According to yesterday’s Yahoo news (Monday March 16, 2009), one of the top 10 recession winners is ‘Hollywood’. The article by Amanda Ruggeri makes the statement that “The number of subscribers to Netflix, the DVD delivery service, climbed 26 percent in the fourth quarter from the same time last year. That helped put the company’s revenue up 19 percent from the previous year. And according to industry researcher Media by Numbers, 2009’s box office sales are tracking 16.5 percent higher than the year before—at this rate, theaters will make $1.9 billion, versus last year’s $1.6 billion—with attendance up nearly 15 percent.”
From my years in media we (i.e. I, and the company’s with whom I worked) anecdotally always saw similar results – the theory being that advertising was a leading indicator of the health of an economy… businesses spend less on ads as things get tight and spend more as they get better. Consumers spend more on escapism to get them through the tougher times. So long form content was inversely accessible to short form content in recessionary times.
What I have yet to rationalize is, why doesn’t free content do even better? Perhaps we cannot accurately measure it, or perhaps as consumers we still need to feel the empowerment that a discretionary purchase brings our self-esteem.
Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.