UCLA Report: Cast Diversity at Decade High But BIPOC & Women Remain Underrepresented Off-Camera

newest Hollywood Variety Report from UCLA For the first time since the study began nine years ago, the BIPOC “collectively reached or exceeded proportional representation among lead actors” on broadcast, cable and streaming platforms. This milestone has been mostly enjoyed by black and multiracial people in top roles, while Latinx individuals are underrepresented on the small screen. The report also found that the TV industry has become more fragmented in the wake of the pandemic and job opportunities are not equally distributed to women and minorities as white male creators continue to receive larger budgets.

The annual research project of UCLA’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE) examines the relationship between diversity and the bottom line in the TV sector. This year’s edition evaluated 407 scripted broadcast, cable and digital platform TV programs to document representation of women and BIPOC behind and in front of the camera during the 2020-21 season. Noting that “people were still mainly confined to their homes for the start of the season and gradually started moving out as the season progressed due to the reopening of businesses, This year’s report had the thematic focus of Middle and Post. -Pandemic entertainment consumption.

“This report series has consistently documented the fact that diverse audiences demand diverse television content,” explained authors Dr. Anna-Christina Ramon, Michael Tran and Dr. Darnell Hunt. “As the minority share of viewers has grown, so has the traditional ratings and social media engagement for relatively diverse shows.”

All audience groups had the highest average ratings for scripted cable programs with at least 41 percent minority actors. Such programs also increase Facebook and Instagram engagement.

The report also found that compared to its previous version, there has been an increase in BIPOC employment relative to White counterparts in the 12 key employment sectors of the TV sector – including leads, show creators, credit writers, and episodes directed throughout broadcasts. cable, and digital.

“Although people of color were approaching proportional representation among cable and digital scripted leads, cable episodes directed, and credited cable writers,” the report details, “they were less likely to be on every industry employment front during the 2020-21 television season. Keep representing.”

Sure enough, creators of BIPOC shows made up only 13.1 percent in scripted broadcast programs and 25.6 percent in digital. Scripted cable programs boast the highest – though not the most – racial diversity of the three platforms, with 26.6 percent of producers being BIPOC. Similarly, BIPOC writers with only 30.5 percent of credits on broadcast series, 32.6 percent on digital, and 38 percent on cable – once again formed the leading platform in the metric. People of color directed 28.8 percent of broadcast scripted episodes, 27.3 percent of digital episodes and 38 percent of cable episodes.

Women in TV saw gains in 11 of the 12 major employment sectors across all platforms since the last study. The report suggests that even though women make up slightly more than half the population, they are “underrepresented on every front” except for cable and digital scripted leads in 2020-21.

Only 31.2 percent of show creators on scripted cable series are women, with broadcast programs close to 31.8 percent and digital shows have the highest number of female producers at 36.1 percent. When it comes to episodes directed by women, cable series leads with 38 percent, compared to digital’s 34.4 percent and broadcast’s 33.9 percent.

These figures are more encouraging for women writers, who account for 45.2 percent of credit broadcast writers, 46.8 percent of cable writers and 46.4 percent of digital writers.

The report emphasizes that BIPOC and increased opportunities for women do not translate into equal access to resources for creators to flag their projects. “When we examined the episodic budgets of all TV series, we see a strong pattern indicating that shows created by people of color and women tend to have smaller budgets than those created by white men, especially in the digital realm. In.”

In broadcast, white women (86.9 percent) and BIPOC (71.4 percent) show creators were more likely to receive smaller budgets (under $3 million per episode) than white men (58.5 percent). The same could be said for cable programs, where white women (86.7 percent) and BIPOC (70.8 percent) were also more likely to have smaller budgets than white men (52 percent).

According to the report, digital platforms offered creators larger budgets than broadcast and cable: “But again, creators of color (66.6 percent) and white female creators (51.4 percent) have more per episode than white male creators.” Smaller budgets were more likely to be less than $3 million. Producers (38.8 percent). White male creators also benefited the most at the high end of the budget continuum, especially those of more than $7 million (21 percent) per episode. With a budget.”

The report concludes that the 2020-21 season reflects an “uncertain tipping point” in the TV industry, a watershed period driven by increased costs related to COVID, which prevents many series from renewing or returning for final seasons. . This is a bad sign for diversity initiatives, which are “considered as optional rather than essential,” and as history shows us, are prone to sacrifices during economic downturns.

The report stresses, “The next few years could be a true test of whether Hollywood is truly committed to the changes it has made on the diversity front in the nation’s race following the killing of George Floyd.” were done for.” “It would be a huge miscalculation by Hollywood to back these efforts before equity for people and women of color.”

Read UCLA’s latest TV diversity report in full Here,