(May 1, 2012) At a time when a plethora of new channels and programs are targeting the African-American television audience, a newly conducted survey reveals that the overwhelming majority of these viewers are dissatisfied with their current programming options. When asked “are you satisfied with the variety of Black TV programs now on the air?” 97% of the African-Americans who voluntarily participated in the survey said they were not satisfied.
A coalition of consumer groups, media activists, clergy and concerned citizens were brought together by Black Heritage Network and commissioned Target Market News to conduct a national online survey. The questionnaire asked African-American households about their viewing habits and the kind of programming choices they’d like to have.
“The television industry has long been in the habit of asking what African-Americans watched,” said Ken Smikle, president of Target Market News. “This was a rare opportunity for this audience to tell the industry what it is they would prefer to watch. It should be no surprise that their answers are contrary to most of the conventional wisdom about what Black viewers preferences would be.”
When asked “What types of Black-oriented programs would you like to see more of?” the majority wanted more programming featuring:
- Documentaries (75%)
- History (71%)
- The Arts (68%)
- Independent Films (65%)
- News (59%)
- Black-oriented Talk Shows (34%)
- Cooking Shows (29%)
- Sports-related Programs (24%)
What’s most significant about these responses is the opportunity that they point to. According to data from Nielsen, African-Americans have traditionally consumed more hours of television than other segments of the population. At the same time, the survey suggests that they may be only marginally enthusiastic about they’re watching.
“The recent success of ABC’s new political drama, ‘Scandal,’ proves that African-Americans will flock to shows where they can see themselves in positive, yet non-traditional roles,” said Smikle. Blacks are 13% of the TV households in the U.S., but they were 23% of the total audience watching the first three episodes of the new series.
Nearly half of survey participants (47%) said they watch about equal amounts of network and cable offerings. About a third (32.8%) said they view mostly cable programs, and 19.8% claimed they spent more time watching broadcast network shows. Nearly two-thirds (73%) said they watch public television shows.
“The results clearly reflect a frustration for the kind of Black-oriented programming that has long been ignored by the industry,” said Smikle. “But it also demonstrates an opportunity for broadcasters, cable and satellite, advertisers and producers. The kinds of programs that are desired by these respondent would be of interest to all segments of the viewing audience, not just African-Americans. It will be interesting to see if the new Black-targeted digital and cable channels will be able to take advantage of this strong demand.”
The survey was conducted online from Feb. 13 – March 31 through the dedicated Web site, WhatIWantToSee.com. The results are based on responses given by 531 self-identified African-Americans from across the U.S. The margin of error is +/- 4%.
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