USA Today Gives Major TV Networks Letter Grades for Diversity

By Sameer Rao Nov 02, 2016

USA Today published a suite of articles yesterday (November 1) that paint a comprehensive picture of contemporary TV diversity in front of and behind the camera. That package includes a report card, complete with letter grades for five major broadcasters’ representation of marginalized groups on screen:

  • ABC: A-
  • Fox: B+
  • CW: C+
  • NBC: C+
  • CBS: C-

​"Grades were determined based on USA Today research on the ethnic and racial makeup of scripted primetime fall 2016 series, the percentage of leading roles they represent and the prevalence of diverse themes in the shows," explained the publication. To that end, ABC scored the best grade on the basis of programs like "Black-ish," "Fresh Off the Boat" and all of Shonda Rhimes‘ shows. CBS scored lowest, thanks to having only two shows ("Elementary" and "NCIS: Los Angeles") with lead actors of color and six new shows lead by White men.

Diversity still lags behind the scenes, with USA Today’s Bill Kenevey writing that "just 10 percent of executive producers on broadcast sitcoms and dramas this fall are from non-White backgrounds, with ABC—home to super-producer Shonda Rhimes—leading the way at 17 percent."

While it didn’t grade cable and streaming platforms like FX and Netflix, USA Today did highlight the major strides those companies have made this season in empowering creators of color.

Read the full suite of articles on USA Today’s website.