Black TV Shows Gaining Popularity Among Non-Black Audiences

Published: Thursday 16th Feb 2017 by David

A new study carried out by the marketing research firm Nielsen has silenced the claim that mainstream America isn’t interested in TV shows fronted by African-American actors.

Why the likes of ABC, NBC and Fox can be expected to develop new content of colour in the coming years?

Find out below…

Read the study’s findings via Nielsen and ‘Shadow and Act’ below:

— With 89% non-black viewership, “This Is Us,” NBC’s Golden Globe–nominated ensemble dramedy, includes Sterling K. Brown as a black businessman raised by white parents and tackles topics such as drug addiction, racism, homosexuality, alcoholism, adoption, obesity and cancer.

— ABC’s hit sitcom “Black-ish” follows a father and husband (Anthony Anderson) who’s trying to create a sense of black cultural identity for his affluent family of six and has 79% non-black viewership. Tracee Ellis Ross, who plays his wife, won the best actress in a comedy series Golden Globe for her role.

— 75% of the viewership for “Secrets and Lies,” the ABC crime drama that revolves around the biracial heir (Michael Ealy) to a Charlotte, N.C., equity firm and the murder of his wife, are non-black.

— ABC’s hit Shonda Rhimes drama “How to Get Away with Murder” starring Viola Davis as a criminal defense professor who gets entangled in a murder plot, draws 69% non-black viewership.

— 68% of ABC’s “Scandal,” another Shondaland thriller featuring Kerry Washington as a former media consultant to the president, is non-black.

— With 63% non-black viewers, Fox’s “Pitch” is a dramedy about the first woman, a black woman, to play baseball in the Major Leagues.

— The audience for “Insecure,” the HBO original comedy series co-created by Issa Rae, is 61% non-black.

— And half the viewership for Donalg Glover’s FX series “Atlanta” is non-black. The show, created by and starring Donald Glover, centers on two black cousins navigating the Atlanta rap scene.

Andrew McCaskill, Senior Vice President, Communications and Multicultural Marketing, at Nielsen had this to say about the findings:

Much of the American narrative lately has focused on a growing cultural divide. But Nielsen’s data on television programming show something different. Storylines with a strong black character or identity are crossing cultural boundaries to grab diverse audiences and start conversations. That insight is important for culture and content creators, as well as manufacturers and retailers looking to create engaging, high-impact advertising campaigns.


It seems, despite efforts to present proponents of diversity within entertainment as rebels without a cause, the industry is benefitting from the birth of shows which offer viewers complex, colourful and compelling access to complex, colourful and compelling characters.



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  1. Tim Brown February 16, 2017

    Smh. Who do these people think kept shows on the air like Cosby, and Fresh Prince!

    • AmbeRussell February 17, 2017

      But other black shows in recent past did not gain that much non white viewership. Shows from the 90s on did not generate huge non black viewers, like Martin, Living Single, anything on UPN or the WB like the Jamie foxx show or Steve have were mainly watched by black families. A new York times article from 98 said 2mill ppl watched Steve show but only less than 1 mill watched.

  2. Kim.Kesha&Pam February 16, 2017

    Of course they’re going to be popular. White folks love observing & collecting things from BLACK culture & try to make them their own.

  3. Joy February 16, 2017

    And all of them were written by writers of color. Now that is the best part. People of all races know deep down that black people are misrepresented which is why these awesome new nuanced shows are doing so well. Let this be a lesson to us all. The system which will block your efforts is the same one which will praise you once you achieve them.

  4. Meme February 16, 2017

    Brings joy to my heart. I think that we are finally getting quality pilots and movie roles so black actors are really shinning. Just glad to see quality black sitcoms back to tv. Blackish is my ish

  5. Pat February 16, 2017

    Theyve always been intrugued with us…nothing new here

    • Ashanti Number 1 Fan February 16, 2017


      • boomkack123 February 16, 2017

        Since they set foot on Africa

  6. John A. February 16, 2017

    I really hope this resurgence happens for Black music.

    • Madbrax February 17, 2017

      then i really hope black music gets good again

  7. Chileplease (the first and only bih) February 16, 2017

    Great, but non-black does not equal white. I want to see those numbers.

  8. Danzou February 16, 2017

    Ok but the whole show is lightskin people. The way they speak is white passing. Lets get a tv show with a dark family that speaks AAVE winning awards and Ill be happy.

    • Meme February 16, 2017

      No thank you. That is the problem…the shows and movIt’s were portraying different types of blacks. Every black person isn’t ghetto and hood. There are “white” speaking educated black people out there. Thanks

      • Bey/Rih February 17, 2017

        @ Meme. Exactly!

      • Teflon Boy February 17, 2017

        Exactly! It is tired and ridiculous that black characters consistently speak with a different dialect to the white characters they share screen time with. It’s one thing if they are from different walks of life but it’s racist when they are supposedly friends who’ve grown up around each other. For example, the sassy black female friend of the white lead or the smack talking black guy with street affiliation who hangs with a white crowd. Those stereotypes are insulting.

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