Survey says showbiz faces credibility problem

Showbiz has a big credibility problem with the Gen-Y set.

Entertainment companies — broadly defined as Hollywood studios, TV outlets, vidgame and music companies and online social-media firms — rank just above insurance companies at the bottom of a new survey of young adults’ attitudes toward 12 major business sectors. Banks, health care, packaged goods companies — heck, even the pharmaceutical industry — scored higher than entertainment.

The online survey, commissioned by PR giant Edelman and conducted by Gotham-based research firm StrategyOne, polled 502 adults in the 18-34 age range on how much they “trust” various businesses to “do what is right” and “provide good or bad value for money” spent on their products and services. Among forms of entertainment, movies fared best on the trust meter, with 59% of respondents saying they provide good bang for the buck. Surprisingly, for this demo, suspicion runs deep about online social-media firms, with only 39% of respondents seeing a value proposition there. (Wait a minute, aren’t most of those things free?) Television came in at 56%, followed by vidgames (55%) and music (53%).

Technology was the most-trusted field, with 77% of respondents rating it favorably. (Doesn’t anybody remember the tech wreck of 2000-01?) Biotech/life sciences (65%) and automotive (62%) rounded out the top three.

Entertainment companies, including Hollywood’s majors, mustered only 53% of the popular vote, compared to the insurance industry’s 45%.

The implications of all this distrust are significant: Nearly half, or 47% of respondents, say they’re inclined to refuse to buy the products of showbiz shingles that they distrust, while 46% of respondents say they’re likely to bad-mouth those products and companies by sharing “my negative opinion and experiences with people I know.”

More significantly for the long term, when some of today’s 18- to 34-year-olds will be subscribing to the Wall Street Journal and playing the stock market, 41% of respondents said they would refuse to invest in entertainment companies they distrust.

It all sounds very troubling for the earnings reports of Time Warner, News Corp., Disney, et al. circa 2016.

But then again, some of the survey results call into question the veracity of the answers given by respondents. Some 63% of those polled said they’d never downloaded illegal content from the Internet. Only 12% copped to having shared files illegally. And a mere 15% fessed up to having ripped and burned some kind of content via the Web without paying for it.

It just doesn’t add up, does it? Maybe some of those randomly selected young adults suspected that a survey dubbed “Trust in Entertainment Companies” had actually been commissioned by “The Colbert Report.”

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