According to a new Nielsen study of what American television viewers are watching, a number of TV shows led by black actors, or those featuring plot lines explicitly focused on black people, have significantly large non-black audiences.
The study, "For Us By Us? The Mainstream Appeal of Black Content," took a look at the viewership numbers of shows like Black-ish, How To Get Away With Murder, and Insecure, and found that well over 60% of the audiences for each show individually were non-black.
While this information might not initially sound all that surprising given the popularity of the shows, Nielsen's numbers disprove one of the more pernicious and problematic stigmas attached to "black productions"—that they only appeal to black audiences and can't be financially successful for studios.
“Much of the American narrative lately has focused on a growing cultural divide. But Nielsen’s data on television programming show something different,” Nielsen's senior vice president of multicultural marketing said. “Storylines with a strong black character or identity are crossing cultural boundaries to grab diverse audiences and start conversations."
In addition to proving that non-black audiences are more than receptive to watching shows about black people, Neilsen's analysis also made a point of noting that these shows often touch upon contemporary social issues relating to race. Given that these shows have such large non-black audiences, it stands to reason that they could very well play important roles in sparking necessary conversations about inequality and racial justice amongst groups that might not otherwise have them.