Diversity and inclusion are critical components in today’s media, both on screen and in storylines, and the media industry is taking note, particularly when it comes to the demand for authentic television programming featuring the U.S. Latino population.
For example, the Gracenote Inclusion Opportunity Index, which compares the share of screen time for different identity groups against their representation in population estimates, shows a jump of 62 index points in Latino representation across televised entertainment programming between 2019 and 2020. That means that while overall television content featuring Hispanics on-screen in 2019 and 2020 are still below the population estimate, there is a positive movement toward closing the representation gap illustrated by the increased representation in 2020, and it’s more pronounced when evaluated by genre.
The shift toward inclusion is important for many reasons, one of which is the notable growth of the U.S. Latino population. In fact, Hispanics now account for 19% of the U.S. population, having fueled more than 50% of the U.S. population growth over the past decade.
Frustrated by decades of erasure in Hollywood, Latinos are calling for authentic share of screen in content, with 39% saying their individual identity groups aren’t represented enough on TV1. This sentiment is reflected in traditional TV viewing, as Hispanics accounted for just 12% of the linear TV audience in June. Comparatively, Whites accounted for 66% share2. Programs that do attract notable Hispanic audiences are those that star Latinos, such as Selena, NCIS and Criminal Minds. This viewing behavior is in sync with the sentiment from nearly 60% of Latinos who say they’re more likely to watch programming featuring their identity group.
Just a year ago, on-screen Latino representation was just 6% across linear and streaming platforms. This year, on-screen has increased to just under 10%, but that’s still well below the 19% representation in the U.S. population.
As they seek out programming that features their identity group, Latinos are spending an increasing amount of time watching content on streaming platforms, many of which are attracting larger Hispanic audiences than linear programming is. In June, for example, Hispanics accounted for 22% of the minutes streamed on Netflix. The behavior supports the sentiment from 55% of Latinos who say that streaming options have more content that is relevant to them.
Importantly, Spanish-language content drives on-screen representation. Without it, Latino representation drops to just 6%. There are also significant representation gaps across many genres of programming, such as intersectionality. Afro-Latinas, for example, are largely absent across all platforms, with just 0.48% representation. And when Latinas are present on screen, they appear in content with thematic attributes of crime, family dysfunction and emotional drama. Stereotypical type casting in programming, however, is just as present across the broader Latino community, especially among women.
Amid the sea of growing choice, authentic content becomes a key differentiator, particularly when publishers identify needs that aren’t being met. We know that identity groups are more likely to seek out and engage with the content that they can best relate to—content they can see themselves in.