Consumers believe social networks provide a higher value experience compared with other forms of entertainment, according to new research from Edelman. The 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 U.S., there was a dramatic rise among 18-34 year olds who cite the internet as a form of entertainment, from 27 percent in 2009 to 42 percent in 2010. And 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 U.K., with 30 percent turning to the Web most frequently, compared with 57 percent watching TV.


Almost three-quarters (73 percent) of 18-24 year olds in the U.S. and 61 percent in the U.K. 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 U.S. and U.K. felt that social networking sites provide better value than music, gaming and television companies.


According to Gail Becker, president of Edelman’s Western region: “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.”


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 U.S. respondents think it is important that they are able to access their entertainment on a number of different devices

·         59 percent of U.K. respondents think it is important that they are able to access their entertainment on a number of different devices

·         58 percent (U.S.) and 53 percent (U.K.) of consumers state they would be willing to pay for content if they were able to move it across devices