Posted on October 28, 2021

Diversity Study: TV Looks More Like Us and Viewers Approve

Lynn Elber, Associated Press, October 26, 2021

Television fare that reflects the nation’s increasing racial and ethnic diversity is finding favor with industry gatekeepers and viewers, according to a study of the 2019-20 TV season released Tuesday.

Despite the pandemic that stymied Hollywood production, there were varying measures of growth in the hiring of people of color — and women — in on- and off-camera jobs, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in the report.

In return, audience enthusiasm for shows such as creator-star Issa Rae’s “Insecure” and the miniseries “Watchmen” with Emmy-winning actor Regina King proved that inclusion pays business as well as social dividends, said Darnell Hunt, dean of the school’s social sciences division.

The report’s biggest takeaway is “the mounting evidence for how important diversity is to today’s audience,” Hunt said in an interview. {snip}

Across streaming, cable and broadcast platforms, viewership among adults age 18 to 49 peaked in many cases when a show had a “majority-minority cast,” Hunt said.


For all households including whites, for example, median ratings were highest for scripted broadcast shows in which people of color were between 31% and 40% of the credited writers, the study found.

For white, Latino and Asian American homes, median ratings peaked for scripted cable shows whose casts were from 41% to 50% people of color, while Black household ratings were highest for shows with “majority-minority casts,” the report said.

People of color fell short of parity in lead acting roles on all platforms. But for the first time in the report’s history, overall cast diversity on scripted broadcast TV was slightly higher than in the general U.S. population (just under 43% ethnic and racial groups).

While actors of color also came close to “proportionate representation” in cable and streaming, most of the gains could be attributed to the increasing share of Black and multiracial roles, researchers found.