Updated: Jul 25, 2019
On Tuesday, Netflix announced that it would be increasing the price of its most popular plan by $2/month to $12.99. By every right, it’s still a steal for the content that Netflix offers, and the vast majority of subscribers will happily pay the extra 2 bucks.
But aside from making Netflix more money, what does the price increase mean for the rest of humanity? If movies are anything like food, the price hikes could likely mean more binge watching and a lot less sleep, exercise, and socializing.
All-You-Can-Eat and the Fattening of America
The value of the buffet is pretty simple: you pay a flat price and get to devour any quantity and combination of mediocre foods you like. The purpose of the buffet, like any other restaurant, is to eat until you’re satisfied.
The problem with buffets, however, is that humans almost universally over consume. We try to eat to “get our money’s worth” and end up scarfing down those two more extra breadsticks, one more helping of soft serve, or that last slice of overcooked prime rib.
Interestingly, the price of the buffet also impacts the amount that we consume, even if the quality of the food doesn’t change. People who pay a higher price tend to consume more than those who pay a lower price, even though their stomachs are equally empty.
In a study published by the MIT Press, participants were admitted into an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet. The cost of the buffet for half of the participants was $4, and the cost for the other half was $8.
The four-dollar group consumed, on average, 2.9 slices of pizza. The eight-dollar group consumed an average of 4.1 slices — 410 calories and 14.9 grams of fat more.
Can you blame them?
All-You-Can-Watch is the New All-You-Can-Eat
If movies are anything like food, the increase in prices for Netflix could mean a lot more Netflix consumption by subscribers — a metric that on paper makes Netflix look even more appealing to investors and shareholders.
But consider the implications of those price increases to humanity. Too much screen time has been shown to cause sleep deprivation, inhibit brain development, and lead to greater levels of emotional anxiety. In addition, the screens take us away from doing other important activities like exercising, playing and socializing, learning, and building relationships.
Netflix knows this. In their crusade to render network television obsolete and become the one-stop shop for television entertainment, they’re stealing more and more of the world’s time.
Nielsen reported in January of 2018 that US daily time spent watching video is now nearly 6 hours, a 30-minute increase from six months previous.
At some point we’ll reach our breaking point on TV breadsticks, right?
“I Didn’t Know We Had a Pool!”
The movie WALL-E shows a post-apocalyptic future where humans live aboard a gigantic space station consuming junk food and watching television as they cruise around in their mobile La-Z-Boys. Upon first viewing in 2008, the movie seemed satirical — a laughable plight that humanity could never realize because of course we’d never let it get that bad.
Here in 2019, it’s not as laughable.
In one scene, Mary, a member of the sedentary space society, has her screen removed from her mobile chair. After cruising around observing her newfound surroundings, her chair makes its way “outside” to a usual spot: a gigantic, beautiful pool with hundreds of humans sitting poolside behind a screen. No one is swimming. “I didn’t know we had a pool!” she exclaims.
It would seem in our screen-y world of today, we’re missing out on a few poolside escapades ourselves.
How many experiences are we missing because we’ve got our eyeballs buried in a screen? Maybe the future is closer than we think.