UCLA Study Finds Link Between TV Diversity and Higher Ratings

But people of color and women are still woefully underrepresented on television.

By Julianne Hing Oct 16, 2013

The bottom line tends to drive–or justify–so much of Hollywood decisionmaking. So the latest study from the UCLA Bunche Center for African American Studies should be required reading. 

Researchers found that in the 2011 through 2012 season, cable television shows like "The Closer" and "Falling Skies," with at least a third of their casts who were people of color had the highest ratings. The lowest performing shows, meanwhile, had casts that were more than 90 percent white. And the same held for broadcast television. Television shows whose casts were 40 to 50 percent people of color performed the best in median household ratings. 

"It’s clear that people are watching shows that reflect and relate to their own experiences," Darnell Hunt, a UCLA professor and author of the study, said in a statement.

But viewing habits aside, Hollywood is embarrasingly out of touch with the demographic reality of the country. People of color are over 36 percent of the U.S. population, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. But you wouldn’t know it from TV, where people of color are the leads in just 11 percent of broadcast television shows and 15 percent of cable shows, UCLA researchers found. 

Read the study in full here.

(h/t Take Two)