Black people, from America to overseas, consume more media than any other group.

The Black community consumes more media than any other group in the country and beyond.

However, many from the community still chafe at the type of representation that Black people receive in the media.

Statistics show that over two-thirds of Black people feel that representation of their community in the media is inadequate.

Polite Corley, who is African-American, said, “When it comes to the media consumption of Black America, it really just means content is key to our culture. ‘Have you seen this show? Have you heard about this album? Stream this latest hit.’ Those are forms of cultural cachet.”

Emi Tuyetnhi Tran of NBC News reported, “Black Americans regularly outpace the rest of general U.S. population in terms of media consumption, clocking more than 81 hours per week with media, such as television, radio and the internet. For Black people 65 and older, that figure rises to more than 92 hours each week, according to the [Nielsen] report.”

Tran continued, “Black Americans are more likely than the general population to access three or more streaming services, according to Nielsen. Around 73% of Black individuals pay for three or more subscription-based streaming services, compared to 60% of all audiences.”

Nevertheless, the Black audiences (even those outside the United States in countries like the United Kingdom, Brazil, Nigeria and South Africa) feel underrepresented and misrepresented.

Corley added, “What the prevailing message for me is that the practices of years past when maybe just having one character wasn’t enough—the funny best friend or the nice loving mom. People want the nuance and intersectionality and the authenticity.”

In a Pew Research Center survey from early 2023, most Black Americans felt that news coverage of their community members was more negative than news of coverage of non-Black Americans.

Those negative images or lack of images can hurt a media company’s bottom line too with 59 percent of Black Americans stating that they were more likely to support a brand that featured other Black Americans.

Corley, who serves Vice President, Diverse Insights & partnerships at Nielsen, said, “Brands and programmers trying to connect with Black America have their work cut out for them to push beyond ‘urban’ and represent the spectrum of African-American traditions as well as emerging nuance from the expanding Black immigrant and Black first-generation perspectives. When considering any kind of engagement with Black audiences, it’s key to remember that Black culture is vast and expansive, and the global exchange of influence needs to be taken into account.”

Tran reported, “It may also be a missed opportunity for media companies, content creators and brands given the increasing buying power of Black consumers, according to the Nielsen report, which writes that today’s Black buying power at $1.7 trillion is estimated to top $2 trillion by 2026.”

Corley said, “I hope what the report shows is the increased demand, the opportunity to continue to meet that demand, and that this is an investment and not a risk or something that we should be retreating from.”

The report also showed that people across the Black diaspora followed and supported Black content creators from countries other than their own.

Nielsen’s report also found some other key nuggets.

According to PRNewswire, “Black Millennials rely heavily on social media for access to news content—naming social media, YouTube and cable TV as top news sources in Nielsen’s study.

“Black Millennials were more likely among all Black people and all Millennials overall to feel that local TV news isn’t a reliable information source, pointing to a need to differentiate the value of local journalism and maintain trust…

“As of September 2023, broadband-only (BBO) TV homes, which access TV content through an internet connection, had grown to account for nearly 44% of Black TV households—up from less than 13% back in 2019.

“While 3.2% of total TV usage is with free, ad-supported television (FAST) services like Tubi, Pluto TV and Roku Channel combined, Black viewers spend nearly 4% of their total time with Tubi alone.”

While Black people have often said that the media portrays the Black community in an overt negative way, statistics might back up that assumption.

In 2018, C.K. of The Economist reported that former President Donald Trump found it surprising that a member of the Congressional Black Caucus told him that cutting welfare would hurt many of her constituents, “not all of whom are Black.”

To which Trump, reportedly responded, “Really? Then what are they?”

Although the former president did not realize that most welfare recipients were White, he was not alone in the assumption.

And many people believe that negative portrayals of Black people in the news media is the culprit for that false belief.

C.K. reported, “The poverty rate amongst Black Americans, at 22%, is higher than the American average of 13%. But Black people make up only 9 (million) of the 41 (million) poor Americans. The Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-profit focused on health-care, found that in only five states for which it had that data and the District of Columbia, were there more Black poor people than White. Black Americans are more likely to be recipients of means-tested welfare (programs) like Medicaid or Housing Assistance—at 41% participation in one or more (programs) in 2012 that is about twice the national average. That suggests that Black people make up about 26% of all recipients.”

Experts believe that is imperative that companies (media and non-media) know some of these facts about the Black audience if they want to truly profit from Black consumers.

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