Research launched today by Edelman, the world’s largest independent public relations firm, shows that consumers believe social networks provide a higher value experience compared with other forms of entertainment. Edelman’s annual Trust in the Entertainment Industry survey, now in its fourth year, also reveals that the Internet, as a source of entertainment, is second only to television. The survey of 1,000 18-54 year olds in the United States and United Kingdom analyzes the issues that influence consumer trust in entertainment companies.

In the US, the rise of the Internet as a frequent source of entertainment is most dramatic in the 18-34 group, rising from 27 percent in 2009 to 42 percent in 2010. In the US, 32 percent of 18-54 year olds look most frequently to the Web for entertainment (compared with 58 percent watching TV). The Internet also ranked second in the UK, with 30 percent turning to the Web most frequently, compared with 57 percent watching TV.

Social Entertainment

Seventy-three percent of 18-24 year olds in the US and 61 percent in the UK see social networks as a form of entertainment. Fifty percent (US) and 56 percent (UK) of respondents aged 35-49 also consider social networking sites as a form of entertainment. Despite the growth of social entertainment, consumers do not currently identify Internet brands as entertainment companies.

While social networking sites may not yet be recognized as entertainment companies, they are leading the way in terms of adding value to the consumer experience of entertainment. The majority of respondents in both the US and UK felt that social networking sites provide better value than music, gaming and television companies.

Gail Becker, President of Edelman’s Western region comments, “While not surprising that TV tops the list, seeing the Internet rank second as a source of entertainment – evolving from its origins as a source of information – is significant. We believe that all companies today exist in this new era that we call social entertainment and we will continue to see its influence on how consumers and companies engage with entertainment and with each other.”

The study also reveals consumer attitudes towards the exchange of personal information in return for free entertainment. Eighty nine percent of those in the UK say they would not be willing to give up personal information to access free entertainment.

Jonathan Hargreaves, Managing Director of Technology, Edelman, Europe adds: “The study shows that consumers do value privacy but perhaps they are not considering the personal information that they already distribute freely via social networks. Social entertainment impacts the role of privacy – both in how individuals behave online but also in terms of how entertainment companies use customer information. This new era has created a shift in the trust dynamic and businesses must consider the implications of this in order to nurture future trust in a brand.”

Freedom of Content

In the 2008 study, free content was the dominant issue. This year’s study shows it is the ability to access content across devices, not cost, that is of significance to consumers.

– 65 percent of US respondents think it is important that they are able to access their entertainment on a number of different devices

– 59 percent of UK respondents think it is important that they are able to access their entertainment on a number of different devices

– 58 percent (US) and 53 percent (UK) of consumers state they would be willing to pay for content if they were able to move it across devices

Spending

Spending on entertainment continues to stay strong according to this year’s results.
On average, US respondents spend $47 per month on entertainment content
On average, UK respondents spend 25 pounds Sterling per month on entertainment content
83 percent of US and 76 percent of UK consumers state that ease of purchase influences their decision to pay for content
In the UK consumers who think social networking is a form of entertainment are more likely to have spent more money on entertainment in the last year

Impact on Trust

- Those that state that they trust entertainment companies are also more willing to pay for content

- Quality (65 percent US and 58 percent UK) and Pricing (65 percent US and 58 percent UK) have the most impact on consumer trust

- 32 percent of UK consumers and 28 percent of US consumers trust entertainment companies
Trust was at a three-year high among those aged 18-34

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