Fans love what they love. But why do they love it? Is it personal? Cultural? Biological? Is it defined by their personality and how they see themselves? Or, is it driven by what’s happening in the world around them? To answer these questions, Viacom’s Global Consumer Insights team set out to conduct a series of explorations designed to shed light on how and why fans relate to the TV shows and movies they love.
Leveraging Viacom’s best-in-class research and data capabilities, the team behind Fan Theory created a series of data visualization tools and visual stories that looked at fans from a cultural, psychographic, and neurological perspective. As a result, the team was able to identify several key learnings that helped to bring into focus the correlation between how being a fan of something can impact everything from our own biology to culture at large.
“Viacom is committed to understanding audiences in new ways to form deeper connections with fans that have breadth and depth,” explains Christian Kurz, SVP of Global Consumer Insights at Viacom. “Fan Theory is an exploration that looks at the relationship between fans and the stories they love from a cultural, attitudinal, and neurological perspective. In collaboration with data scientists and neuroscientists, we were able to build a strong framework around each of these perspectives that offer unique insights into why audiences connect with the content they love and the effects of fandom.”
The project was broken down into three key areas:
1. The Intersection of Stories and Culture
Does culture influence what we see on TV and in the movies, or do the stories themselves create a ripple effect that feeds into our cultural psyche? The team looked at thematic trends within top TV shows and films over a 50-year span and mapped it against a cultural timeline to explore the relationship between culture and content.
2. You Are What You Love
Do our personal attitudes and beliefs play into what we watch on TV? From dramas to sports programming, the team was able to create a working framework that revealed the relationship between the different stories we love and what they say about who we are as individuals.
3. Inside the Brain of a Fan
Can fandom elicit a biological response? Using South Park as a stimulus, the team joined forces with a group of neuroscientists so they could measure and monitor the neurological response of both fans and non-fans of the show. What they found helped to piece together a complex picture of how a fan’s brain activity differs from that of a non-fan when exposed to their favorite content.
Interested in learning more about Fan Theory and its findings? Go to the Fan Theory website for more details.