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Multicultural Viewers Streaming to Digital

Multicultural viewers have always been cable’s most loyal customers, even in the midst of the growing popularity of streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.

A new Horowitz Associates report, however, shows that urban multicultural viewers are quickly migrating to digital platforms to consume video content.

Horowitz’s “State of Cable & Digital Media: Multicultural Edition 2015” reports that 51% of Hispanic viewers, 46% of Asian viewers and 45% of black viewers spend more than 20% of their total TV viewing time watching OTT services, compared with only 39% of white viewers.

Plus, more than 88% of urban multicultural TV viewers have the ability to stream video content to a computer, mobile device or directly to a TV.

“Multicultural consumers have always paved the way for new technology, especially when it comes to television and entertainment,” Adriana Waterston, Horowitz’s senior vice president of Insights & Strategy, said.

The report comes as a recent Nielsen Total Audience Report showed that traditional TV viewing is down among multicultural viewers. For example, while African-Americans continue to watch far more broadcast and cable TV than any other group, monthly viewership among African-Americans was down by 12 hours in the first quarter compared with Q1 2014, Nielsen officials said.

Viewership is also down by five hours among Hispanic viewers and by three hours among Asian viewers in the same time period, according to Nielsen.

The silver lining for cable is that 85% of multicultural viewers surveyed by Horowitz still subscribe to a multichannel service, which gives cable and broadcast networks the chance to deliver content that reflects and showcases images of and stories about people of color. The 2014-15 TV season produced arguably the most multicultural-themed dramas, comedies and original movies in a generation.

With a few exceptions, the streaming services have been slow to develop original programming featuring predominately multicultural casts or actors of color in lead roles. As the U.S. population continues to become more diverse, the platforms that provide the content and services that multicultural viewers seek will ultimately garner the lion’s share of their viewing time and monthly subscription dollars.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.