Study: Demand for Diverse Scripted TV Content Surpasses Non-Diverse

Since 2017, diverse debuts — scripted TV titles in which at least 40% of the cast is categorized as diverse — have grown to surpass non-diverse titles, according to a new joint study from Creative Artists Agency and Parrot Analytics.

Meanwhile, between 2017 and 2019, the demand for diverse debuts among Parrot Analytics Top 100 most in-demand scripted debuts in the United States doubled, surpassing non-diverse titles for the first time, according to the study.

“This study solidifies what we’ve known for some time — diversity wins onscreen,” Kevin Huvane, co-chairman of CAA, said in a statement. “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 toward a more equitable future for all talent,” Wared Seger, CEO and co-founder of Parrot Analytics, said in a statement. “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.”

The study further demonstrated that diverse tentpoles, defined as the top 25 most in-demand U.S. scripted debuts in any given year, have taken the lead in demand over non-diverse tentpoles.

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Still, not all racial and ethnic groups are equally well represented in scripted debuts, according to the study. Despite being one of the fastest growing demographics in the United States, Hispanics and Latinos were significantly underrepresented. While 18% of the U.S. population is Hispanic or Latino (U.S. Census 2019), the demo represented only 5% of actors in scripted debuts for the 2017-2019 period. Conversely, the study found that whites were overrepresented with 60% of the population per the census and 65% of talent.

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“Successful shows today are at least as diverse as the U.S. population,” said Parrot Analytics insights analyst Dr. Nicole Zamanzadeh.

Additional findings include:

  • U.S. demand for “Euphoria” was 27 times greater than the average U.S. title as of October 2020, according to the study.
  • Audience demand for shows with diverse casts (+112.5%) has grown faster than the industry’s supply of shows with diverse casts (+42%).
  • Since 2017, the demand for highly diverse debuts (above 60% cast diversity) has more than tripled (+211%), outperforming both non-diverse debuts (below 40% cast diversity) and moderately diverse debuts (greater than 40% but less than 60% 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%, 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% 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.

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