Despite strides made around diversity in media in recent years, representation of Blacks in media has a long way to go, according to Horowitz Research’s latest FOCUS Black: The Media Landscape 2019 report. The report, which covers topics including TV and video subscription services, viewing behaviors, attitudes towards TV content, and more among Black TV content viewers, reveals that half (49%) of Black TV content viewers say they often feel “personally offended” by the way Blacks are portrayed on TV and in movies. In an era where competition for eyeballs is fiercer than ever before, it is more critical than ever to understand what Black viewers are looking for—and how today’s content may still be falling short.
Black viewers, who have long been some of the TV industry’s heaviest and most engaged audiences, are strongly drawn toward content that is geared toward them. When asked about the types of content and features that are important to them when they make subscription decisions, having a selection of channels for the Black audience is nearly as important as broadcast networks, and more important than local/regional sports networks and children’s programming.
What Black viewers are looking for in content, though, is not just representation, but diversity of representation. Six in ten Black viewers say they feel that most TV shows and movies made for Black audiences focus on the experiences of some segments of the African American population instead of showcasing the diversity of the Black experience. Seven in ten Black viewers say they would like to see more TV shows and movies that showcase the diversity of the Black experience in the U.S. and two-thirds say they would like to see content that showcases the diversity of Black cultures from all over the world.
“The Black audience has been misunderstood and frankly, taken for granted for far too long. That is bad for business for advertisers, networks, and distributors who need to connect with this audience to succeed in today’s disrupted media ecosystem,” said Adriana Waterston, SVP of Insights and Strategy for Horowitz. “It is important to understand the regional, cultural, and even linguistic diversity of Black communities in the U.S. to be able to resonate more authentically with them, rather than assume the Black audience is a monolithic group with the the same histories, the same worldviews, and the same content needs and interests.
Other key findings from this report include:
Black viewers are heavy streamers: they spend as much time streaming as they do watching traditional live TV;
Nearly one in five Black TV content viewers reports streaming all of their TV content;
Personalization and out-of-home/mobile access are more important to Black viewers than other consumer segments.