Nielsen: Shows With African-American Stars, Storylines Draw Broad Audiences

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Scripted shows with predominately African-American casts are appealing to a wide range of viewers, according to a new Nielsen study.

Shows like ABC’s Black-ish, HBO’s Insecure and FX’s Atlanta and are all averaging more than 50% non-black viewership, according to Nielsen’s The 2016 Diverse Intelligence Series Report. Nearly 80% of comedy series Black-ish'saudience are viewers that are not African-American, while 61% of the Issa Rae-created comedy series Insecure’s audience represents non-black audienes, according to Nielsen.

Shows with ensemble casts also perform extremely well across audience groups including NBC’s freshman hit This Is Us, for which 89% of its audience is non-black, according to Nielsen. The series stars African-American actor Sterling K. Brown, who this past September won an Emmy Award for his portrayal of prosecutor Christopher Darden in FX’s The People V. O.J. Simpson.

“Much of the American narrative lately has focused on a growing cultural divide. But Nielsen’s data on television programming show something different,” says Andrew McCaskill, Nielsen's Senior Vice President, Communications and Multicultural Marketing in a statement. “Storylines with a strong black character or identity are crossing cultural boundaries to grab diverse audiences and start conversations. That insight is important for culture and content creators, as well as manufacturers and retailers looking to create engaging, high-impact advertising campaigns.”

R. Thomas Umstead

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.