March 6, 2014
Most of you have probably heard about sunk cost but being reminded about some core fallacies can be good from time to time. I’m since long well aware of the sunk cost fallacy but as you’ll see I’m still very much fallible.
A new TV series starts airing and I watch the first episode. It turns out to be so-so. Not great, but not a complete waste of time either. So I decide to give it another shot the next week. It doesn’t really get any better but I still have hope for it. The cast indicates that there should be more to it than this, so I keep watching the darn thing for a couple of more weeks. Now, it’s beginning to bother me that I’m still watching the show since it doesn’t give me anything but since I’ve already seen the first five episodes I might as well stick with it to the season finale. Then all of a sudden the network decides to cancel the show prematurely. The bastards!!! How dare they? Hey, I was watching that!
The truth is that the network did what I should have done after the very first episode, they cut their losses and decided for another future. They came to the same conclusion that I (and probably most other viewers) did; that the show was crap. But instead of loosing any more of their precious air time, they decided to cancel the show and try to make money on something else.
The rational decision for us is to ignore the previous investment and look at what marginal gains we have from choosing an alternate path. Mine would have been to give another TV series a chance or perhaps read a book instead. The time I had wasted on the show was already spent and I won’t get more value from it by wasting more time. The network having spent big bucks on procuring a new show, have to disregard this investment when the audience fail to show up and instead look for something new to fill their schedule with. Which was exactly what they did. Pissing me off was the sound decision, for both of us. So thank you TV network for cancelling the show I was watching, I should have known better.