What the Internet did to words in the first decade of this century, it’s now doing to video.
I have been writing about this since 2017. Video is subject to the same crushing economics as music and news stories.
The gating factor is time.
My family can afford every streamer out there – Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Disney, Peacock, Max, and Paramount Plus. If we did that, our bills would be much higher than they were for cable.
But we’re not going to. We don’t have time for all those shows. Like many consumers I focus on one streamer, in my case Amazon, and a cable streaming service. When I buy other services, I’m buying their live sports coverage. I forego some of that because I have other things to do with my time. Like work, read, write, sleep, cook, and exercise.
For those families in the median income range of $75,000, money does matter. But there are lots of ways to be entertained with just an Internet subscription. My son devotes himself to gaming. My daughter loves YouTube and puts up with the ads. Many enjoy TikTok.
People talk about “screen time” and how dangerous it is, now approaching 7 hours per day. But less than half that time is devoted to any kind of video. Gaming and social media, together, take up just as much. It’s a global problem, and it’s peaking in wealthier countries like ours while continuing to rise in less-wealthy ones like South Africa.
Religion is no longer the opiate of the masses. Your iPhone is.
In 2024, reporters will decry the growth of screen time and at the same time bemoan the failures of TV streamers like Paramount, Warner Brothers, Disney, and Comcast. They’ll generally ignore the growing dominance of the Cloud Czars like Apple, Amazon, and Google, except to attack them pejoratively.
But the underlying economics of all this were set long ago, back when the Web was spun. The gating factor to all activity is time. We prefer to spend that time interactively. Gaming, social, and self-curated content provide more interactivity than reading or watching TV.
This is not entirely a bad thing. As we realize that interactivity is what drives us, maybe we’ll realize that other people aren’t quite so scary as our leaders want us to believe.