<  Back to Press Releases
June 20, 2023

Samba TV’s State of Diversity on TV Report Finds Representation is a Deciding Factor in Choosing What to Watch

Analysis of Representation across Top 50 TV Shows of 2023 Reveals Dramatic Underrepresention Among Hispanic Viewers Across Both Linear TV and Streaming

SAN FRANCISCO, June 20, 2023 — Samba TV, the leading provider of omniscreen data and measurement, today released its State of Diversity on TV report, an analysis of representation across top TV shows of 2023 and how that representation impacts viewership. As the U.S. grows in diversity, content creators, marketers, and advertisers have an opportunity to boost engagement with programming decisions like cast composition, storytelling, and more. Samba TV’s insights indicate cast diversity is a key indicator of viewership among diverse households. The report’s findings also illustrate a television and entertainment landscape marked by dramatic underrepresentation of some demographics, mainly Hispanic and Asian audiences, as well as an ad market that is also underserving these viewers. 

The analysis encompassed programs released on streaming and traditional linear television based on the top 25 highest-reaching direct-to-streaming and top 25 highest-reaching linear TV premiere episodes released between January and May. Insights into representation were sourced from cast composition of top-billed actors and actresses throughout each program. 

“The data shows that greater on-screen representation will tend to increase viewership overall and among diverse populations,” said Samba TV CEO and co-founder Ashwin Navin. “Audiences are deeply connected to what they watch on TV. Although we live in the golden age of content, diversity on-screen still does not adequately represent the population in all its identities.”

Samba TV’s report sheds further light on diversity trends in television viewership, which include:

Over half of people say that they are more likely to watch TV where they see themselves represented. 

  • Within the top 50 TV shows, 42% of top-billed actors were Hispanic, Black, Asian, or another ethnicity such as mixed, while 58% were white.
  • The report’s findings indicated a positive correlation of 43% among households with Black, Hispanic, Asian, mixed race, or another non-white ethnicity watching programs with higher percentages of non-white stars, indicating that cast diversity is a selling point among diverse households.
  • Representation is a deciding factor when audiences choose what to watch on TV. Black households saw the strongest correlation with watching shows with Black leads, with a positive correlation of 67% among Black households watching programs with a higher percentage of Black leads. 

Hispanic representation is far below the U.S. Census levels and is lacking across both linear television and streaming. 

  • Despite making up almost 20% of the U.S., Hispanic actors are underrepresented on TV. Across both linear and streaming, only 10% of lead actors were Hispanic, despite Hispanic people comprising 18% of the U.S. census.
  • In fact, none of the top 50 shows featured a majority Hispanic cast, compared to multiple shows featuring majority white, Black, and Asian leads.
  • Less than half of the top 50 programs featured Hispanic or Asian leads.
  • With 80% of Hispanic people saying diverse content is important when choosing what to watch, content creators and advertisers would benefit from diversifying casts to include Hispanic representation.

Linear programming reaches Black audiences with Black representation.

  • More than 1 in 4 of the lead actors among the top linear shows was Black, and that representation paid off for those shows from a viewership standpoint. Multiple shows with a majority Black leading cast over-indexed in the triple digits based on Black household viewership, including BMF, Snowfall, and Power Book II: Ghost. 
  • The vast majority (90%) of Black audiences say that having diverse representation is important to them when choosing what content to watch.

Studios should look to increase representation, particularly with Asian and Hispanic audiences. 

  • With more and more of the U.S. identifying as ethnicities other than white, studios will fail to drive interest in new programs if they do not adequately reflect the population. 
  • Streamers like Netflix are leaning into diverse representation in their content. Notably, the most diverse streaming shows were all Netflix originals.

About Samba TV‍

Samba TV has transformed the TV from a pane of glass on the wall to a window into the heart of audiences. We are the global leader in television technology powering real-time insights and audience targeting to enable unparalleled marketing efficiency and effectiveness. Our proprietary first-party data from tens of millions of opted-in televisions, across more than 20 TV brands sold in over 100 countries, provides advertisers and media companies a unified view of the entire consumer journey. Our independent currency-grade measurement has future-proofed advertising for the next generation, empowering advertisers to connect with their audiences on any platform, across every screen.

More press releases