Why watch the same movie over and over again? – 05/22/2023 – Why? Economês in good Portuguese

The other day I was surprised to find an economics term –opportunity cost– in an interview about entertainment and behavior. The argument was raised by psychoanalyst Daniel Martins de Barros to explain why some people decide to watch the same movie or the same series several times.

And it makes all the sense in the world: if there is a choice, there are costs and benefits involved, which brings up the opportunity cost. When we make a decision, we have to give up something. It’s easy to understand this when there’s money on the line. As our budget is not infinite, if I decide to change my car, I probably won’t be able to take a trip abroad until the financing installments are paid off.

This is the opportunity cost of owning the vehicle: the other things I have to give up (that would bring me some satisfaction). However, if the person has a lot of money, this cost tends to be small – it is possible to change cars and take trips abroad without putting too much pressure on the budget.

There is, however, a restriction that all of us (regardless of income) are subject to: time. There are 24 hours in the day. If you choose to watch TV, you have less time to do other things that could benefit you. Note that, directly, there is no money at stake – if you choose to watch a movie instead of a football game, you are not richer or less rich because of it. But there is a cost – by watching the film, you gave up using time in alternative activities. That’s what we call opportunity cost.

For many of us, watching the same movie over and over isn’t worth it. Maybe you liked it a lot the first time and watched it a second time to see if you missed anything or to locate an easter egg. [uma referência]. But the gain is certainly less than the first time and you probably won’t see the movie again. As the additional gain is less and less, the opportunity cost of using the time for something else becomes very high. Why not try that new series everyone is talking about?

Most of us most likely behave this way. Otherwise, why would studios be producing an ever-increasing variety of movies and series?

In the world, however, not everyone has the same preferences. Some people may just not want to risk potentially wasting their time by trying different things. If you swap “Casablanca” (which you’ve seen 50 times already) for something else the stream is suggesting, there’s a very good chance you’ll be disappointed. For her, the opportunity cost of experimenting is very high.

The interesting thing is that, as commented by Daniel Martins de Barros, this behavior can be intensified with the increase in the variety of productions made possible by streaming platforms. In that case, the chance of choosing something you don’t like is even greater, raising the opportunity cost of deviating from more familiar choices.

And you, what type are you? Do you watch different movies and series, even at the risk of getting a “bomb”, or do you repeat the same productions because you will surely like it? What about other activities: do you always go to the same restaurants and parks? Watch reruns of old football matches?

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