Some followup on my earlier post:
In today’s New York Times, Jenna Wortham reports:
It used to be that a basic $25-a-month phone bill was your main telecommunications expense. But by 2004, the average American spent $770.95 annually on services like cable television, Internet connectivity and video games, according to data from the Census Bureau. By 2008, that number rose to $903, outstripping inflation. By the end of this year, it is expected to have grown to $997.07. Add another $1,000 or more for cellphone service and the average family is spending as much on entertainment over devices as they are on dining out or buying gasoline. And those government figures do not take into account movies, music and television shows bought through iTunes, or the data plans that are increasingly mandatory for more sophisticated smartphones.
Over at The Atlantic, Derek Thompson writes:
Even if we feel like we’re consuming the New York Times and Taylor Swift’s new album for free over the Internet, we’re paying thousands of dollars a year to access all that “free” content … We tell ourselves that we’re paying for connectivity, but obviously we’re paying to be connected to information. So how are media publishers failing if we’re paying more than ever for our media? The key seems to be that consumers have learned to put a price on access, but not on individual content … Today’s media mindset is “A thousand dollars for access, and not one cent for content.”
As an example of the prevailing trend, the US Department of Labor reports that over the past decade (through 2008) the amount an average American spends annually on newspapers and magazines has dropped by about 40%, from $97 to $61, but the amount spent for Internet access has more than quadrupled, from $49 to $222:
As for spending on cable television, the Census Bureau reports that the average American’s annual bill has gone from $256 in 2004 to a projected $401 this year, a jump of 57%.
How about radio, the original free broadcast medium? The Census Bureau reports that per capita expenditures on radio programming have increased about tenfold from $1.19 in 2004 to an estimated $12.25 this year.
I’m telling you, that free information really adds up.