No more movie critics? Americans twice as likely to listen to social media for TV recommendations than ‘experts’

NEW YORK — When it comes to TV show recommendations, a new poll suggests Americans are twice as likely to trust random social media users over professional critics.

While investigating the recommendation pop-culture habits of 2,000 U.S. residents, researchers discovered that only nine percent say they regularly turn to critics for advice on what to watch, read, or play. For comparison, 18 percent say they would rather go with the opinion of a random commenter online.

In friends we trust when it comes to TV shows

What to WatchInstead, respondents say they prefer the opinions of close friends (47%), family members (44%), and even streaming platform algorithms (21%) over critics. In fact, five out of six people will explore other peoples’ reviews online for TV viewing insight. Researchers find more of these people turn to user-driven spaces like YouTube (50%) and Amazon (46%) over established review aggregators, such as Rotten Tomatoes (24%) or Metacritic (6%).

The survey, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Element Electronics, also reveals just under seven in 10 people (68%) will check out a new title within a few weeks of it being recommended. At least one in ten (11%) will do it as soon as possible.

However, those who will sit down with their friend to watch something should be wary of how they behave during the screening, many respondents say.

“I like being able to share in the experience, but I don’t like if they start giving me hints or pointing things out to me if they have already seen it,” one respondent admits.

“I want someone who answers my questions but not someone who gives the whole plot away,” another American says.

Interestingly, men are more willing to overlook this entertainment faux pas; 47 percent said they enjoy the experience of watching a friend’s favorite TV show or movie with them for the first time. Only 39 percent of women said the same.

OK I’ll watch it, now ‘leave me alone!’

Men also identified themselves as being more proactive with their own recommendations. One in four (24%) say they offer up their TV opinions “all the time” in comparison to just 14 percent of women who said the same. Men are also more inclined to write their own reviews online (72% vs 63%).

Researchers note Americans should be wary of how often they repeat those TV recommendations. Thirty-five percent of respondents said the more they’re told they would enjoy something, the less likely they are to actually watch that program. Another 15 percent admit they’ve agreed to watch a friend’s recommendation for the sole purpose of getting that friend to “leave them alone.”

“We all love to suggest a new TV show or movie to our friends, but with the amount of content available now, it’s unrealistic to expect everyone you know to watch your favorite show,” says Vlad Kazhdan, president of Element Electronics, in a statement.

Meanwhile, women also reported being far less likely to judge someone else based on what they recommend (42% vs 33%). Females are also much less likely to be turned off by repeat recommendations (35% vs 25%).

Is the book really better?

What to WatchCurrently, film, television, and streaming videos appear to be the most popular forms of entertainment among respondents. Over three in four (77%) have watched TV regularly over the last six months, according to the data.

Forty-four percent also said that if they could only pick one form of media for the rest of their lives, they’d pick video over audio, text-based, or interactive formats.

“With all the recent advances in technology and streaming platforms, we have thousands of options of media to consume,” Kazhdan adds. “For those who want to catch up on as much as possible, having a TV with a built-in streaming option is ideal — they give you access to 500,000 TV shows and movies, so you can watch almost anything your friends suggest to you.”

Despite this, the best TV series still can’t hold a candle to its source material; when recommending a widely adapted or well-known story (such as Stephen King’s “The Shining”), 31 percent said they still tell people to start with the book first.

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About the Author

Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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