September 27, 2007

1378 words 7 mins read

What is the price of entertainment?

One question I’ve been pondering for a very long time is “What is the price of entertainment?". I’m not talking about just one specific type of entertainment, as there are many different types of entertainments, there are many different costs. Most entertainment is about keeping ourselves occupied for a certain amount of time. In this day in age we’ve come up with some very elaborate methods to entertain ourselves. Some range from the cheap to the out outrageously expensive. Kids probably have it simpler because they don’t have money to spend, running around on the playground is good enough for them. But… For those of us over the age of 8, lets take a look at some forms of entertainment, and what they cost (with per hour where possible).

  • Movies. It is my belief that movies are the “classic” entertainment for our current generation. They are obviously extremely popular, especially with the older crowd. So what does it cost? We’ll say on average it costs $10 a ticket just to get in to see a movie. If you buy anything at the concession stand, that is going to run at least $10-15 a person. Regardless of this, a movie runs on average of 2 hours. So we’ll say it costs about $5/hr. Not bad, about minimum wage. (note: Other possible costs, which I ignored: transportation)
  • Video Games With the younger generation, it is all about the video games. Microsoft estimated $170 million in Halo 3 sales. In the first 24 hours. This is a bigger release than any movie or book. Then again Halo 3, like most recent games cost $60+. Hours of game play vary per game and per style. Halo 3’s campaign mode is only a couple hours long, maybe replayed once. Most of the value comes from playing on Xbox Live, which of course costs $15 a month (or less). If you play the game for 6 hours, it is $10/hr. With Xbox live, it is not unreasonable to assume the player with play at least 12 hours a month (3 hours a week average). That only costs $1.25/hr. Obviously, the more you play the game, and Xbox live, the less it will cost per hour. With the amount some people play, it could be as low as a few cents an hour. (note: Other possible costs, which I ignored: electricity, internet, console/computer, tv.)
  • Amusement Parks When not playing video games, many people goto amusement or water parks. While these are generally an entire day affair, their costs are in excess of $50 a day. The main problem is that they have you trapped in these parks and you have to eat and drink. $10 a meal for fast food is probably an extremely low estimate for many locations. For the sake of argument, if you were to spend most of a day in Six Flags (6 hours), and only buy one meal. You would end up at $10/hour. Not bad at all. Of course you can stay longer, eat more. YMMV. (note: Other possible costs, which I ignored: transportation, souvenirs, show tickets)
  • Skydiving Another way to get your heart pumping is skydiving. No, I’ve never done it, nor do I ever intend to. It is expensive though, jumps start at $150 and top out $250. Of course this doesn’t include Video or pictures, so you’d want to spend an extra $125 on that package. Your total for one (18k) jump with pictures/video is $375. I’m not really sure how long it all takes, with the ground training, etc. But we’ll say 2 hours. Thats comes out to $187.50 an hour. Way pricey for my tastes, but Skydiving isn’t my “thing”. (note: Other possible costs, which I ignored: updating your will, transportation, funerals)
  • The Museum Gasp! There are things to do in the world that are entertaining and slower. A day at the museum perhaps? A day at SFMOMA will only run you $12. I’d assume that you’d goto a museum featuring something you wanted to see, Art isn’t so much my thing personally, but if you did, spending 2-3 hours is easy. That brings the cost to $4/hour. Less if you spend more time there. Many museums have year passes, with them, if you go enough, it is practically free! (note: Other possible costs, which I ignored: transportation, food)
  • Horses If “WTF” was your first though when you read ‘horses’, its ok. I thought I’d switch gears and show you something a little less common, but entertainment none the less. It is similar to many outdoor activities. You can do it for leisure (a walk through the park) or for serious competition (marathon runner). I spent a little time earlier this evening bugging Liz of Pair Of Aces Stables as to what horses cost. She told me that the low end monthly cost for your simple pleasure riding horse is $250. From that the prices can go up very quickly. If you are boarding your horse somewhere expensive, or have it in full time training it can go as high as $1,000+ a month. Of course the prices will vary based on what you have your farrier do, what extras you tack on, but that is up to you. I picked a decent number of $400 a month (something relatively simple, with maybe a little training), this is compared to the $300 a month Liz told me she spends on her personal horses. If you spent just 4 hours a week with your horse (16 hours a month) it would be only $25/hour. That is rather inexpensive, compared to what it could cost. Of course I’ve never met a horse person (and yes, I know more than a few) that only spends 4 hours a week with their horse. So the hourly cost drops dramatically. Shameless Plug — If you are looking for a Equine Trainer, and live in the Carson City/Reno area — look Liz up on her site PairOfAcesStables.Com. She does a great job on horse and rider alike. I should know, she taught me to ride. (note: Other possible costs, which I ignored: equine injuries, showing, equipment, clothing).
  • The Bar Somewhere out there, someone is drunk. The “adult” thing to do is to go out drinking (so it seems, personally I never understood the attraction). The bar I was at in San Fran earlier this evening was $2 beers. Other places I’ve been recently were $6 drinks. Unless you are an extreme lightweight, 1 drink an hour isn’t going to get you drunk. So for fun we’ll go with 3 drinks an hour @ $5 a drink. Ok, you may drink cheap beer, but you’ll have to drink alot more to get drunk — so it evens itself out. $15/hour isn’t a bad rate. It isn’t the cheapest way to “entertain” yourself, but its not bad. (note: Other possible costs, which I ignored: transportation, drinks purchased for attractive lades, trashed clothing, lost items, unprotected sex)
This is a broad swath of possible entertainment options. Obviously this isn’t an “all inclusive” list. You can’t possibly cover every way every person in the entire world entertains themselves. For 6 billion people, there are 6 billion different forms of entertainment. In the end it isn’t so much about how much the forms of entertainment cost, it is how much people are willing to spend. I do consciously think about how much time I’m going to spend playing a game before I buy it, to see if it is “worth it” and below my mental cost limit. I generally try to keep my entertainment to a maximum of $10 an hour. I’ll wait on buying new video games till they come down in price (or are available used) if I know I simply wont play them enough.

So as a serious questions to YOU, the readers. How much are you willing to spend per hour for entertainment? $5/hr? $10/hr? $50/hr? If you’ve never thought about it, stop for a few min and figure out how much you are currently paying for entertainment. You might be spending a lot more/less than you think. It doesn’t matter what the number is, as long as you are enjoying yourself — that is the goal of entertainment, isn’t it?