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Case Study

What makes the best partners in (fighting) crime?

For the inaugural study in our series on characters and relationships in streaming shows, we took a look at some of the top police/detective and crime shows from the past few years to investigate what makes great lead cops – and cop partnerships.


We wanted to know which characters and partnerships stood out in these shows, and how viewers’ relationships with them drove their interest and affinity.


To add a bit of transatlantic intrigue, we included shows from the U.S. and the U.K. (as well as police/crime viewers from each country.)


what we did
We showed viewers a mix of promos and clips from 6 top shows, and – using Lumière Channels, our video testing software – let them explore, watch, and comment to their hearts’ content. With our Lumière-powered study, we were able to drill deep into how viewers relate to these characters and partnerships – and what makes some more compelling than others.


what we discovered
compelling relationships come in all flavors

The most interesting partnerships can hit different levers in how viewers relate to the characters – from identification (Karl Roebuck & Elise Wassermann, The Tunnel) to intrigue (Ray Velcoro & Ani Bezzerides, True Detective s. 2) to aspirational friendship (Molly Solverson & Gus Grimly, Fargo s. 1) and admiration (Cassie Stuart & Sunny Khan, Unforgotten).


viewers want to “be with” (more than “be like”) the best crime partners
In general, the most interesting partnerships are those viewers want to be in close proximity to, and ultimately build their own relationship with. This appears to be more important to viewers than directly identifying with the characters.


it’s better to be bad than boring
When partnerships are less interesting, it’s less often because they rub viewers the wrong way – by triggering annoyance, anger, or fear – and more because they simply haven’t made an impression at all. In other words, when viewers aren’t able to form their own relational bond with partnerships, they’re less interested in watching them.


some partnerships have transatlantic appeal – others are more niche
When comparing foreign show watchers (U.S. watching U.K., or vice versa) with affinity for foreign shows vs. those without, interest in some partnerships increases (niche appeal) – while interest in others stays consistent (transnational appeal.)



want to learn more? we can help!
Check back soon for more episodes on how to create great characters in video content. And in the meantime, see Lumière in action at to explore how our technology can help uncover actionable insights about your video content.


And if you think this stuff is fun – you’re in good company, we do too! Drop us a line with any questions, thoughts, or comments – we’d love to hear from you.