According to a new study by CAA and Parrot Analytics, TV shows are a lot more diverse than they were three years ago — and I would hope so considering the slow changes being made by the industry during that time. The study found that the audience demand for diverse U.S. scripted debuts has more than doubled since 2017. To add to that, diverse debuts overtook non-diverse debuts in 2019 for the first time. The study was reveled at MIPCOM Online+ by CAA’s Head of Data, Andre Vargas alongside Jaime Feld and Ben Dey, Co-Heads of CAA’s Television Talent department as well as representatives from Parrot Analytics.
“This study solidifies what we’ve known for some time – diversity wins onscreen,” said Kevin Huvane, Co-Chairman, CAA. “CAA will continue leading the industry in prioritizing diversity in our client work, while also encouraging storytellers and business partners to tell stories onscreen that authentically represent the audiences who are watching.”
“We are proud to partner with CAA to help move the industry towards a more equitable future for all talent,” shares Wared Seger, CEO & Co-Founder, Parrot Analytics. “We remain committed to our long-term objective to showcase the value of diversity and inclusion as we continue to unlock the magic of content for our partners around the globe.”
Although there seems to be an increase in diversity, upon further unpacking of the details of the study, not all racial and ethnic groups were equally well represented in scripted debuts. Latinos and Hispanics remain significantly underrepresented despite being one of the fastest-growing demographics in the country. This news comes after Latino-fronted shows like The Baker and the Beauty, Vida and most recently, United We Fall were canceled.
While 18% of the U.S. population is Hispanic or Latino, this group is underrepresented with only 5% of actors in scripted debuts for the period 2017-2019. As expected, the study found that whites were overrepresented with 60% of the population per the census and 65% of talent.
“Our study empirically evidences that successful shows today are at least as diverse as the US population,” said Parrot Analytics Insights Analyst Dr. Nicole Zamanzadeh. “Using the world’s only global measurement system of demand, we empower our partners to listen to the rich tapestry of audiences to nimbly respond to the challenges and opportunities of an ever-changing entertainment industry. This study exemplifies why our empirical metric of observed behaviors is so important.”
“It’s incredibly important for us as a company to use data to help inform clients’ decisions across film, TV, music, sports, and more,” added Vargas. “We have had a longtime focus on diversity backed with real data, which is why we are excited that this first-of-its-kind study led by CAA and Parrot Analytics will help guide the agency and industry as a whole as we continue to push for greater diversity onscreen.”
The study also found that the audience demand for shows with diverse casts (+113%) has greatly surpassed the industry’s supply of shows with diverse casts (+42%). Other noteworthy findings of the study include:
- Since 2017, the demand for highly diverse debuts (above 60 percent cast diversity) has more than tripled (+211%) outperforming both non-diverse debuts (below 40 percent cast diversity) and moderately diverse debuts (greater than 40 percent but less than 60 percent cast diversity).
- In the study, only diverse broadcast debuts consistently outperformed and were more in-demand than non-diverse debuts between 2017 and 2019.
- The portion of broadcast debuts’ diverse series regular talent has steadily remained above 40 percent, the highest of any platform.
- Since 2017, cable’s diverse debuts have more than doubled in demand.
- While demand for diverse debuts has doubled, cable’s talent diversity in its debut’s series regular casts has slightly declined.
- In 2019, for the first time, streamers’ diverse debuts were more in-demand than their non-diverse debuts.
- Streamers have steadily increased their percentage of talent diversity in debut series regular casts.
- Streamers’ increasing number of highly diverse debuts (more than 60 percent diverse cast) corresponds with a greater share of streaming titles in the top 100 debuts. Streamers released 2.5 times more highly diverse debuts in 2019 than 2017.
This study continues CAA’s push for inclusion and equity. The agency developed the Television Showrunner Mentorship Program in 2019 to promote diverse writers and has bolstered their advocacy with events like The Writers Boot Camp and the Creators Summit Series. In June 2017, CAA issued the CAA Motion Picture Cast Diversity Index and in 2018 they partnered with the tech company shift7 to examine the correlation between female-led films and box office success, as well as the box office implications of films that pass the Bechdel Test.
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