For more than 20 years, Nov. 21 has been recognized as World Television Day. As proclaimed by the United Nations, the day recognizes TV’s increasing impact on consumers’ decision-making process and day-to-day lives.
This year, World Television Day centers on diversity in two forms: diversity of content and diversity on-screen. We must continue to recognize television’s power to encourage acceptance by conveying diversity in all forms.
Educate, entertain, inform
In today’s world, television is no longer the box in the living room with a few channels that everyone gathers around at night. TV, in its many forms, is everywhere from our smartphones, tablets and PCs to theaters and the screen at home. Consumers have an insatiable appetite for content that’s only growing stronger as technology makes it easier to consume.
Television connects us all through three key elements: entertainment, education and information. Of the three, the most underestimated is TV’s power to inform and shape perspectives, ultimately shifting public opinion. Dating back to its earliest origins, TV was viewed as a public service tool that informed the public.
TV continues to live up to that legacy in the U.S. and abroad. People trust news from TV sources more than any other medium. According to The Media Insight Project, when asked to name the source people rely on most for the news topics they follow closely, about a third (31%) cited a national TV station/program and about a quarter (24%) said a local TV station/program. That’s nearly half of respondents turning to TV. The other half are split between radio, specialty publications, newspapers or online sources, including blogs and social media.
Whether in the form of entertainment programming, educational content or informative news media, consumers trust what they see on TV.
Driving change with on-screen diversity
With trust comes the power to influence. Research proves a key catalyst that continues to drive social change is media representation. When audiences see positive representations of minority groups on-screen, they are more likely to develop a positive and accepting attitude toward those groups.
To encourage acceptance and progression in today’s world, TV must remain true to telling diverse stories from all walks of life. From people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ+ community, ethnic voices, stories of women’s issues and more, TV should always accurately represent the diverse world we live in today.
It’s true that you can’t be what you can’t see; TV is the medium that allows you to see.
The future of TV’s diversity
With audiences’ ever-evolving consumption methods, we are seeing a diversification in what TV means to people. I believe TV will always mean high-quality content that shows diverse stories representative of the world we live in.
With this plethora of diversified content, there’s an opportunity for consumers to engage much more actively with content. Consumers are demanding this in the form of interactive storytelling, social engagement from our favorite brands and stars and more.
Over the coming years, we will also see increased energy around different entertainment platforms like AR, VR and volumetric displays. The viewer will be able to be part of the story, feel like they’re actually in it and help determine its progress and outcome.
There’s universally appealing content and there’s also niche content created for specific audiences. A lot of this content lives on cable channels, but certainly not exclusively. Yes, you look to particularly AVOD streaming services to provide familiar, nostalgic and niche content, even in multiple languages, but consumers are also rediscovering the antenna. Now, the secondary and tertiary signals of broadcast channels are becoming a hotbed for niche content as well.
TV of the future will embrace all these elements and curate diverse programming geared toward specific audiences and their preferred consumption methods.