THE ATTENTION ECONOMY: BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY
Entertainment is the fastest-growing sector of the global economy. In the United States, entertainment ranks ahead of clothing and health care as a percentage of household spending (entertainment 5.4 percent, clothes 5.2 percent, health care 5.2 percent). Each year Americans spend at least 120 billion hours and more than $150 billion on legal forms of entertainment. Because “entertainment” spans a diverse set of industries, it is difficult to place a dollar figure on the revenue entertainment generates. Some figures estimate that, in the United States, entertainment is a more than $480 billion industry, including domestic and international business. That figure does not include tourism or consumer electronics such as TV sets and VCRs which, many would argue, are bought primarily for entertainment.2 And, as mentioned in Chapter 1, spending on global entertainment and media is estimated to exceed $1.8 trillion by 2010.3
The question, then, is: Why is the entertainment sector outpacing growth in other industries? The simplest answer is: because it can. Economies grow with supply and demand, and, in the case of entertainment, we’ve seen rapid growth on both ends. Technological advances have increased both the quantity and the quality of entertainment choices (the supply). Meanwhile, because other sectors of the economy were doing well, people had more money to spend on entertainment “extras” (demand). However, even as world economies began to slow down at the beginning of the twenty-first century, entertainment industries remained relatively healthy.