Diversity on screen and behind the camera are key factors driving international audiences, according to a consumer survey conducted by Starz, in partnership with the Center for Scholars & Storytellers at UCLA.
The study, which examined consumer perceptions and demands for diverse and inclusive media representation, will be unveiled at the Starz #TakeTheLead “Transparency Talk” on March 16 to celebrate Women’s History Month.
The enlightening report revealed that more than 75% of international audiences want to see multicultural content, especially respondents from Mexico (88.5%), India (86.1%) and Colombia (84.9%).
Another interesting finding is the large proportion (64.8%) of respondents who said that “seeing people from different groups/backgrounds than their own in TV and media makes them feel more empathy toward others.”
Based on answers from adults aged 18 to 90 across several countries, there is a “need to continue improving representation on and off screen for global audiences” in current TV and media. Only 38.4% of respondents feel their “own identity is accurately represented.”
“This report provides firm data that the international consumer cares as much and sometimes more than United States’ audiences about what they see on screen and who is behind the screen,” said Yalda T. Uhls, founder of the Center for Scholars & Storytellers at UCLA.
The survey showed that women feel significantly less represented compared to men, while the majority of respondents feel they were not accurately represented. Only 35% of women reported that their identity is well represented in current media content, compared to 41% of men. Nearly 60% respondents said it was important to them to have people from diverse backgrounds behind the camera. Diversity behind the camera was most important in India (70.6%), Colombia (65.7%) and Brazil (63.5%).
A Transparency Talk will be moderated on Wednesday by Princess Sarah Culberson, the co-founder of Sierra Leone Rising, with panelists including Superna Kalle, Starz’s president of international networks; Mira Sorvino, actor, advocate and UN Ambassador; Abbe Land, the executive director of the LA County Women and Girls Initiative; Emiliana Guereca, the founder and executive director of Women’s March Foundation; and Michelle Milford Morse, VPt of the UN Foundation for girls and women strategy.
The Starz #TakeTheLead initiative was launched in 2021 to “deepen its existing commitment to narratives by, about and for women and underrepresented audiences.” The company said the first study revealed that the pay-TV group was ahead of the curve “with 63.2% series leads who are people of color, 54.6% female showrunners and a 75% female executive team.”