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Nielsen to Measure Onscreen Diversity on TV Shows

Gracenote Inclusion Analytics will offer “unprecedented visibility into the gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation”

Nielsen is launching a new analytics measurement to track the diversity of the casts on TV shows, as well as the viewers watching those series, the ratings currency company said Wednesday.

Called Gracenote Inclusion Analytics, the new solution will offer “unprecedented visibility into the gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation of talent appearing in TV programming and the audiences watching it” and provide “content creators, owners, distributors and advertisers with much-needed data around on-screen diversity and representation to enable more inclusive content,” per Nielsen.

The data will be formulated by combining Gracenote Global Video program metadata and Studio System celebrity race and ethnicity data with currency grade Nielsen television ratings and Nielsen SVOD content ratings data, which will deliver what Nielsen calls “new proprietary metrics assessing the degree to which different identity groups are featured in programming and how evenly this reflects viewing audiences.”

These include: “Share of Screen” quantifying an identity group’s (e.g. Women, LGBTQ, Black) representation among the top recurring talent; “Inclusion Opportunity Index” comparing Share of Screen for an identity group (e.g. Women) to their representation in population estimates; and “Inclusion Audience Index comparing Share of Screen for a group to their representation in the program’s viewing audience.”

At launch, Gracenote Inclusion Analytics will offer data and insights around gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation of on-camera talent appearing in “popular broadcast, cable and SVOD TV programs,” though Nielsen plans to expand coverage to include theatrical movies as well as behind-the-camera talent, including directors, producers, writers and other “key roles.”

Women make up 52% of the U.S. population but comprise 38% of top recurring cast in popular broadcast, cable and streaming programming, while people of color account for 40% of the broader population but make up 27% of top TV roles, according to Nielsen’s recent “Being Seen On Screen: Diverse Representation & Inclusion on TV” report.

Nielsen says its inclusion measurement, for example, will help a distributor “highlight content within its catalog featuring diverse female leads for Women’s History Month or fuel recommendations connecting fans of diverse content with programs they’ll enjoy” and give a a studio the ability to “evaluate whether its content meets Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) benchmarks and highlight programs for licensing opportunities.” The Gracenote Inclusion Analytics can also identify for brands “the most inclusive content to inform its ad investment or product placement decisions.”

“The entertainment industry has a massive challenge ahead – to ensure the talent associated with popular TV programming mirrors today’s increasingly diverse viewing audiences,” Sandra Sims-Williams, senior vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion at Nielsen, said. “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.”

“Audiences today actively seek out programs that highlight people who resemble them and experiences that reflect their own,” Tina Wilson, head of analytics at Nielsen, said. “Under these circumstances, it’s critical that the entertainment industry create authentic content which resonates with underrepresented groups. Together, Nielsen and Gracenote are uniquely positioned to help the industry seize upon this opportunity by way of new data analytics solutions ensuring meaningful connections between content and audiences.”