By Victoria McNally
When it comes to TV show recommendations, new research suggests that Americans are almost twice as likely to trust random social media users over professional critics.
While investigating the recommendation pop-culture habits of 2,000 respondents U.S. residents, a recent poll discovered that only 9% say they regularly turn to critics for advice on what to watch, read, or play.
Instead, respondents cited close friends (47%), family members (44%), streaming platform algorithms (21%), and even “social media users” (18%) before critics.
And while five out of every six people will explore other peoples’ reviews online, more of them 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, which was conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Element Electronics, also found that just under seven in 10 people (68%) will check out a new title within a few weeks of it being recommended — and at least one in ten (11%) will do it as soon as possible.
But those who will sit down with their friend to watch something should be wary of how they behave during the screening, as many respondents noted.
“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,” said one respondent.
“I want someone who answers my questions but not someone who gives the whole plot away,” another echoed.
Interestingly, men are more willing to overlook this entertainment faux pas; 47% said they enjoy the experience of watching a friend’s favorite TV show or movie with them for the first time, compared to only 39% of women who said the same.
Men also identified themselves being more proactive with their own recommendations, (24% offer them up so “all the time” compared to 14% of women who said the same) and more inclined to write their own reviews online (72% vs 63% of women).
But be wary of how often you repeat those recommendations: 35% of respondents said that the more they’re told they would enjoy something, the less likely they are to actually seek it out.
Another 15% admitted that 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.," said Vlad Kazhdan, president of Element Electronics.
Meanwhile, women also reported being far less likely to judge someone else based on what they recommended (42% vs 33%) — and were much less likely to be turned off by repeat recommendations, too (35% vs 25%).
Currently, film, television and streaming video appears to be the most popular forms of entertainment among respondents — 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 added. "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."
Still, 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% said they tell people to start with the book first.
WHO DO PEOPLE TRUST FOR RECOMMENDATIONS?
- Close friends - 47%
- Close family members - 44%
- Significant others - 26%
- Casual friends - 24%
- Streaming platform algorithms (i.e. Netflix) - 21%
- Social media users - 19%
- Coworkers - 18%
- Acquaintances - 15%
- Critics - 9%
- Celebrities or influencers - 7%
WHERE DO PEOPLE WRITE THE MOST REVIEWS?
- Amazon - 35%
- YouTube - 32%
- Goodreads - 14%
- Reddit - 15%
- Rotten Tomatoes - 13%
- Steam - 11%
- IMDB - 10%
- Letterboxd - 9%
- Metacritic - 5%