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Study: Consumers Cautiously Mix Entertainment and Social Media

13 Jun, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel

While consumers increasingly view their entertainment (including movies and episodic programming) beyond the television on the computer and tablet, they remain reserved interacting socially about it, according to a new report.

About 50% of 1,010 respondents in a survey that PR firm Edelman conducted April 12 to 15 in the United States said they would watch ads in exchange for free programming — but they would not accept divulging personal demographic information. That percentage was up 2% from a similar group of respondents in the United Kingdom.

Of those respondents who would share a link about content they've enjoyed on a social networking site, 50% of U.K. respondents and 58% of U.S. respondents would use Facebook. Almost half of U.S. (42% ) and a third of U.K. (31%) respondents like being able to interact with entertainment, such as the ability to vote — an increase of 15% and 8%, respectively, from last year’s results.

“Over the past six years, privacy has always been the one factor that audiences are not willing to sacrifice,” said Jon Hargreaves, managing director of technology with Edelman Europe. “However, the notion of privacy and personal information is shifting. With governments looking to regulate privacy issues around the world, it is clear that entertainment companies and brands will need to continue to take the issue of privacy very seriously.”

The survey also found that when it comes to sharing opinions on entertainment content, telling a friend or family member is the dominant action. American respondents are slightly more focused on sharing content online — where 38% (vs. 29% in the United Kingdom) would “like” the content on Facebook and 29% (23% in the United Kingdom) would share a link about it on a social network. 

When audiences do comment about entertainment content online, 34% of all survey respondents comment after they have watched or listened to entertainment content, which is a little more than double the number who comment before or during (16%).

Interestingly, just 14% of U.S. respondents (and 10% of U.K. respondents) consume their entertainment on a tablet, compared with 51% on a laptop among U.S. consumers (54% among U.K. consumers).

“Two things are clear, audiences … do not want to be distracted, which is why they are more likely to comment online after viewing,” said Edelman's Gail Becker, chair of the U.S. western region, Canada and Latin America. “Social networks offer great opportunities to brands, but audiences want to remain in control, and do not want to automatically share what they are viewing.”

Separately, 20% of consumers now access online video content through a video game console, connected Blu-ray Disc player or media player, according to a new report from Frank N. Magid Associates.

The research firm reported that 21% of 2,540 respondents in a national survey connect their TV to the Internet, while another 30% said they would do so in the near future. The latter percentage indicates Web-enabled TV is moving beyond the early adopter phase to mainstream consumers.

Magid said the number of connected TV households could increase 50% annually over the next several years — action that could accelerate sales of smart TVs featuring embedded apps linking to entertainment and music options.

Such consumer behavior doesn’t bode well for traditional cable and satellite TV operators, whose subscribers could ditch expensive bundled packages in exchange for less expensive streaming options online.

“When twice as many people watch entertainment delivered by the Internet to the TV screen as do now, they’ll be less dependent on pay TV services,” Mike Voerhaus, president of Magid Advisors, told the Los Angeles Times.

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