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Women 50+ Are Underrepresented On Top TV Programs

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Gracenote Inclusion Analytics shows that women over the age of 50 are hardly seen on screen, and are portrayed in narrow narratives

NEW YORK, March 19, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- To commemorate Women's History Month, Nielsen (NYSE: NLSN) today released "Shattering Stereotypes: How Today's Women Over 50 are Redefining What's Possible On-Screen, At Work and At Home", part of the Nielsen Diverse Intelligence Series. Using custom analysis from the recently-launched Gracenote Inclusion Analytics, the report uncovers that women over the age of 50 are underrepresented on top TV programs and when they are seen, they often play stereotypical roles.

(PRNewsfoto/Nielsen)
(PRNewsfoto/Nielsen)

"Through this report, we aim to raise awareness in the media industry about women 50+ who are such a critical part of our communities and families," said Tina Wilson, Nielsen EVP, Analytics. "They have shattered many glass ceilings in life — as business leaders, community activists and balancing careers with caregiving — yet the media industry is missing out on portraying these realities. Forward-thinking content creators and brands know there's value in changing that."

When it comes to representation on TV, Gracenote Inclusion Analytics show that men are on-screen more than women (62% screen time vs. 38%), even though women make up more than half of the U.S. population. But for women over age 50, who represent 20% of the population, the share of time on-screen plummets to just 8%.

When women over 50 are cast in shows, the stories often center around matriarchal and motherly themes. Conversely, in shows that have high female representation, but where none of the female cast members were over 50, the top themes were intrigue, getting away and mysterious situations, interviews and custody disputes. Women 50+ rarely see themselves in content, and when they do, they often find a reflection of a woman that doesn't match their multi -faceted relevance, or reality.

"The 50-plus woman is successfully redefining these years as her new prime time! But while we are more active, more ambitious and more influential now than ever, a search for ourselves on-screen betrays our near invisibility," said Sandra Sims-Williams, SVP, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Nielsen. "As the leader of Nielsen's DE&I team, I want to raise awareness of the power of my peers through our insights about the media we are consuming and how we are consuming it."

What women over 50 want to see on screen is as diverse as they are:

  • Most viewed programs include Sunday Night Football, red carpet events, talent competitions and all-star Jeopardy specials.

  • In 2020, the top 10 broadcast primetime programs featured diverse leading cast members. Across these most watched series, and women averaged a 46% share of screen.

  • The top 10 list of most-watched series for Black women and Afro-Latinas over 50 was dominated by weekly NFL kickoffs, talent competitions and primetime dramas with Black female leads.

  • Asian women over 50 watched the most news programs compared with their counterparts across other racial and ethnic backgrounds.

  • Spanish-language talent shows, awards shows and novelas were the most popular program types on broadcast TV among Hispanic women.

  • The top broadcast shows among same gender female spouses and partners over age 50 include lead characters who are lesbians.

These women are also watching content more on internet-connected devices. Usage during primetime had increased by 51% for women over age 65, a year over year (2020 - 21) increase that outpaced women 50-64 and women overall. They are also using devices to keep up with their lives on the go, with 70% smartphone ownership.

For more information and to download "Shattering Stereotypes", visit nielsen.com/inclusionanalytics. To learn more about Gracenote inclusion analytics, visit https://www.gracenote.com/video/inclusion-analytics.

ABOUT NIELSEN
Nielsen Holdings plc (NYSE: NLSN) is a leading global data and analytics company that provides a holistic and objective understanding of the media industry. With offerings spanning audience measurement, audience outcomes and content, Nielsen offers its clients and partners simple solutions to complex questions and optimizes the value of their investments and growth strategies. It is the only company that can offer de-duplicated cross-media audience measurement. Audience is EverythingTM to Nielsen and its clients, and Nielsen is committed to ensuring that every voice counts.

An S&P 500 company, Nielsen offers measurement and analytics service in nearly 60 countries. Learn more at www.nielsen.com or www.nielsen.com/investors and connect with us on twitter.com/Nielsen, linkedin.com/company/nielsen, facebook.com/Nielsen and instagram.com/lifeatnielsen.

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SOURCE Nielsen