Earlier this week, I started to book travel plans for my family's West Coast summer vacation. As a JetBlue (NASDAQ:JBLU) admirer for the last couple of years, I went ahead and bought flight tickets for our June trek.

After receiving my online confirmation and selecting my seats, I had the option of checking out the content programming schedule during our flight. Yes, with every seat equipped with News Corp.'s (NYSE:NWS) DirecTV, I know that my children won't be bored tuning into Viacom's (NYSE:VIA) Nickelodeon or one of the four Disney (NYSE:DIS) ESPN channels during the long haul to Long Beach.

We're spoiled, aren't we? As a kid, I was lucky if the stewardess had a spare deck of playing cards around. I was served cold chicken -- and was grateful. My kids? They'll scream bloody murder if they have to down risotto with a spork! Then again, I may be dating myself when I say that the planes I flew in did so under the Eastern logo.

Yet here we are, living in times in which JetBlue can't afford to just be dirt cheap; it has to be a personalized court jester between runways. And if that's not enough content for you, it will be installing access to 100 channels of digital broadcasts from XM Satellite Radio (NASDAQ:XMSR) in the near future.

The business of pleasure
Entertainment? It's booming business, don't you think?

Some of David Gardner's best-performing picks from the popular Motley Fool Stock Advisor have been companies such as Marvel (NYSE:MVL), Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) that prey on satisfying our desire to be entertained.

How else could TiVo (NASDAQ:TIVO) have grown past the million-subscriber mark if not for our perpetual quest for the remedy to boredom? How else do you explain Netflix stock becoming a 10-bagger over the past 15 months? Some of last year's best performers were Sohu (NASDAQ:SOHU), NetEase (NTES), and Sina (NASDAQ:SINA). All three earned their wings by providing mobile phone text messaging. In China.

All around the world we're smitten by the prospects of taking it easy. As investors, it's prudent to study the trends to profit from the leisure-hungry slackers that we have become -- even if it means that we are doing so from the comfort of our La-Z-Boy (NYSE:LZB) recliners.

One huge trend has been the move to provide targeted programming. As urban legend has it, eccentric millionaire Howard Hughes bought television stations like KLAS in Las Vegas just so he could call up the general managers and request late-night flicks to appease his bouts with insomnia. It seems silly now, but back then all you had was a couple of channels and a television set donning rabbit ears.

It's different now. Thanks to satellite and digital cable, you may very well have hundreds of programming choices at any given time. Try to buy a new car next year without having the 100 channels of XM or rival Sirius Satellite Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI) pitched your way.

That's fine. Splintered programming means that everyone gets what they want. Recipients get the specialized content they crave while sponsors are able to more effectively target their audiences. With the content slices cut so many ways these days, it's amazing that there is even a mainstream anymore.

If the argument sounds familiar, maybe it's because it also pumped up the dot-com bubble a few years ago. Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you. However, the same premise applies: Specialized content will win premiums from advertisers that want the most receptive audience possible for their specialized products and services.

Incidentally, it's working just nicely in the Internet. Few sectors are booming like content-targeted text ad providers. Overture got acquired by Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO). FindWhat.com (NASDAQ:FWHT) shares have more than quadrupled over the past two years. Everybody is waiting for Google to go public in the coming months.

Selling boredom's antidote
It's not as easy as throwing a dart at a list of leisure stocks, though it's good fun if you can swing it. You have to know why Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) is rocking while Circuit City (NYSE:CC) is reeling. You have to understand that while companies such as Blockbuster (NYSE:BBI) and Hollywood Entertainment (NASDAQ:HLYW) are struggling, they are doing so because companies such as Netflix are just doing their job so much better.

Even though the INVESCO Leisure Fund (ILSAX) returned just 23% last year, there are greater opportunities out there for those who buy and sell their own entertainment stocks. There have been plenty of winners already and one can only imagine that the sector's prospects will continue to improve for the deserving companies as the economy continues to grow and disposable income keeps expanding.

The tire kicking can't get much better than the clear mandate of going out and having a good time. Discover the companies that you rely on for entertainment. Then, run them through the data-crunching meat grinder to make sure that the fundamentals are fit to be the designated driver for the ride back home.

So you want to find some big winners in 2004? Sure. Who doesn't? Well, you can subscribe to Stock Advisor and see if David Gardner has another promising leisure stock or two in the months to come. Or take a different route and just relax. Just remember, take notes when you take a load off. There might be money to be made in the diversion.

Rick Aristotle Munarriz doesn't own a La-Z-Boy, but he may have taken a leisurely stroll or two for column inspiration. Rick owns shares of Netflix, Hollywood Entertainment, and Disney. Rick's stock holdings can be viewed online, as can the Fool's disclosure policy.