NEWS27 October 2021

Television failing to represent black America

Inclusion Media News North America People Trends

US – Black Americans are more likely to watch diverse television programmes but believe television is not accurately portraying their own identity on screen, according to a report by Nielsen.

Man watching TV

The report, Seeing and believing: Meeting black audience demand for representation that matters, found that 58% of black Americans believe there is not enough representation of themselves in media and television.

The report found that while black Americans accounted for more than 1 trillion viewing minutes every quarter, they were also twice as likely as other sections of society to feel portrayals of their identity group on TV are completely inaccurate.

The findings are based on analysis from numerous Nielsen measurement tools and panels, including 40,000 homes nationally as part of the company’s television measurement and a sample of 400,000 listeners for Nielsen Audio.

The report found that while black men had a high on-screen presence, accounting for 15.5% of share of screen time, 44% of black men felt they were inaccurately portrayed.

Black women are also twice as likely, compared with viewers overall, to watch and search for content where they appear on screen.

The report said that black Americans were more likely to purchase from advertisers who advertised within representative content, and that the number of advertisers spending in traditional media focused on black Americans was up 16% since last summer.

Traditional radio was listened to at least once a week by 92% of the US black population, with this group of listeners also averaging an hour and a half of streaming audio every week.

Black listeners also averaged a 73% brand recall for podcast ads, the report found.

Charlene Polite Corley, vice-president, diverse insights and partnerships at Nielsen, said: “As the media industry looks to be more inclusive of black storytellers, and brands look to grow their bottom lines and brand awareness with black audiences, understanding who we are, where we’re connected, and how we’re changing is as important as ever.

“All of this work translates to the important acknowledgement of the value the Black community delivers ‘for the culture’ and beyond.”