Are Streaming Services More Diverse Than Traditional TV?

By: The BitMar Team.

Streaming services have been changing the landscape of Television, for years. One area where they have had a significant impact, is: in the area of diversity, and inclusivity. With many people turning to streaming services, as their primary source of entertainment, the question arises: are these platforms more diverse than traditional TV? Let us explore this issue.

According to a study, by the Hollywood Diversity Report, streaming services are more diverse than traditional TV, when it comes to hiring writers, and directors, from underrepresented groups. The report found: that while traditional TV still has a long way to go, when it comes to diversity, streaming services are hiring more people from different communities, to create and produce content.

Streaming services also tend to feature more diverse casts, than traditional TV. Shows, like: "Orange is the New Black," and "Master of None," have been praised, for their diverse casting. These shows feature actors from a wide range of backgrounds, and identities. This is in contrast to traditional TV – where diverse casting has historically been less common.

Historically, diverse TV show and movie casting has not been a priority, for a variety of reasons. However, one of the main reasons has always been: the focus on profitability, over representation in the Television industry. In fact, in the world of Television, this goes back to its early days; when soap companies would fund entire productions of TV shows—now-known, as: "soap operas."

The concept that Television was mainly shaped by the 'White-male perspective' – and, therefore, non-inclusive – is flawed. If that were the case, soap operas – one of the first kinds of shows to gain significant followings, and one of the few types of TV programming that have always been around, since the early days of Television – would have never existed; since Caucasian males were not part of their main target market.

The truth, is: that executives, and producers, have always prioritized TV projects that they believe may be profitable, over those that could be more diverse – in general. Keep in mind that the Caucasian market is the largest ethnic group in the United States. The combination of the two aforementioned variables have resulted in a lack of investment in diverse programming, and in a greater focus on projects that were seen as 'safe investments,' and mainstream.

To be fair, the Linear TV format (also known, as: 'live' TV) – wherein only one program can be showed, at a time, per channel – may have greatly contributed the finance-driven, non-diversity problem. The challenge of keeping the highest possible number of people constantly watching, would have dictated the traditional mainstream approach. Fortunately, the on-demand streaming format does not have those constraints—anyone can stream whatever they want, whenever they want.

Storytelling is another way in which streaming services have become much more diversified, than traditional TV. With fewer constraints, on format, and/or content, streaming services have been able to take risks, and explore new ideas in their programming. This has allowed for a wider range of perspectives, and stories, to be told—including: those from underrepresented communities.

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