, you might recognize the names of other estates like Windsor Castle and Kensington Palace.

But what about Gatcombe Park, Llwynywermod, or any of the other royal residences? To fill in the gaps of your knowledge, UK-based money-lending site QuickQuid created a map and corresponding illustrations of all 20 properties, and compiled the need-to-know details about each place.

quickquid map of royal family residences
QuickQuid

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip kept eight estates for themselves, and divvied up the rest among their children and grandchildren, some of whom have purchased their own properties, too. Though Buckingham Palace is still considered the official residence of the Queen, she now splits most of her time between Windsor Castle and other holiday homes like Balmoral Castle in Scotland and Sandringham House, which Prince Philip is responsible for maintaining.

quickquid illustration of royal family residences
QuickQuid

Windsor shares its grounds with two other properties: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s home, Frogmore House, and the Royal Lodge, where Prince Andrew (the Queen’s second youngest child) lives.

illustration of frogmore house
QuickQuid

Southwest of Windsor is Highgrove House, Prince Charles’s official family home with wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. They also own Birkhall in Scotland, Clarence House in London, Tamarisk House on the Isles of Scilly, and the aforementioned Llwynywermod in Wales. Much like the Queen herself does, Charles and Camilla basically have a different house for each region they visit.

illustration of highgrove house
QuickQuid

In 2011, the Queen gave Anmer Hall—which is on the grounds of Sandringham House—to Prince William and Kate Middleton as a wedding gift, but they’ve recently relocated to Kensington Palace so Prince George could attend school in London.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s only daughter, Anne, resides in Gatcombe Park with her daughter, Zara Tindall. Anne also owns St. James’s Palace in London, where her niece (Princess Beatrice of York) and her mother’s cousin (Princess Alexandra) sometimes live.

Lastly there's Edward, Elizabeth and Philip's youngest son, who lives with his wife in Bagshot Park, which architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner called “bad, purposeless, [and] ugly.”

illustration of bagshot park
QuickQuid

If you’re feeling particularly cramped in your tiny one-bedroom apartment (or even regular-sized house) after reading about the royal family’s overabundance of real estate, take solace in the knowledge that at least you’ll never have to follow their strict fashion rules.

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