In the US, the survey found that 73% of adults ages 18 to 24 and 50% of adults ages 25 to 59 consider social networking sites as a source of entertainment. The majority of respondents also believe social networking sites provide better value than music, gaming, and television companies.
“If social networks have just become a form of entertainment, it becomes that much more of a challenge for the entertainment industry to articulate its value-for-money proposition,” said Gail Becker, president of Edelman's Western region. “At the same time, it opens up a variety of channels, resources, and opportunities for entertainment companies to engage with a variety of stakeholders.”
She added that it isn't just that social networking sites are being viewed as entertainment, but that consumers are increasingly going online specifically to be entertained. Forty-two percent of adults ages 18 to 34 look most frequently to the Web for entertainment, up from 27% in 2009, the survey found. Among all age groups, 32% of respondents go to the Web for entertainment, behind only watching television at 58%.
“The Internet is no longer just viewed for its traditional role, which was as a source of information,” said Becker. “This is significant to not only the entertainment industry, but all companies that produce content. The notion of entertainment just got a lot bigger.”
The survey also asked about privacy, and found an overwhelming majority are not willing to give up their personal information to access free entertainment. In terms of the most significant issue for the entertainment industry, 65% of US respondents said it is the ability to access content across different devices.
Trust in entertainment companies among adults 18 to 34 is also at a three-year high—34%, up from 17% the year prior. “It is not that the figure is artificially high, it was just that last year it was at its lowest level since we started the survey,” Becker said.