Our content is free. When you purchase through links on our site, we earn a commission. Learn more

Cost of Entertainment Per Hour

Cost of entertainment per hour is a fairly simple concept that we covered in our article “Watching Netflix on the Nintendo Wii” but we are going to cover it a bit more in-depth.  Most prices that you see throughout your day are generally arbitrary (as far as you’re concerned).

You go to a grocery store and pick between a can of store-brand soup for $1.00 or Campbell’s soup for $1.50, but how do you compare them?  The uninformed consumer in this situation will immediately think “the store brand is cheaper.”

In what regard is that soup cheaper?  By can, yes, you’re right, but what if the Campbell’s soup has 16 ounces while the store brand has 8 ounces?  Now which one is cheaper to you?  To take it a bit further: What if the Campbell’s soup only has 400 calories in the 16 ounce can, but the store brand has 800 calories?

Now we’ve got a couple of different comparisons!  Per can, the store brand is cheaper; per ounce, Campbell’s is cheaper; but by gauging “calories per dollar” the store brand is cheaper.  What we’re getting at is that you have to gauge things in order to see what is truly cheaper.

Enough Soup, Entertainment Now

Undoubtedly, you’re wondering what soup has to do with entertainment.  The answer is, nothing.  What we’re trying to say is that even though the total package might look cheaper, it may not be based on different scales.  Now let’s consider entertainment.  There are lots of different types of entertainment out there like movie theaters, bowling, bike riding, canoeing, and mini-golfing.  We’ll use some of the prices around us to illustrate the lessons.

Upfront Costs

Many forms of entertainment have huge upfront costs, but looks are definitely deceiving.  My wife and I purchased our two bicycles for $300.00.  That’s a relatively high upfront cost for many people.  We could have done any number of things, but we decided to purchase the bicycles.  Having to estimate, I’d say we’ve easily ridden on our bicycles for over 24 hours each.  That is a combined 48 hours between my wife and I, which brings our bicycles’ cost per hour down to $6.25.  That’s cheaper than movie ticket!

The great thing is that this cost will continue to decline.  Such is the nature of high upfront costs for entertainment.  Other ones would include many of your sports like golf, hockey, baseball, and lots of arts and crafts.  You pay a high upfront cost, but you get far more hours of entertainment out of them.

Constant Costs

Constant costs, for the lack of a better term, is how we’ll describe entertainment that you always have to pay for, and usually get a set unit of entertainment.  This can be games of bowling, a movie at the theater, a round of mini-golf, etc.  These are cheaper up front, but in the long run tend to cost a fortune that pales in comparison to the initial upfront costs of the above section.  Constant costs are great as a one-off trip, but will gradually cost you more and more.  In fact, due to inflation, they will generally only get more expensive.

To further exemplify this point we will provide a table below (based off of one person for simplicity):

ActivityInitial CostHours EstimateEntertainment
Per Hour
Movie Theater$9.001.75$5.14Price typically increases
Bowling Game$111.5$7.33 
Bike Riding$150.0024$6.25One person, price typically decreases
Share This