Emotional Connections Are the Ultimate End Game
To understand your fans you need to not only think like one but also be one at heart. Today, it’s no longer enough to just broadcast into a viewer’s living room at a specific time once a week. Fans are everywhere and they’re consuming the programs they love when they want to, how they want to, and on the platforms and devices that appeal to them most. From what’s trending to what really matters, this behavior is exerting the biggest influence on the cultural conversation happening right this moment, right now.
Technology has also empowered fans so that passive viewership is no longer enough. With content available on multiple platforms, streaming continuously around the clock, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, we need people to actively choose our brands and shows with greater intention. Our job is to do more than simply attract viewers. It’s not just about cultivating fans—but fans who live, love, and breathe the characters and storylines we create.
When people think of Viacom, they assume we’re the sum total of our parts: various cable networks, a film studio, a stable of movies and shows, and the corporation under which they all sit. But when we think about what powers our brands, it’s the fans themselves that drive, inspire, and impact everything we do.
Fans tattoo their body with RuPaul quotes, put SpongeBob in their runway collection, and have Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle themed weddings. Fans take their favorite character or franchise and make it their own, becoming part of its overall cultural thread.
The Power of Putting Fans First
Through this deep connection, we continue to empower our audiences to not just watch, but to own and shape the context in which it’s delivered.In fact, this been a driving force behind so many things we’ve done this year.
We gave them a voice: The 2016 MTV Movie Awards promos were dictated by fans who were given carte blanche to have the stars do whatever they wanted in the TV spots.
We brought back their fan-favorites: Comic-Con attendees got a chance to rub shoulders with Nickelodeon All That stars Kel Mitchell and Kenan Thompson during a special screening of the new Legends of the Hidden Temple movie.
We invited them to get creative: Comedy Central’s Broad City got artsy with a public painting party in Brooklyn that was capped off by a group mural dedicated to the show.
Your Fans Might Surprise You
It’s also important to remember that while the emotional connection is the end game, data is the path to get us there. Dedicated research can help unlock insights that allow brands and fans to form critical bonds. (After all, media impressions don’t mean nearly as much if there’s no emotional attachment behind them.)
For example, it could be assumed that most young men watch sports programming on TV. Our team dug into this segment and found a large contingent of young male viewers that had no interest in sports programming and are light TV watchers (on average, just 16 minutes a day). However, while they may not watch a lot of TV, when they do it’s Comedy Central that earns their full attention. Even more, these guys are turning to YouTube, Snapchat, and Hulu for their Comedy Central fix, generating over 1 billion views last year. This proves that the power of data allows us to dig deeper and look beyond outdated stereotypes.
Ultimately, this data-led approach is what allows the Viacom team to deliver products that inspire and empower the future of fan experience and engagement. There’s a paradigm shift happening in viewership and content creation. If there’s one thing we’re sure of, it’s that the fans are steering the ship and it’s our job to help them navigate the journey ahead.