From time to time the basket of stuff used to calculate the official measures of inflation is updated to best reflect a typical spending pattern. The latest update saw something of a watershed moment. For the first time the Consumer Price Index basket contains items which depend on good, reliable broadband, so now inflation touches the cloud.
Out went DVD players – in came Netflix.
Why is this important?
The CPI is not a predictor of the future, it’s a descriptor of the now. The change says that high quality commercial streaming services are a common item in UK consumers’ shipping basket. That Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sky’s Now.TV, etc are mainstream and not a fringe activity of the gadget generation.
It speaks to those that were critical of the decision to make BBC3 an online-only channel. The reality is that streaming is normal and that the key audience for BBC3 is the demographic most at home online. The BBC didn’t get a little more white, make and middle class, as was claimed by critics; it simply reflected the shift in society that the CPI is now confirming.
This small change in the way we measure inflation in the UK should shout at policy makers and commentators with any doubts about the value society puts on broadband, that fast internet is a key infrastructure that underpins consumer spending today, now.