No one wants your old, heavy, non flat screen TVs

Thrift stores and recyclers in the Chicago area are not thrilled to get old TVs:

In 2012, an Illinois law took effect prohibiting residents from throwing televisions in the trash. But places that used to take them are either cutting back or no longer accepting them. Others are starting to charge to take old televisions…

The Salvation Army thrift stores have stopped taking them because used TVs don’t sell, said Ron McCormick, business manager for The Salvation Army’s greater Chicago area…

In Will County, e-recycling centers might stop taking televisions and other electronic waste entirely on Feb. 11 if a deal isn’t reached between the county and its recycling contractor, said Dean Olson, resource, recovery and energy director for Will County.

So, what is a consumer to do? THe solution proposed at the end of the article:

“We’re just being flooded, especially with those giant TVs,” Jarland said. “If they’re still working, keep using them.”

It would be interesting to see the overall numbers regarding how quickly Americans have replaced their old TVs. Given how much TV Americans watch and the technology (which dropped in price pretty quickly) of the last ten years that has led to a better TV viewing experience, this may not be a surprise. But, it makes recycling or being green tougher: people are simply buying a new television or two to replace the one that still works. They could still watch TV and save money with their old units but we refuse today to watch smaller, non-HD screens. (Though watching small screens isn’t necessarily on the way out – those who keep pushing TV on the smartphone, tablet, and computer are advocating for small TV but this is mostly about convenience, not preference.) Who should be responsible for disposing of these old televisions? Perhaps consumers should have to pay a fee to dispose of their old models.

For the record, I disposed of several older TVs at Best Buy in recent years. No resale shop wanted them. No relative wanted to use them. Would paying $5 each stopped me from properly disposing of the television? I’m sure there is some price point that would make sense.

TV watching crushes all other leisure activities

Five Thirty Eight looks at the 2014 American Time Use Survey and finds TV still rules supreme:

Americans still spend more time watching TV than all other leisure activities combined:

Americans average 5.3 hours of leisure time per day (4.8 hours on weekdays and 6.5 hours on weekends and holidays) and over half that is spent in front of the television. Socializing and communicating is the next most popular activity and is the only one to nearly double on weekends (35 minutes on weekdays, 61 minutes on weekends).

libresco-datalab-timeuse

And an interesting parenting finding:

From 2010 to 2014, parents had deliberate conversations with their children for, on average, only 3 minutes a day, and they read to their kids for 2.4 minutes per day (about one picture book’s worth). Conversation with children helps spur language development, and several states run programs for low-income families, who may have less time at home, to help them engage their children and close the word gap.

That television still must provide something that other leisure activities just can’t compete with. Perhaps it is the compelling stories – something must be okay on those hundreds of channels. Perhaps it is just the plethora of options in HD on a big screen (improved TV technology goes a long ways, particularly for live events). Or maybe it is that TV doesn’t require much energy while many of the other leisure activities require more personal investment. For those who see this as a sign of civilization’s decline, at least Americans are persistent in their love for TV…

Does Chicago gain anything by Jimmy Fallon taking a polar plunge in Lake Michigan?

New Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon was in Chicago this past weekend participating in a polar plunge. Does Chicago gain anything by this?

Fallon detailed his experience at Chicago’s Polar Plunge during Monday night’s show, a day after he dipped into icy Lake Michigan.

“I’m never doing that again,” Fallon said.

Fallon said Chicago “didn’t let me fool around” when it came to taking up Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s challenge to take the plunge, which benefits Special Olympics Chicago. The event drew a record number of people.

“I go in, and I hear you’re only supposed to go up to your knees,” he said, recalling running into the lake. “I just plunged back, I went under and a couple bubbles came out and I froze. I just stand up and I took my hat off and my hair turned to icicles, and I heard bagpipes. This is how I went. I thought this was it, I thought it was the end.”

Fallon also shared a gift he received from Emanuel, which declares March 2014 “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Month” in Chicago.

The biggest winner here appears to be the Special Olympics since people donate to participate. Plus, Rahm Emanuel participated because kids read over 2 million books for a Chicago Public Library summer program – reading is good.

But, wasn’t this primarily a publicity stunt for Emanuel as well as Fallon? Emanuel wins by being an active mayor. As Fallon notes in his retelling and shows in a picture, Rahm looks pretty good coming out of the water. Events like this burnish his image as a mayor who gets things done (past Chicago mayors have made similar claims). He helps kids read and cares about others. It doesn’t hurt that a new CNN show “Chicagoland” features him as mayor. Fallon is a new host, replacing Jay Leno. While he takes time out of his schedule to come to Chicago, it is good publicity as he is involved with a charitable cause and is getting out of the New York/Los Angeles bubble that all late night TV shows live in. Maybe the clincher here is Emanuel giving Fallon a resolution saying March is “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Month in Chicago.” Does this mean much of anything?

I’m not sure this all contributes much to Chicago. It suggests some people are willing to donate to Special Olympics – they had over 3,200 participants this year, no doubt boosted by Emanuel and Fallon’s presence. Chicago is a charitable city or a star-struck city? The polar plunge highlights the weather in Chicago, particularly in a season nearing record ice cover on Lake Michigan. On the whole, Chicagoans like to put on an exterior of tough people who can survive the weather, particularly when interacting with people from other places, but there is plenty of grumbling. But, is a polar plunge likely to bring in new tourists or help companies decide to move to Chicago?

(I realize this might be a grumpy take on a lighthearted event with some human interest appeal. However, this event got a lot of attention beforehand and afterwards and I wanted to think about how Chicago makes out in the whole situation.)

The different demographics of viewers of America’s major sports

Derek Thompson highlights the varied demographics of viewers of the major sports in the United States:

  • The NBA has the youngest audience, with 45 percent of its viewers under 35. It also has the highest share of black viewers, at 45 percent—three times higher than the NFL or NCAA basketball.
  • Major League Baseball shares the most male-heavy audience, at 70 percent, with the NBA.
  • The NHL audience is the richest of all professional sports. One-third of its viewers make more than $100k, compared to about 19 percent of the general population.
  • Nascar’s audience has the highest share of women (37 percent) and highest share of white people (94 percent).
  • The Professional Golfers Association has the oldest audience by multiple measures: smallest share of teenagers; smallest share of 20- and early 30-somethings; and highest share of 55+ (twice as high, in the oldest demo, as the NBA or Major League Soccer).
  • Major League Soccer has the highest share of Hispanics by far (34 percent; second is the NBA at 12 percent) and the lowest income of any major sports audience. Nearly 40 percent of its fans make less than $40k.
  • The NCAA demographics for football and basketball are practically identical but they are surprising old (about 40% over 55+) and surprisingly white (about 80%), which clearly has as much to do with who owns a TV rather than who follows the sports.

There are much smaller demographic differences – say across gender as all of these sports have primarily male viewers – and larger ones, particularly across race and ethnicity, income, and race.

I wonder if this could all be easily deduced by watching the commercials that play during the games. While the average fan may not be aware of these demographic splits, advertisers most certainly are and target the audience accordingly. Yet, I can’t say I quickly can name notable advertisement differences between the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL off the top of my head in the same way I quickly notice a difference in advertisements when turning on the network news at night (a very rare occurrence).

Zipcar finds more Millennials would rather give up cars rather than cell phones, computers

A recent Zipcar survey asked this question: “In your daily routine, losing which piece of technology would have the greatest negative impact on you?” Here are the results with the possible answers of TV, mobile phone, computer, or car.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are some clear differences by generation: cars become more highly regarded as age increases. TV is not rated that highly in this group of technology across all groups though it is clear these days that TV doesn’t really operate primarily through a big screen on top of a piece of furniture. And by quite a bit, mobile phones are most valuable to Millennials compared to the other technologies.

Now what exactly this means for what Millennials will do in the future is unclear. Would they chose a smartphone over a car when they need a better job and it is only accessible by car? Will they really change where they live over their lifetime because they value cars less?

It would be nice to have more information about Zipcar’s web survey. Is it a representative sample? If they don’t say anything about it, it makes me nervous…

AP: “Cord cutting” is real

Associated Press is reporting its analysis that, for the first time ever, both cable and satellite providers fell:

The U.S. subscription-TV industry first showed a small net loss of subscribers a year ago. This year, that trickle has turned into a stream….The phone companies [Verizon and AT&T] kept adding subscribers in the second quarter, but Dish lost 135,000. DirecTV gained a small number, so combined, the U.S. satellite broadcasters lost subscribers in the quarter — a first for the industry.

I guess cord cutting is more real than some would like to believe

Blog and order

Overthinking It has posted some analysis from a painstaking survey of Law and Order seasons 1-10 (hat tip:  Above the Law):

[I]n November 1993, at the same time the DAs of L&O were stumbling to a 59% success rate, Rudy Guiliani was elected Mayor. One of his big campaign issues had been, well, law and order, and tackling the crime rate was the centerpiece of his first year….Giuliani didn’t just fight crime, he fought crime in a lot of very visible ways that average New Yorkers would take note of. I don’t mean to take anything away from his acheivements [sic] — there was a remarkable drop in crime during his administration. But even before the murder rate started dropping, Giuliani created a strong public perception that there was a new sheriff in town. He restored people’s faith in law and order, and Law & Order immediately responded.

Here’s where art really started imitating life:

The [L&O] murder rate dropped by about 15%, and the L&O conviction rate shot up by more than 20%. There was a whole new feeling of optimism in the city and on the show (not to mention a young new DA by the name of Jack McCoy).

For those of you who want to dig into the data for yourselves, Overthinking It has posted the dataset here (Excel spreadsheet).

While no one would accuse L&O of being 100% realistic, I would never have suspected that it tracked real-world aggregates this closely.  It is one thing to base a single episode loosely on a true story, but it is impressive that the show statistically mapped NYC crime rates so directly.