NCTA — The Internet & Television Association

Knowing Your Audience Is the Key to ViacomCBS’s Success

Knowing Your Audience Is the Key to ViacomCBS’s Success


These days, TV viewers have more options of shows to watch than ever. So how does a TV network decide what shows to produce? While the decision-making process is complex, networks like ViacomCBS have one powerful tool at hand: audience research.

At ViacomCBS, researchers serve as deep strategic partners to brands and businesses. With teams embedded across networks like BET, MTV, or Nickelodeon, ViacomCBS researchers work in constant partnership with programming strategists. Knowing the ins-and-outs of MTV, for example, allows for more precise information gathering, better understanding of viewers, and informed decision-making. This enables the network to imagine and produce shows that audiences can’t wait to watch.

Research tactics, like polling a sample of viewers, can provide insights into why certain viewers are or are not tuning into programs. It can also go a step further, by helping networks understand how a viewer’s complex identity might influence their viewing habits. By focusing research on shared values and lived experiences, data can start to shine a light on how a community views itself and what they want to see reflected on TV.

For example, a recent ViacomCBS study found that despite a rise in LGBTQ+ characters on screen, only 41% of LGBTQ+ respondents said they felt represented in the current state of advertising. That data led researchers to discover that 53% of respondents felt they only became part of the advertising equation during Pride Month in June, demonstrating that viewers are turned off when they feel pandered to. Conversely, researchers discovered when brands made an effort to actively support and engage the LGBTQ+ community, respondents were much more likely to champion them. In fact, 76% said they would give more of their business to brands who actively support LGBTQ+ equality.

By knowing where to focus, ViacomCBS researchers are able to provide programmers with data that ensures audiences are viewing high quality content that reflects who they are and the world they live in. Whether it’s Logo, Nickelodeon, BET, MTV, or another ViacomCBS network, the Global Insights team wants audiences to feel at home in their favorite shows.