Women and People of Color Tend to Receive Smaller Budgets for Shows, Study Finds

Although diversity on TV, both on and off camera, continues to improve each year, significant roadblocks for female and minority creators continue to exist in the industry — chief among them budgets.

According to a new study from UCLA’s Entertainment and Media Research Initiative, nearly half of all TV shows created by white men across broadcast, cable and television received a budget of $3 million or more per episode. On broadcast, 41.5% of shows created by white men had episodic budgets higher than $3 million, while that figure increases to 48% and 61.3% when looking at cable and streaming. In contrast, show creators of color had show budgets above $3 million per episode 28.5% (broadcast), 29.2% (cable), and 33.3% (streaming) of the time. Meanwhile, only 13% of broadcast shows and 13.3% of cable shows from white woman creators had episodic budgets over $3 million — streaming was significantly better, at 48.7%, but still lagging far beyond their male counterparts.

Published Wednesday, the study authored by UCLA’s Dr. Ana-Christina Ramón, Michael Tran, and Dr. Darnell Hunt. Tran, Ariel Stevenson, Kali Tambree, Jade Abston, Jiyoung Kim, and Samantha Tecson contributed to data analysis. The researchers examined data relating to 407 scripted shows that aired between September 1, 2020 and August 31, 2021, looking at the racial and gender composition of the show’s cast, creators, and other key crew members. Data was compiled by sources such as The Studio System, Variety Insight, IMDb, TalkWalker, and Nielsen.

The study further found that the biggest budget shows produced on cable and streaming are disproportionately made by white men — 21% of white men creating shows on streaming have budgets of $7 million per episode. By contrast, only 11.1% of minority creators have episodic budgets reaching that threshold. Disney+’s “Wandavision” was the only show from the season surveyed with an episode budget over $7 million that was created by a white woman (the study lumps woman of color together with men of color, so it’s unclear if including them in its analysis of gender would have affected these figures).

In terms of the demographics of people making shows, the overall percentages did improve from prior years. Women made up 31.8% of show creators in broadcast, 31.2% in cable and 36.1% on streaming, while people of color made up 13.1%, 26.6%, and 25.6% of creators in those respective categories. Those figures all are improvements from the prior year, though it remains disproportionate to U.S. demographics.

Elsewhere in the study, the researchers found that cast diversity improved on all three surveyed show platform types, with 34.9% of broadcast, 35.8% of cable and 30.7% percent of streaming shows featuring casts where the majority of performers were people of color. However, the study found that broadcast TV featured significantly fewer leads of color, at 27.4%, compared to 39.6% and 37.6% of cable and streaming shows.

Source: Read Full Article