Asian representation is slowly growing in TV shows, Nielsen finds

Nielsen's latest insights report, which also show increased family viewing, was released in honor of AAPI Heritage Month.

Asian representation is slowly growing in TV shows, Nielsen finds

For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Nielsen released its latest collection of insights on Asian representation in TV, advertising and gaming, as well as the viewing habits of Asian American audiences.

Nielsen's 2022 Asian Diverse Intelligence Series Insights report found growth in on-screen Asian representation and a positive lift for brands that advertise alongside inclusive programming.

In 2021, Asian talent was present in half of the 10 most-watched shows by American audiences, up from a complete absence in the same tier the year before. And on streaming platforms, the number of shows with Asian characters and themes has doubled. Overall, AAPI representation across the top 1,500 broadcast, cable and streaming shows is growing but remains minuscule: 4.6% in 2021 compared to 3.5% in 2020.

For Asian American audiences, Nielsen found that family TV screenings have become an increasing habit. On Netflix specifically, Gen Z viewers participated in co-viewing more than four times that of other age groups, and 8.4% of Asian Americans aged 18-24 watch alongside someone 65-74. Of the Asian audience surveyed, over half reported a greater intention to shop with brands that advertise during programming with Asian representation.

When it comes to gaming, more than half of Asian American gamers, 58%, agreed that video games have improved in representing diverse cultures in the last five years, Nielsen found.

“The media industry has continued to invest in content that is diverse, inclusive, and more accurately incorporates Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander themes and narratives,” said Pat Ratulangi, VP of global communications, diversity, equity and inclusion for Nielsen, in a statement. “We are doing our part to fight anti-Asian sentiment and the stereotypes that are reinforced by the way Asian Americans are portrayed on screen – strengthening the need to keep highlighting Asian stories through culturally inclusive programming across the industry.”

RSVP for Ad Age In-Depth: TV Pivot on May 24 and 25 at