Views of media change in US, UK

27 May 2011

NEW YORK: The rise of digital platforms like social networks and mobile media are undermining the "value" consumers place on entertainment content, a study in the US and UK has found.

Edelman, the PR network, surveyed 517 Americans aged between 18 and 54 years old, and 500 of their British counterparts.

Television still acts as the most frequently used entertainment channel, afforded such a status by 49% of the UK group and 47% of Americans.

However, TV witnessed contractions of 8% and 11% in turn, suggesting that its long-held pre-eminence is being challenged by the web, which retained second position overall.

Just 17% of the sample agreed operators including movie studios and producers, music companies, gaming specialists, cable and satellite TV providers supplied "very good" or "excellent" value.

Figures here hit 16% for the UK, down from 24% on an annual basis and 18% in the US, measured against 34% a year ago.

"A lower perception of value in the entertainment industry represents the commoditised nature of today's entertainment," Gail Becker, president of Edelman's western US region, said.

"With so many forms of entertainment, consumers are spreading their attention across multiple platforms - leading to a decline in perceived value in any one format."

Social networks constituted the sole medium assessed to "remain stable" on this metric, with 31% of Britons and 37% of Americans awarding these properties a favourable rating.

More broadly, 57% of people from the US and 45% in the UK saw sites like Facebook and Twitter as an entertainment channel.

Elsewhere, 53% of the American panel devoted greater amounts of time to laptops during the last 12 months and 52% supported such a statement for mobile phones.

Totals reached 59% and 49% respectively for the British audience, indicating a consistency in the two markets.

Equally, a 52% majority in both nations would like to access more entertainment material through a computer, standing at 30% regarding wireless handsets.

This latter score reached 43% for 18-29 year olds, compared with 28% for 30-44 year olds and 21% concerning 45-54 year olds.

Upon discussing the potential shift from free to paid-for entertainment, 88% of US contributors and 84% of UK interviewees adopted a negative attitude.

Alongside feelings of "frustration" and "distrust", the primary issues revolved around a lack of improvement to services and profit-motivated "greed" among content providers.

By contrast, only 4% of Britons expressed positive opinions about the roll out of fee-based models, sliding to 3% in the US.

The main factors customers consider when making purchases in this area incorporate visual and sound quality, mentioned by 86%, and the ability to enjoy material via various devices, on 48%.

Becoming "one of the first" people to exploit new sources posted 41%, but lodged double-digit decreases for the US and UK cohorts.

"The paywall is not a simple solution to the value problem plaguing the entertainment industry," said Becker.

"Rather, it should be viewed as an opportunity to effectively articulate the value it represents for consumers rather than just explaining the business rationale for it."

Data sourced from Edelman; additional content by Warc staff