How Streaming Services Contribute to Diversity & Inclusivity in the Media
The country continues to deal with the inequality issues raised by the #metoo, and Black Lives Matter social movements. Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime help the entertainment industry react to pressure to face its history with diversity and inclusivity.
Viewers looking for more diversity in television and movie character portrayals opt for streaming services over traditional network channels. Streaming television networks offer more diverse on-screen minority representation while showcasing stories involving people of color than broadcast and cable programming.
Focusing on diversity in television, podcasts, music, and video game streaming services goes beyond a basic desire for people of varying races to see themselves represented in their entertainment choices. A lack of diversity in entertainment and the newest forms of journalism can have adverse mental health effects on young viewers.
TV Streaming Services
Producing television and feature film content that includes diverse characters from different backgrounds supports an inclusive environment for a broader range of viewing audiences. Nielsen’s recent report measuring the entertainment industry’s progress toward on-screen inclusion revealed that 92% of all programs available on streaming services included a diverse mix of race, gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity.
A 2020 Horowitz study reports that over half of all viewers say that streaming platform programming is better than broadcast and cable networks at Black, gay, and women representation by showcasing stories about and created by members of minority communities. Movies and ongoing and limited series available on streaming services display more diversity in TV than audiences have ever seen.
Podcasts serve as the modern alternative to traditional radio with more flexibility, convenience, and range. There are now over 850,000 podcasts available worldwide, with over 30 million episodes played on computers, smartphones, and other mobile devices. You can find a selection of podcasts on just about any topic originating from anywhere in the world.
The long-form nature and unrestricted content found in podcasts create ideal conditions to develop a wide-ranging social impact on broader diversity and inclusion issues. Thousands of podcasts are available covering a seemingly endless variety of genres and subjects. Topics covering social advocacy issues promote the free-flowing exchange of thoughts and ideas needed for change.
Podcasts devoted to diversity and inclusion educate the public on racial biases and the harm a lack of media diversity can cause to groups of people. When citizens are more informed and understand the issues, they can better engage in the discussions that influence progressive change. With virtually no time or content limits, podcasts are ideal for breaking down the racial issues that inhibit diversity and inclusion in TV and movies.
Music Streaming Services
From Jimmy Hendrix and Bob Dylan to Beyoncé and Ke$ha, musicians have played significant roles in social activism and the calls for justice, diversity, and inclusion throughout modern history. Some music lovers may miss the traditional record store experience, but music streaming services offer the most diverse music selection possible in the digital age.
Features and functions on music streaming platforms encourage the expansion of the user’s musical tastes and portfolio. Users are exposed to diverse options based on their history and preferences, allowing them to find artists, bands, and music they could never have found on their own. Music streaming users will base their choice more on how the music makes them feel rather than the specific genre or the artist.
Access to music through streaming services has resulted in more music being listened to by a wider variety of artists than ever before. The ability to discover new music and re-discover old favorites makes music streaming services the ideal medium to expand the diversity of content to include more artists and music genres. It allows artists to expose their work to a wider and more inclusive audience.
Video Game Streaming
The decades-old stereotype of a young, white male sitting in his parent's basement playing video games is finally evolving into more diverse audiences and game content. While streaming video game companies continue to lack diversity in senior roles, minority groups gain representation as gamers and in the industry's creative production positions. Characters and storylines are more diverse in the representation of race and gender.
A heightened focus on diversity and inclusion in streaming video gameplay cannot resolve many of the issues surrounding video gameplay, such as the debate surrounding gaming’s mental health effects. Being more inclusive and aware of other people and their unique circumstances helps provide a safe and diverse gaming environment for players of all ages and types.
The Benefits of Representation in the Media
Everyone benefits when all people are represented both on and off camera of their favorite television shows and movies. Seeing people of their own race and ethnicity helps children develop a better sense of themselves and where they fit in their world.
In an era of ongoing tensions, moving streaming services towards more balanced and diverse television content is a positive move towards social peace and unity.
The following are examples of benefits diverse representation in the media has throughout the culture:
- Offers the most honest presentation of real-life experience in a diverse world.
- Increases the exposure of minorities and their culture to others.
- Empowers individuals of previously oppressed and underrepresented minority groups.
- Provides minorities an enhanced sense of self-worth and value.
- Expands career and advancement opportunities for minorities in the entertainment and news media.
The Future of Representation in Streaming Services
Modern viewers of television and movies are more aware of the importance and growing inclusion of a more diverse representation of minorities in characters, themes, and stories. The entertainment and news media industries are working to attract diverse audiences by hiring actors, writers, directors, and producers of color and varying ethnicities and sexual orientations.
Progress still needs to be made concerning the inclusion of minorities in the top decision-making roles throughout the entertainment industry. While streaming services help provide more inclusive programming, the issue will remain prevalent without diversity in the highest management positions.