Apr 24, 2005

sleeper curve economics

In today's Times, Steven Johnson argues that television is getting smarter, and is demanding more of its readers.  I love the infographics that demonstrate the "chordal" nature of Sopranos plot lines, and the dissection of the flashing arrow conundrum.  (My current obsession, Alias, is getting much better at not flashing arrows at every available opportunity; watching the first three seasons on DVD in an obsessive two month jag made that practice that much more obvious and annoying.)

I'm hopeful that that Johnson uses his upcoming book to dive into his hypothesis that there's economic incentive behind the "Sleeper Curve."  As he writes in today's piece...

The entertainment industry isn't increasing the cognitive complexity of its products for charitable reasons. The Sleeper Curve exists because there's money to be made by making culture smarter. The economics of television syndication and DVD sales mean that there's a tremendous financial pressure to make programs that can be watched multiple times, revealing new nuances and shadings on the third viewing.

Specifically, if the industry is just responding to market demand for smarter entertainment, what is driving that demand?