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Black Audiences Turn to More Representative Streaming Options

As more streaming services emerge, diverse audiences are turning away from legacy cable companies in search of content that resonates with them. A new study from Horowitz Research shows that Black audiences, in particular, are seeking streaming options.

It wasn’t so long ago that Black viewers were a big part of the cable landscape. Back in 2017, the study found multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) reached about 88 percent of Black households. Today, the number has declined to 61 percent. While there’s still a clear majority involved, the sheer rate of decline is making some take notice.

In fact, Black household viewing habits are changing the landscape. Four in 10 Black households are currently using an amalgamation of antennas and streaming services for their viewing. Just one in four could say that they used only legacy MVPD services with no streaming at all.

Also, the study noted that Black households are increasing their focus on streaming content in general. Back in 2017, Horowitz created the term “content omnivore”, a term which refers to the practice of using both cable and streaming services at the same time. In 2018, Horowitz found 69 percent of Black households to be “content omnivores.” By 2021, however, that number dropped to just 33 percent.

Horowitz has been following the intersection of Black households and streaming for years now. Back in 2016, the analyst released a study showing that Black households increasingly were looking for content that was representative of themselves and their lives. That study found that 58 percent of Black viewers were drawn to shows with a mainly Black cast. Another 45 percent preferred shows that had “race-related topics” as part of the show’s plot.

Streaming providers, in turn, are starting to respond to these developments accordingly. Back in August, we saw the release of Watch This!, a streaming platform with a range of shows and topics geared to the generally-underserved Black viewer.

That in turn should put a substantial increase in demand for original programming with a focus on Black viewers. Knowing what we know about the growth of streaming, and the preferences of diverse audiences, there’s a huge opportunity for content companies to serve them.

Black-focused Streaming Options

  • BET+ (Black entertainment) - $9.99 / month
  • ALLBLK (formerly UMC - Black entertainment) - $4.99 / month
  • kweliTV (Black entertainment) - $5.99 / month
  • Brown Sugar (classic Black films) - $3.99 / month

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