Most Americans Tune Out Red Carpet Coverage, Poll Finds

photographers red carpet - Getty - H 2019
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Also: About 22 percent of respondents think it's "old fashioned" to ask women what they're wearing on the red carpet.

It may not matter that much which designer a star chooses to wear at an awards show. A majority of Americans don’t watch red carpet coverage, according to a new Hollywood Reporter/Morning Consult poll, conducted Feb. 1 to Feb. 3 from a national sample of 2,203 adults.

About 44 percent “never” watch red carpet coverage before the award show starts and an additional 25 percent “rarely” watch. Only 6 percent often or always tune in to the fashion. For example, about 60 percent of respondents had heard “nothing at all” about the Fiji Water Girl who photobombed the Golden Globes red carpet and went viral on social media (later appearing on CBS' The Late Late Show With James Corden). 

Hollywood stylist Jennifer Austin says people are turning to social media for more intimate behind-the-scenes coverage, opposed to traditional media outlets. “We now live in the world of instant gratification, so it's easier just to go online,” notes the stylist to Angela Bassett.

Still, 34 percent of Americans are strongly or somewhat interested in what women wear on the carpet, compared with 19 percent for menswear, according to the poll. Austin explains why: Women have more options and opportunities to take fashion risks on the carpet.

Fashion stylist Lulu Bernard adds that viewers are more likely to take a look at women’s red carpet looks than men’s due to the variety of style and color that comes with dresses and gowns. “Traditionally, women have a lot more freedom when it comes to design and color, while men’s formal suiting hasn’t changed much in the last 100 years,” she says.

Bernard points to actors like Timothee Chalamet — who pushed boundaries at the Golden Globes in a sparkly Louis Vuitton “bib” harness — that are “bending the rules and breaking traditions. I can’t wait to see what he does next, simply because I know it will be something I haven’t seen before,” she says. “I’m all for breaking rules and pushing the limits! Gotta take risks to be remembered!” (Her client, Gaten Matarazzo of Netflix's Stranger Things, stood out at the Emmys for donning a mustard-hued Dolce & Gabbana jacket). 

Only one in 10 people have purchased a product after seeing a star wear it at an awards show, the poll found, meaning that lucrative designer partnerships with stars may not be worth it for brands. Stars can earn $200,000 per red carpet, while overall deals — like Emma?Stone’s Louis Vuitton ambassadorship, perhaps — could be worth $10 million if they include a fragrance, THR has reported. More than half of Americans said there’s no difference whether they’ll buy a product if a star shows it off at an event like the Oscars or Grammys.

Though most aren’t checking out fashion moments in Hollywood, it’s not because they think the coverage is sexist, the poll showed (less than a quarter said it is sexist). When asked whether it is "old fashioned to ask women what they’re wearing on the red carpet," the results were mixed. Some 22 percent of respondents agreed that the question was old fashioned, while 38 percent disagreed. 

"Red carpet shows need to change their approach if they are looking to attract more eyeballs,” says Morning Consult vp Tyler Sinclair. "When viewers watch award shows, the preshow coverage is the least of their priorities." 

The THR/Morning Consult poll also researched Americans’ perception of the paparazzi, recently in the news for entering legal battles with stars like Gigi Hadid, who post copyrighted paparazzi photos of themselves on social media. Kim Kardashian wrote on Twitter last week, “Since the paparazzi agencies won’t allow the fans to repost, all of my pics are taken by my own photog and you guys can always repost whatever you want.”

More than half of those surveyed said paparazzi don’t act responsibly and civilly. When asked if the government should be allowed to "regulate the activities of paparazzi photographers," Americans were split. Some 43 percent of respondents agreed that legislators should regulate activity of paparazzi, while 28 percent disagreed with the sentiment. (As to whether such regulation will be widely adopted, Sam P. Israel, managing partner of the Sam P. Israel P.C. law firm in New York, adds, "I do think it’s likely that laws will be enacted to regulate paparazzi, though most states already have privacy laws.")

The survey also asked respondents whether they believed "mainstream media" was different than paparazzi. About 48 percent of respondents agreed that mainstream media was different than paparazzi, while 29 percent disagreed.