These Numbers Show How More Diversity on TV Leads to Increased Viewership
According to a University of California Los Angeles study, television that is representative of growing racial or ethnic diversity in America resonates with audience members and stakeholders.
In UCLA’s Hollywood Diversity Report 2021The 2019-2020 television season was covered by researchers. They found that diversity in talent hiring has increased, regardless of the difficulties faced by many TV productions during the pandemic. Researchers gathered data on racial diversity and job opportunities for 461 television programs across 6 broadcast networks, 29 cable networks, and 15 digital platforms. They also tracked social media engagement and ratings.
Social media engagement and ratings for almost all audiences (including white viewers) soared for shows that had at least 31% minorities. Adult viewership between 18 and 49 was also higher for shows with a predominantly minority cast. And for the first time in the study’s history, the percentage of scripted broadcast TV acting roles for people of color, which clocked in this year at 43.4%, surpassed the overall percentage of people of color in the U.S at 42.7% for ethnic and racial groups.
Darnell Hunt, dean of the Division of Social Sciences at UCLA, who co-wrote the report with his colleague Ana-Christina Ramón, says these significant shifts are indicative of the rise in streaming technology, which, through a non-traditional business model, has resulted in more shows by people of color and women being greenlit, which has paid off well. Increasing diversity in the U.S. also means that audiences are hungry to see themselves on-screen—a factor that will only become more important in the future; currently, 53% of all Americans under the age of 18 are people of color, putting the country on track to be majority non-white within two decades.
“People basically want to see the TV shows that look like America, that have characters they can relate to and have experiences that resonate with them,” Hunt told the Associated Press This is a nod to the commercial and critical success of shows such as UnsecureThe Emmy-winning Emmy Award-winning actress Issa Rae created the. WatchmenThe film starred Regina King.
But there’s still plenty of work to be done in Hollywood when it comes to furthering diversity and inclusion, per the study. The study shows that representation numbers have increased, but this can be partially attributed to the increase of Black talent or multiracial talent. Asian Americans remain the most underrepresented group of all actors, despite being the fastest-growing race in the U.S. Latinx, Indigenous, and Latinx. Both Hunt and Ramón attribute this to executive decisions that see diversity within a Black-white binary.
People of color also have to deal with a wide parity gap behind the scenes. In TV writing rooms on all platforms, although numbers increased for those of color, less than 30% made up the majority of writers. The lack of representation in top positions such as show creators and executives was evident.