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On-screen representation increasing but so is cultural misrepresentation


Nielsen report measures data and audience

Diversity on-screen is at an all-time high across cable, broadcast, and streaming platforms, yet almost a quarter of viewers surveyed in 2021 indicate that representation is inaccurate according to Nielsen’s latest Diverse Intelligence Series report titled Being Seen on Screen: The Importance of Quantity and Quality Representation on TV.

With 42.2 percent of the U.S. population racially and ethnically diverse today, the entertainment industry has an opportunity to create content that better portrays this diversity. Recent Nielsen data for the 2020-2021 TV season shows that among the top 1,500 programs, 78 percent have some presence of racial, ethnic, gender, or sexual orientation diversity. Share of Screen (SOS) provides the composition of the top 10 recurring cast members in a program

“If you simply look at that high percentage point, you might think the majority of identity groups are well-covered. But lack of representation and diversity in popular content is more nuanced,” says Stacie de Armas, Nielsen’s senior vice president of Diverse Insights & Initiatives. “Looking back at the media moments this year, diverse casts and stories have been in the headlines. Yet, according to Nielsen’s recent research, almost a quarter of people still feel that there is not enough content that adequately represents people from their identity group.”

The report uncovers notable disparities in representation across all identity groups seen on cable, broadcast, and streaming platforms:

• Black talent is above on-screen parity, yet 58 percent of Black audiences say there’s still not enough representation.

• Hispanic/Latinx broadcast Share of Screen appears close to parity at 22 percent with in-language programming being a key driver.

• South and Southeast Asian representation remain far below parity, compared to East Asian Share of Screen.

• Native American cultures are inaccurately represented or are missing altogether from America’s most watched genres — such as drama, action adventure and reality.

• The LGBTQ+ community is seeking content more reflective of the lived experience. Cable had the highest representation of queer talent at 7.5 percent, followed by both broadcast and SVOD with less than 4 percent SOS

For more details and insights, download Being Seen on Screen: The Importance of Quantity and Quality Representation on TV. Visit to learn more. Join the discussion on Facebook (Nielsen Community) and follow on Twitter (@NielsenKnows).