Who Exactly is Watching HBO’s New Hit Westworld?

Oct 24, 2016 | Insights

Lobby card from the 1973 film on which HBO’s new smash hit series is roughly based.

First off, to the uninitiated, please remember to check out the links at this entry’s bottom to learn a whole lot more about StatSocial and what we do.

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Once you get past the initial surprise that Jonathan Nolan — who along with his brother, director Christopher, co-wrote such films as The Prestige, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Returns — wanted to make a TV series based on Michael Crichton’s 1973 hit film, Westworld (the late, incredibly tall — no kidding, he was 6’9″ — author and filmmaker having a thing for cautionary tales centered around theme parks, having also of course written Jurassic Park), its success should come as no surprise at all.

In addition to Nolan, you have Executive Producer J.J. Abrams, who is Hollywood’s current behemoth, and stars like Anthony Hopkins and Ed Harris involved. Not to mention Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, and Jeffrey Wright. It’s not just a cast of stars, it’s a cast of respected actors.

Clearly this was not a kitsch project, for those of us who grew up thrilling to Yul Brynner’s relentless android during nights when insomnia would take hold (and who also fondly remember the Crichtonless sequel, Futureworld), and we would wonder how Richard Benjamin somehow wound up in about 60% of all 70s movies.

Our suspicion is the critical raves and word of mouth will induce many to binge watch say, over Thanksgiving weekend on HBO GO or HBO Now. The findings in this article highlight the composition of Westworld’s social media audience base, but those stats as they stand today may end up looking quite different by season’s end.

Take this entry as part one of an entry where its Futureworld, as it were is coming later this fall (to remind you of my nerdy reference, Futureworld, was the film sequel to Westworld) .

WESTWORLD’S AUDIENCE SKEWS MALE

westworld_sex

Making fun of so-called nerds is getting old, so turning this into a joke about nerds not getting girls is dumb. New York Comic Con draws a half-million people in one weekend, many of whom are female. And A-List stars attend, so this not a niche thing any longer. Beautiful girls read comic books, I’ve seen it with my own two eyes. Marvel Studios is one of the most powerful forces in Hollywood. Disney purchased Star Wars from George Lucas for billions of dollars — their first film with the property featuring a strong, well-acted female lead — and have thus far demonstrated that this was a wise investment financially and a wise narrative choice.

Our point is, the nerds are winning for the moment, and a lot of them are girls. Heck, even I thought that by far the best film I saw in 2015 — and I’m a pretentious cinéaste type — was the Mad Max movie.

But for the launch of a property such as this, the above sex breakdown is unsurprising. We suspect that especially if they feature strong female characters, and more importantly maintain a high level of quality, the balance will become more even. Women tend to gravitate toward good, well-made things first and foremost, and then worry about matters of gender or sex second.

Anyway, moving on…

PEOPLE AGED 35–44 ARE OVER-INDEXED

westworld_age

We were curious to what degree nostalgia might be drawing people in, at least at first. Half the audience, about, is of an age where they might have been fans of the film. But only a quarter is in that 35–44 sweet-spot, which I’d say extends to about 50, or so. So, over a quarter are the right age.

But nearly a third are 25–34. Maybe the flick’s on streaming, but it surely hasn’t been a TV staple for a long while. I suspect they’re coming to the series because of the names attached and the rather glowing advance buzz.

TOP 10 SOCIAL INFLUENCERS WITH WESTWORLD’S SOCIAL MEDIA AUDIENCE, BY PERCENTAGE

westworld_influencers_percentage2

In our last entry, which is really a must read, where we compare the retail chains Costco and Sam’s Club we really explain one of our more special metrics — the multiple metric (it wound up inadvertently being the crux of the entry). But after we look at this list above of the top 10 social influencers with Westworld’s fans — “social influncers” meaning, in brief, those who are especially present, active, and popular on social media — sorted by raw percentages, we’ll use it to illustrate both what the multiple metric is, and why its important.

Here, with this particular audience, a message is already being sent just from the raw numbers. Musk is enormously popular on social media, with 6 million followers on Twitter alone. But compared to the others on the list, his following — while gigantic by normal standards — is modest. The only names on the list with so “few” fans are Robert Downey, who has over a million more than Musk, and Neil deGrasse Tyson who also has six million, give or take. Those three names — and what they represent (two scientists and Iron Man) ranking so highly on a list that otherwise contains people with social media fanbases in the tens of millions, suggests quite a lot.

The percentage in the bar in blue is the percentage of the audience in question — in this case fans of Westworld — who are also fans of the corresponding line item. In this case, if we’re to focus on the first place winner, that would be Mr. Musk. The percentage in the bar in grey represents the average social media audience, and that is the baseline we use for all of our calculations unless otherwise stated or requested.

That’s where the metric to the far right comes in. Westworld’s audience is over six and a half times more likely to be fans of Mr. Musk than the average social media user.

In this case, even for Mr. Musk’s popularity, that is a rather telling statistic about this particular audience.

The President is number two. He has 78 million (!) fans on Twitter alone. This conveniently gives us an opportunity to explain how we visually represent items that are what we call “under-indexed.” Those numbers either in keeping with the average or “over-indexed” (i.e., exceeding the average) are in green. Those numbers failing to to meet the baseline, are represented in red. With this crowd the President falls just short of the average.

The length of the blue line, and whether or not, and to what to degree it intersects with the vertical dotted line is also a quick way of identifying that which has performed either above, below, or in keeping with the average.

Our point is made even more powerfully by the presence of Ellen Degeneres. Ellen is a social media powerhouse, with 43 million Twitter fans alone, and frequently appears on the most unlikely lists. But look at the degree to which this audience falls short of the average in terms of being Ellen fans.

So, the Elon Musk, JK Rowling (8 million on Twitter, with this bunch exceeding the average by three times), Bill Gates (31 million Twitter fans, and this bunch two and a half times more likely to be his fan), etc. results are what are most meaningful and telling.

We know some will see The Donald’s name there and be concerned. So, in the interest of equal time.

screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-7-31-29-am

She falls shy of the top 10 by a virtually statistically insignificant amount. Secretary Clinton’s multiple also exceeds that of Mr. Trump to a notable degree, however Mr. Trump’s percentage exceeds secretary Clinton to an equally notable degree.

Quickly moving on from that topic, and back to the matter at hand, our rapidly forming hypotheses about this audience.

In this case, we — or as we like to say, a marketer doing research — can already to a fair degree, just based on the influencer list alone, start to piece together the puzzle

But when sorted by multiple things become three-dimensional. And that is the ultimate StatSocial goal. To make a social media audience no longer just a collection of screennames, user icons, Patton Oswalt retweets, and Mashable links. We let you know who these people are.

We hope someone at HBO reads this, as we know conclusively — and believe us this is just the tip of our statistical iceberg — who is currently and consciously connecting with Westworld via social media.

Sorting all lists by multiple — in addition to raw numbers, of course — is always strongly recommended as vastly more often than not you’re only getting half the story or less otherwise. The fastest way into an audience’s heart and mind, is to see what interests are most unique to it.

TOP 10 SOCIAL INFLUENCERS WITH WESTWORLD’S SOCIAL MEDIA AUDIENCE, BY MULTIPLE

westworld_influencers_by_multiple2

I think that by 2016 most yanks who would be reading this know who Stephen Fry is. But he is regarded as a national treasure in the U.K. — a comedian (one half of the enormously popular double act, Fry & Laurie, with Hugh Laurie who of course went on to become a household name in the states with most people neither aware that he was British nor a comedian) and is no social media slouch with over 12 million fans on Twitter alone.

But be it Britain or the states, his crowd is going to tend to be a bit more educated, possibly tech savvy as he is tech obsessed, and likely educated. Evan Rachel Wood is one of show’s stars, so her presence is beyond logical.

Zack Snyder is the guy overseeing Warners’ thus far strange attempt to replicate Disney’s huge cinematic success with Marvel Comics’ properties, but with DC Comics’ characters.

Hideo Kojima is a video game designer.

Gillian Anderson is, of course, FBI Special Agent Dana Scully.

Ben Affleck is Batman.

And shame on you if we need to tell you who Mark Hamill is.

But there’s just no contesting that this list meets the expectations the percentages list more than hinted at. HBO may love it, for all we know, if the numbers are there.

Japan has a whole economy based on the nerd (or “otaku” as most people are aware). They’ll buy overpriced statues of anime characters, video games, all sorts of electronics. In Tokyo, there’s essentially a nerd district, called Akihabara. That’s where all anime ephemera, mangas (Japanese comic books), those weird tea houses where all the waitresses dress like maids, and all that stuff can be found.

While perhaps not quite so overt, and HBO doesn’t sell advertising, so their model is different, the fact remains that those given to most enjoying genre entertainments often have good jobs, and expendable incomes. A broader audience is always welcomed, but this audience seems like a great place to start.

As we move into the TV list, the number one finisher both makes perfect sense, and is rather surprising.

TOP 10 TV SHOWS WITH WESTWORLD’S AUDIENCE, BY PERCENTAGE

westworld_top10tv_percentage

With 43 million followers on Twitter alone, CNN Breaking News has an audience pretty much exactly ten-times that of Game of Thrones. As such, when sorted by percentage, it tops far more lists than not.

But here, even before we share the top TV shows sorted by multiple you can see plainly why it matters. This crowd is 26 times more likely to be down with Mr. Robot than the average social media user. And, of course, with a full 1/5 of its audience identified as fans, it’s 6 times more likely to be fans of Game of Thrones.

And then you can see what under-indexing is all about. While the raw number of Westworld audience members who are also in the audiences for How I Met Your Mother, Ellen Degeneres, or Sportscenter, are large enough to warrant their inclusion in the top 10, they are vastly below the average.

brynner_harris
As this show has been succeeding like gangbusters, right out of the chute, one has to assume a great deal more than mere nostalgia is attracting its audience. That said, it does seem that Ed Harris is assuming a Yul Brynner type role. While at one time there were rumors that the show was going to feature a CGI Brynner, there is little doubt that this is the preferable choice..

TOP 10 TV SHOWS WITH WESTWORLD’S SOCIAL MEDIA AUDIENCE, BY MULTIPLE

westworld_tvshows_by_multiple

And we see, among other things, when sorted by multiple that at least six of the shows could be described as “genre” — Mr. Robot, The Leftovers, Penny Dreadful, Game of Thrones, Daredevil, and Hannibal. Two are historical dramas, based on real life; The Knick and Peaky Blinders. And two take place explicitly in the world of tech, Halt and Catch Fire at the start of the personal computer wars in the early 80s, and Silicon Valley in the vicious, cutthroat contemporary tech world, and right at its epicenter of Palo Alto, California.

Who’s watching Westworld? We believe we already know. And if we were marketers looking at these stats, as opposed to the awesome company making them available to the world, we would have the clearest picture imaginable of with whom we were interacting on social media.

But let’s keep going just to hammer this point home.

Here is a list of the general interests of the average Westworld viewer. They slightly under-index for humor, but you know those computer types, and we know there’s a decent number of them in this crowd.

But much less shocking is the degree to which they under-index for fashion and pop. Again, a quarter of the audience is interested in pop music. That’s not insignificant, but clearly this is a group on the whole concerned with greater things.

TOP 10 GENERAL INTERESTS WITH WESTWORLD’S SOCIAL MEDIA AUDIENCE, BY PERCENTAGE

westworld_interests_by_percentage

While we really don’t want to get into a music detour, it’s worth it just to illustrate the degree to which they truly do fall well below the average when it comes to an interest in contemporary pop music.

westworld_musicalacts_percentage

For Adele they’re on target with the average, and with Lana Del Rey they ever-so-slightly exceed it. But as you can see, with the rest? Not this crowd’s bag. At least not when compared to the average social media audience.

screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-5-45-18-am
A, let’s say strictly for convenience’s sake, typical Westworld fan — accepting that our statistics suggest there are actually different types of fans — expresses, to the best of his ability, his average fondness for Adele, and just a hair above average fondness for Lana Del Rey.

They are about one and a half times more likely to be fans of Metallica and Andrew W.K. than the average, nearly two times more likely to be fans of Iron Maiden (showing that the interest in Metal listed above is no fluke), and perhaps least surprising of all, they’re nearly two and a half times more likely to be fans of Rush.

But, alas, this narrative isn’t as clean as we’d like. They’re approaching a fondness for Peter Gabriel and Rufus Wainwright that exceeds the average by nearly two and three quarters times.

Okay, that diversion hopefully having made its point, let’s return to general interests, except this time sorted by multiple.

TOP 10 GENERAL INTERESTS WITH WESTWORLD’S SOCIAL MEDIA AUDIENCE, BY MULTIPLE

westworld_interest_multiple

Admittedly “game and fish” is a welcome bit of unexpected nuance. There is an outdoorsy element here, which frankly we’re glad to know about.

Things are seldom 100% perfect, as humans — and most social media audiences are made up of mostly those — are complex, sometimes only more so when in a group. But comic books, PC support, video and computer games, graphics software, and it need be drawn attention to, roleplaying games, all conform to the story hinted at in the very first list we featured here.

We didn’t study Game of Thrones when it premiered in spring of 2011, as we hadn’t launched yet. We suspect, however, it’s initial audience looked a fair bit like this. But as its reputation for being extremely well-acted, and simply good storytelling spread, more and more people who typically don’t gravitate toward such programming came aboard.

NEVER FORGET!

Finally, to tout our proud partnership with IBM Watson and our integration of their Personality Insights™ tool into our reporting, we give you the personality types of which the Westworld crowd is comprised, and the varying proportions thereof.

westworld_personalities

“Imagination,” as defined by Personality Insights™ sounds very, almost eerily on the money with what our other stats are telling us

View the real world as often too plain and ordinary. They use fantasy not as an escape but as a way of creating for themselves a richer and more interesting inner-world.

“Liberalism,” as defined by personality insights, does not have to do with our political definitions of the term. But a more classical one.

Have a readiness to challenge authority, convention, and traditional values.

As it’s clear we’re dealing with a crowd containing a decent number of tech oriented people, while not traditionally viewed as outlaws — programmers and coders don’t usually bring to mind Waylon and Willie — they do tend to regard the status quo and something not to be regarded.

We could go on, but you can read more about Personality Insights™ for yourself here.

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