by Devanshu Mehta
Netflix used to recommend movies and shows to customers based on how they rated other movies.
Five stars for Truffaut? Why don’t you try a Renoir?
Two stars to American Pie? Clearly you don’t want to watch American Pie 2.
Or do you?
Over time, Netflix discovered that ratings are “aspirational”. Our ratings reflect our best image of ourselves. They don’t reflect how we actually want to spend our time.
We may rate all Satyajit Ray movies five stars, but when we have a tight window of ninety minutes between when the kids went to sleep and when we really need to get to bed, we’re not going to watch Fellini. We’ll watch American Pie 2.
Test cricket is also, I believe, aspirational. If you ask the average person, they will want tests to exist, even if they don’t watch. For those of us that love it, our love for it is something that maintains our self-image. It is part of who we are.
This doesn’t necessarily mean we will stay up tonight to watch New Zealand play Bangladesh. It just means that we will sleep better knowing that we live in a world where New Zealand is playing Bangladesh.
Cricket in England is increasingly anomalous. There remains a strong demand for “a day at the cricket” which sees Tests and ODIs sold out with many in the ground giving cricket their only serious attention all year on that day. These cricket fans won’t know New Zealand are touring Bangladesh. Their day at the cricket is about consumption and sits alongside playing one round of golf each year, dining at their town’s new restaurant and other indicators of affluence. It is therefore an aspirational interest, but not in the way you describe (which I agree does also exist). The puzzle for me is why the other wealthy cricket playing nations – Australia and New Zealand – don’t also benefit from these day-trippers wanting to tick-off ‘cricket’ on their things to be seen doing checklist.
Very good to see you blogging regularly.