Saturday, June 14, 2014

Entertainment: Content and Consumption

I have two young (teenaged) nieces who are interested in producing animation.  This recently reminded me of a prediction I had read years ago (before the 2008 Financial Crisis of course): namely that a future concern of the entertainment industry as a whole would be a scarcity of CONTENT rather than a scarcity of CONSUMERS.   Indeed, I read (alas, I do not have the link) that cable companies were kind-of starved for content providers with all of the new cable (and satellite, etc.) capacity expected to come on-line in the coming years.

I also recently read that consuming entertainment is so much easier than producing it, that, well, that's why people go to the movies rather than everyone making movies.  Consuming entertainment (watching a game, listening to music, going to the movies, reading blogs, social media, other Internet, etc.) is what most people do after they work.  I am going to make an (educated?) guess that consuming entertainment is what MOST people do here on the Internet, they read mostly, respond some in the social media, and pretty much leave it at that.

I realized that I bit off more than I could chew, this topic is too large, and my sources not very good for some of the media I wanted to examine.  I will try to look at CNBC, American Hard Assets and perhaps World Cup stats and maybe whatever I can glean from movies or the Cartoon Channel, etc. for another article of this type in the near future.  So I limit may rough analyses to my own blog, to Zero Hedge (!) and our local town's newspaper.


Blogs are real work!  Yet, I would guess that the amount of hours reading even my fringe blog outnumber my time to research and write it...  Regarding more specialized blogs, my thought is that even more total time is spent by the larger readership reading than the time spent by the creators creating content.  Here would be my best guess of my work on my blog content vs. approximate readers' time (these numbers of course are very approximate):

From 6 Jan 2014 until today I have had about 11,258 "hits", but some 15% or so of these would be my own: writing, editing, correcting and adding content.  So, 0.85 * 11,258 = approx. 9660 "real visits" from other people.  Some percentage of these real readers would be readers dropping by to see if anything new has been put up since their last visit.  But, most of you know that my quantity of readers depends much on my own publicity in announcing new pieces, so I am going to guess that perhaps two-thirds come by to read a new piece, rather than just seeing what they saw on their last visit.  9660 * .67 = approx. 6470 visits over that time frame.  Another guess (and each "guess" introduces greater error probability in these crude calculations) is that an average reader would spend 10 minutes per article: ((6470 visits * 10 minutes) / 6 [10 min periods per hour]) = approx. 1070 HOURS of people reading my blog.  1070 hours of consumption (I, of course, am hoping that my blog is more entertaining (while educational) than work).

OK, I have written 24 articles (not counting this one) so let me look at the CONTENT side now.  Clearly some articles take more research than others.  My recent gold-mining companies took time to prepare.  My gold analytical articles and articles that I had to research on my own took extra time.  Learning how to format graphs and photos.  But, a very rough guess would be some SIX hours of work per article, so 24 articles times six hours each would be approximately 144 hours of content production.

Continuing the quick arithmetic above would yield (1070 hours consumed / 144 hours of work producing content) works out to a fairly decent-looking (to me, a fringe-blogger) of about 7.4 hours of reader consumption for each hour of my work in putting up content.  That seems like a good number to me, dear readers, but what do I know, and of course, I am not paid for this (nor accept donations).  But see below...


I am curious as to the sorts of ratios of entertainment consumption vs. content production in other media.  My first quick & dirty look will be at Zero Hedge, ( the famous financial website.  I was not able to get the Tylers to give me any information (they are very protective of their users and information, so I understand), so I have had to make very gross estimates which, when compounded with more gross estimates yields numbers that are very uncertain, perhaps not even close to being true...  But, I gave it my best shot, I wanted to estimate a similar ratio as above of reader hours consumption per (average) "Tyler" content production.  The higher the ratio (number) the better.  So who won?

-- approx. 7.4 hours of my reader consumption per hour of my production content

-- approx. 52 hours of typical ZH consumption per hour of a "Tyler's" work.

Zero Hedge get about SEVEN times the consumption per production of content than I do (Zero Hedge wins by a lot)!  But, since I have very little to work with (numbers) re Zero Hedge, I had to make many guesses, which could be very wrong...  My only other consolation is that they are professionals who know what they are doing, have better sources, perhaps different ones have different knowledge sets (probably) and so on.  I also presume, that as an Internet-only operation, that they have lower support staff needs than our local newspaper (see further below).

See my Zero Hedge arithmetic on this Google spreadsheet:


Our local newspaper (a suburb of a city, town population of about 9000) is a weekly.  I am going to have to wing this one too (in other words make "WAGs" -- wild @ss guesses!).  Our town is fairly quiet compared to most other towns/suburbs of major cities.  We have part-timers here ("snowbirds").  Some people get the paper free, some have to buy it.  Many people do not read it (we have a lot of Latin American origin residents, the paper is in English and more geared to English readers).

I get the paper for free, so I read it, perhaps a total of 30 minutes per issue.  But, not all that many people get it for free!  My WAG for total readers getting it free, one way or another (would include advertisers, etc. I presume): 500 people.  My WAG for newspaper buyers at the various stores and newspaper machines here in town: 1500.  They also offer subscriptions to people not living here (part time or maybe not at all).  My WAG as to their subscribers would be maybe 500 people too.

"Let's say" that the 500 of us who get it free spend some 20 minutes reading it (I read almost all of it, I suspect most read less than I do), that would be some 167 hours (500 readers * 0.33 of an hour) consumed by our "free recipients" group.

Let us go on to estimate the time that a buyer of a copy at a local store would read it: say 40 minutes (they BOUGHT it, they may "show their spouse" something of interest, pass it on, etc.), so: 1500 * 0.67 of an hour) would be some 1000 hours read by retail buyers.  Finally, let's assume that the subscribers read it about 40 minutes each as well (they BOUGHT it): 500 * 0.67 = 333 hours too.

Total hours (per week) spent consuming our town newspaper's content: approx. 1500 hours.

But, they have to produce their content each week as well!  The paper employs about 11 people.  FIVE of them "produce content" (two reporters, one editor, two graphics and lay-out people).  I count all five because I have the same (roughly speaking) duties.  The other six employees do accounting, sales, and other support.

Let's say that each of the five content producers works 40 hours / week (I do not know that, but that would be about right).  5 * 40 = 200 hours per week producing content.

OK, they have (very roughly) 1500 hours of readers consuming content to 200 hours of their people producing content: 1500 / 200 = 7.5 hours of consumption per hour of content production (per week).

Wow, that's pretty close to me, I'm almost there!  Of course my work here is based on many guesses that would change the numbers.

Also, our newspaper HAS to come out every week!  The Show Must Go On.  I have the luxury of writing when time, energy and the spirit permit.


This is an interesting subject that I am attacking from "Ground Zero", as I know ZERO about how the media works.  I am sure that this kind of analysis is done at a proper professional level for almost ANY media that has to generate revenue.

THIS article took me a LOT longer than six hours to write!  I am guessing approximately 12.

Again, I am trying to get an indicator of the DEMAND for entertainment content vs. the production of content.  Any of you dear readers who have contacts anywhere in the media or can otherwise send me some information, I would be much obliged!

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