March 28, 2015

Ratings belie anti-diversity argument

Another response to the Deadline Hollywood article points out that diversity isn't just good morally. It's good financially, leading to better ratings and more revenue for broadcasters.

As Multicultural TV Shows Succeed, Some Wonder if Diversity has Gone Too Far

By Jeff YangHunt warns that like prior TV flirtations with diversity, this progress could be temporary. Yet the numbers—the only things that matter in Hollywood—show that this time, something different may be happening. Out of the scripted shows with all-white leads introduced this past season, just one—a reboot of “The Odd Couple”—seems guaranteed a renewal. Meanwhile, nearly every series centered on diverse characters looks like a solid return, for two reasons.

The first is that they’re expanding network audiences in ways that reflect the new demographic reality. Analyses provided by Nielsen show that the three most-watched non-event shows among 18-49 year old Asian Americans as of February were “Fresh Off the Boat,” “Fresh Off the Boat” and “Fresh Off the Boat”—and it’s not even close, with Asian Americans being twice as likely to watch FOTB as any other scripted program. A full third of all 18-49 year old African Americans watch “Empire” each week, making it more popular than the Super Bowl in that demographic. And 17 of the top 25 shows among 18-49 year old Hispanics are on Univision—the Spanish-language network that regularly draws bigger audiences than Fox and NBC.

The second is that it’s these shows aren’t just catering to their communities. Asian Americans make up as much as 20% of FOTB’s audience—but the other 80% is non-Asian, and they’re what is keeping the series competitive against juggernauts like “The Voice” and “NCIS.”

Ultimately, points out UCLA’s Hunt, “we live in a diverse society, and people want to see stories that reflect that. We’re curious about other groups’ experiences. It shouldn’t come as a shock that white households don’t only want to see shows with just white people.”
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Where Are the Native TV Shows? and Deadline Hollywood on TV Casting.

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