Hey, casting directors! Are you listening to this?
A new study finds that television programs that feature an ethnically diverse cast and writers have better ratings than TV shows with homogeneous characters, Phys.org reports.
The analysis, entitled “Hollywood Diversity Brief: Spotlight on Cable Television,” excluded reality TV shows and focused on cable and broadcast dramas and comedies. Cable programs that had 31 to 40 percent of minority cast members scraped up the highest median household ratings. Examples of shows that represent this statistic are A.N.T Farm (Disney) , The Closer (TNT) and Falling Skies (TNT).
Among cable show writers, ratings peaked with a staff that was 11 to 20 percent and 41 to 50 percent minority. Southland on TNT as well as USA programs In Plain Sight and Common Law represent these two categories.
On broadcast networks, casts that represented a 41 to 50 percent minority drew in more viewers; “ratings took a dive for shows with casts that were 10 percent minority or less,” Phys said. Broadcast shows that had a writing staff that represented 21-30 percent minorities had the highest ratings.
“It’s clear that people are watching shows that reflect and relate to their own experiences,” said Darnell Hunt, lead investigator of the study who has worked two years on analyzing diversity in Hollywood.
This new project, which is facilitated by UCLA researchers, seeks to track whether the TV and film industry is hiring racially diverse groups of actors, writers, directors, producers in title roles. It will also find the “best practices for widening the pipeline for underrepresented groups,” Phys added.
Although diverse programs draw in a larger viewership, the study found that ethnic minorities and women still remain marginalized as actors and writers. “Everyone in the industry talks about the importance of diversity, but it clearly isn’t priority one when decisions are made. And it’s not going to be a priority until people realize how it affects the bottom line,” Hunt added.
This analysis focused on 1,000 television shows on 67 cable and broadcast networks between 2011 and 2012; the study is part of an ongoing analysis for Hollywood Advancement Project.