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Ratings firm Nielsen begins tracking diversity and inclusion in TV

Ruby Parker, left, as Marina Thompson in Netflix's hit series "Bridgerton," which features a diverse cast.
(Liam Daniel / Netflix)

Ratings titan Nielsen has begun tracking inclusion in television to accelerate diversity and equity in media.

The audience measurement and data analytics firm launched Gracenote Inclusion Analytics Wednesday to deliver “unprecedented visibility into the gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation of talent appearing in TV programming and the audiences watching it,” it said.

The initiative combines entertainment metadata with Nielsen’s audience measurement data. It’s designed to equip content creators, owners, distributors and advertisers with data around onscreen diversity and representation to enable more inclusive content.

“The entertainment industry has a massive challenge ahead — to ensure the talent associated with popular TV programming mirrors today’s increasingly diverse viewing audiences,” said Sandra Sims-Williams, Nielsen’s senior vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion in a statement. “By democratizing information around representation in content, Gracenote Inclusion Analytics holds the power to push the industry toward better balance and a more equitable future.”

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In December, a “Being Seen on Screen” report from Gracenote and Nielsen found streaming shows featured more diverse identity groups than broadcast or cable, which could be partially fueling a migration to the internet platforms.

The proprietary metrics from Gracenote, a Nielsen company, will assess the degree to which different identity groups are featured in programming and how evenly that reflects viewing audiences.

The data suite will also offer clients insights about on-camera talent appearing in popular broadcast, cable and SVOD TV programs. Future enhancements, Nielsen said, will expand coverage to include theatrical films and behind-the-camera talent such as directors, producers, writers and others holding key roles.

“Audiences today actively seek out programs that highlight people who resemble them and experiences that reflect their own,” added Tina Wilson, head of analytics at Nielsen. “Under these circumstances, it’s critical that the entertainment industry create authentic content which resonates with underrepresented groups.”

The metrics will look at share of screen (SOS), which quantifies an identity group’s representation on screen among the top recurring talent — women, Black, LGBTQ+, for example; Inclusion Opportunity Index, which compares the share of screen metric to the identity group’s representation in population estimates; and the Inclusion Audience Index, which compares share of screen for a group to their representation in the program’s viewing audience.

That information, Nielsen said, could assist distributors in highlighting content in their catalog to feature diverse female leads for Women’s History Month. Or a studio can use the tool to evaluate whether its content meets Diversity, Equity and Inclusion benchmarks set by Nielsen to highlight programs for licensing opportunities.

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Spoiler alert: They are all on Netflix. But it demonstrates audiences are still discovering established network shows through streaming.


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