Economic Crisis? Let's Watch TV

BlogHer Original Post

The Dow is down, the S&P is tanking and we're all tightening our budgets to cope, right? Well yeah, except when it comes to entertainment.

A recent poll by via Pop Watch Blog asked people "how the economy had changed their movie going habits," 31 percent said it had done so "noticeably," 33 percent said, "drastically," and 36 percent said, "No change."

That may be, but just like high gas prices made "staycations" popular last summer, smaller household budgets will still find room for home entertainment. Movie goers and TV viewers are just being smarter about it.

Silv, a commenter at Pop Watch Blog said her family is more selective when it comes to movies:

Our big splurge this summer was to see "The Dark Knight." No other movie warranted the $10 ticket price. We saw other movies at the discount theater - $4 even after 6 pm, in a beautiful, old-time classic theater, well worth the wait.

We get videos from the library - $1/video, including a whole season's dvd set, vs. $5 at Blockbuster? Hah! Needless to say, Blockbuster closed in our small town.

When it comes to electronic purchases according to Sue Walsh at Gadgetell this is what the Consumer Electronics Association has to say:

The CEA says holiday sales of flat panel TVs and other A/V equipment
will likely rise 4.7% and sales of gaming hardware will rise 3.5%.
Sales of consoles may go down but portable gaming machines, which cost less and are easier to find, will enjoy brisk sales. According to the CEA many consumers simply don’t see money spent on gadgets as discretionary spending and as a result likely won’t stop spending on them.

Personally, before the Dow started to tank, I was considering trading in my 20 year old, Sony Trinitron for a nice new flat screeen TV, and though I might wait until the after Christmas sales to get one, I still plan on it.

In keeping with the idea that electronics won't be the first things cut from the household budget, the Financial Times has a quote from the founder of Panasonic, Fumio Ohtsubo about their electronic sales:

"The economy is going down - that is true - but we do not have any serious problems in US sales."

Mr Ohtsubo's comments are in contrast to the pessimism about US consumer spending that has hammered the shares of Apple and other consumer technology companies in recent days.

"Flat panel TV sales are on plan. Other [audio-visual] products such as DVD recorders and digital still cameras are also achieving our plan. The one negative point is our industrial business, but overall it is not so serious at present," he said.

Though, also from the Financial Times:

Toshihiro Sakamoto, the president of Panasonic's audio-visual business, linked the resilience of TV sales to the upcoming shutdown of analogue broadcasting signals in many countries.

Ron Bloom of Ron thinks that the downturn in the economy presents ripe business opportunities that will change the way we all receive our entertainment. He calls it a "Stay-At-Home Economy:"

“At-Homers” will redefine the nature of online entertainment and begin to consume media in different ways. Producers will begin to seize the market and create new entertainment formats to reach this new audience on their computers, TV’s and phones. Entertainment socialization will
rise from 2.0 social networks, creating living reality programming.

Speaking of programming, get ready for "Recession TV." Quoted in the New York Post, NBC's Ben Silverman tells viewers to look for more blue collar shows like "Roseanne," that will reflect what's going on in the country.

"We anticipated that the economic times were not going to be as strong
as they once were," Silverman says, "and so, after the writers' strike, we consciously began development on a number of shows featuring working-class heroes."

The networks are also developing more comedies under the assumption that drama won't play quite as well in the coming months. What about rolling in dough families like the Darlings on ABC's "Dirty, Sexy Money?" Well, they may not all of a sudden be taking the subway to work, but "aspects of the financial crisis could figure into future plotlines, says ABC's Kim Rozenfeld."

Also on the programming side, don't forget there are so many more options of current and classic TV shows on sites like Hulu and Veoh, you might even rethink whether or not you need cable. After all, you might have 20 different HBO channels, but so what, if they're all showing "The Mummy."

Have you cut back on your entertainment budget? If so, tell me how.


Megan Smith is the BlogHer Contributing Editor covering Television and YouTube and she's looking forward to getting that flat screen TV. Her other blogs are Megan's Minute, quirky commentary around the clock and Video Runway.


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