The $650bn binge
Creative destruction in the entertainment business has had blockbuster results
America has seen some spectacular investment booms: think of the railways in the 1860s, Detroit’s car industry in the 1940s or the fracking frenzy in this century. Today the latest bonanza is in full swing, but instead of steel and sand it involves scripts, sounds, screens and celebrities. This week Disney launched a streaming service which offers “Star Wars” and other hits from its vast catalogue for $6.99 a month, less than the cost of a DVD. As the business model pioneered by Netflix is copied by dozens of rivals, over 700m subscribers are now streaming video across the planet. Roughly as much cash—over $100bn this year—is being invested in content as it is in America’s oil industry. In total the entertainment business has spent at least $650bn on acquisitions and programming in the past five years.
美国出现了一些引人注目的投资热潮：想想19世纪60年代的铁路，20世纪40年代的底特律汽车工业，或者本世纪对水力压裂的狂热 。如今，最新的热潮正如火如荼地进行着，但涉及的不是钢铁和沙子，而是剧本、声音、屏幕和名人 。本周，迪士尼推出了一项流媒体服务，以每月6.99美元的价格提供《星球大战》和其他热门影片，这比一张DVD的价格还低 。随着Netflix开创的商业模式被数十家竞争对手模仿，目前全球有超过7亿用户在观看流媒体视频 。今年大约有超过1000亿美元的现金被投资在内容上，可以对投资在美国石油工业的投资比肩 。过去5年，娱乐业在收购和节目制作方面总共花费了至少6500亿美元 。
This binge is the culmination of 20 years of creative destruction. New technologies and ideas have shaken up music, gaming and now television. Today many people associate economic change with deteriorating living standards: job losses, being ripped-off, or living under virtual monopolies in search and social networks. But this business blockbuster is a reminder that dynamic markets can benefit consumers with lower prices and better quality. Government has so far had little to do with the boom, but when it inevitably peaks the state will have a part to play, by ensuring that the market stays open and vibrant.
这场狂欢是20年创造性破坏的高潮 。新技术和新思想撼动了音乐、游戏和电视 。如今，许多人将经济变化与生活水平的下降联系在一起：失业、被敲竹杠，或生活在搜索和社交网络的虚拟垄断之下 。但这部商业大片提醒我们，充满活力的市场能够以更低的价格和更好的质量造福消费者 。到目前为止，政府与经济繁荣几乎没有任何关系，但当经济不可避免地达到顶峰时，政府将通过确保市场保持开放和活力而发挥作用 。