Samba TV study highlights widening gap in TV diversity representation

By NewscastStudio

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Despite the increasing diversity of the U.S. population, with approximately 41% identifying as part of a non-white ethnic group, a new study from Samba TV indicates that the television industry has regressed in terms of serving diverse audiences.

The “Diversity in TV” report, which analyzed the top 25 highest-reaching direct-to-streaming and linear TV premiere episodes released between January 1 and May 1, 2024, found that the representation of non-white leads in top TV shows decreased by 12% compared to 2023.

The disparity is particularly evident for Hispanic actors, who account for 19% of the population but only 6% of top-billed cast members, a 40% decline from the previous year. This lack of representation is a concern for TV services facing declining ratings and the streaming industry, which is grappling with financial losses and high churn rates, suggesting widespread consumer dissatisfaction.

Samba TV’s data also revealed a significant positive correlation between diverse casting and viewership from diverse households. Black households showed a 46% correlation with watching shows featuring a higher proportion of Black leads, while Hispanic households exhibited a 50% correlation with watching shows with Hispanic leads, highlighting a missed opportunity for TV services to attract new viewers.

Advertisers are also falling short in reaching diverse audiences, according to the study. Despite their growing numbers and spending power, Hispanic, Black, and Asian audiences are underserved by traditional TV advertising. Hispanic households, comprising 19% of the U.S. population, received only 15% of ad impressions, emphasizing the need for improved targeted advertising strategies.

However, the report showcased examples of successful representation, such as Netflix’s “Griselda” with its all-Latino cast and CBS’s “The Equalizer” featuring a majority Black cast. These programs have driven higher engagement and viewership among their respective ethnic groups, demonstrating the potential benefits of effective representation.

The Samba TV report emphasizes the need for advertisers to adopt advanced targeting techniques to reach underrepresented groups. Brands like TurboTax, which have embraced such strategies, have successfully engaged Hispanic audiences by serving ads proportionately to their demographic representation.

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As the U.S. continues to become more diverse, the TV industry must prioritize improved representation and targeted advertising to better serve and engage with evolving audiences.

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