The Economics of Gym-Going, Part 2

From a reader named Laura Brown:

I recently joined a gym in a low-income part of Baltimore. For $10 a month, a person has unlimited access to the equipment -- including treadmills that have individual televisions with about 20 different channels. For $19.99 a month, they have unlimited access as well as unlimited guest privileges. I've only been to the gym twice since I signed up, but both times (in the evening), the gym has been almost to capacity. However, despite the fact that it is almost impossible to find an open treadmill, many patrons don't seem to be there to workout -- most of them are obese, and the majority of the treadmills seem to run on the minimum speed settings -- .5 mph -- not fast enough for anyone to even break a sweat. I was pondering this yesterday during my jog, and it occurred to me that it is entirely possible that many of these people are using a gym membership (and the subsequent treadmill-television access) as a substitute for cable.

Bad Combinations

I like Family Guy and I like watching TV with my kids, but I do not like watching Family Guy with my kids. What are your bad combinations?

I've Made a Huge Mistake

I cannot believe we posted a photo puzzler the other day about the pricing strategies at a banana stand and failed to acknowledge the most delicious fact about the situation: There's always money in the banana stand!

One-Second Commercials

I remember as a kid growing up watching TV, every once in a while someone at the station would make a mistake and start the wrong commercial. It would run for a second or two, and then the person in charge would realize the mistake and immediately cut to some other commercial or to the actual show.

A Very Interesting Paragraph From …

Meantime, over the past two quarters, the number of U.S. households that subscribe to cable and other paid TV services fell for the first time since the dawn of cable - by about 335,000 households out of about 100 million, according to data provider SNL Kagan.

Here Is Your Mother

In a previous post, I asked why the writers of the TV show House chose for last week's episode ("A Pox on our House") to have a sick family composed of a recently married husband and wife who each bring to the marriage a child from a previous relationship.

A House Puzzler

Here's a puzzler for people who have seen the latest episode of the TV show House.

Homer Simpson: A True Catholic?

This just in from the Vatican's daily broadsheet: "Few people know it, and he does everything he can to hide it, but it is true: Homer J. Simpson is a Catholic."

Time for That LCD TV?

A recent article from the Chicago Tribune reported "an enormous surplus of LCD panels that has accumulated over the first nine months of the year." This surplus arose partly because prices of flat-screen TVs had not fallen throughout much of the year-and the quantity demanded had accordingly been constant.

The Prisoner's Dilemma Makes a Reality TV Appearance

Once in a while, something happens in the real world that brings a flurry of e-mail to the Freakonomics office. If, for instance, the Prisoner's Dilemma, or at least a version thereof, makes an appearance on a network TV show.