Do Black People Really Want Quality TV?

And what does the history of our viewing patterns mean for the future of Scandal?

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ABC's Scandal, the political drama produced by Shonda Rhimes and starring Kerry Washington, debuted in early April with more than 7 million viewers, including 1.88 million African-American viewers. It has now settled into the No. 2 position among most watched broadcast TV shows in African-American households, the Tri-State Defender reports. But the same reporting suggests that it's still too early to tell whether this type of success for the "quality" series will last, especially considering past patterns related to black viewership.

From the Tri-State Defender:

Nearly all African Americans polled -- 97 percent -- say they are unhappy with the African-American TV programs currently on air. Seventy-five percent say they want more documentaries, 71 percent prefer more history, 68 percent desire to see more independent films and 59 percent would like to see more news, according to a new study conducted by Target Market News, a Chicago-based organization that tracks African-American consumer market trends.

But what African Americans say they want and what they’re watching are two different things.

According to Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy, African Americans watch television seven hours, 12 minutes per day, 40 percent more than whites (five hours and two minutes per day). And they’re not watching “Mythbusters” on the Discovery Channel or “Frontline” on PBS.

After sporting events, which received high viewership among African Americans and whites, sitcoms and music awards shows dominated the list of top 10 cable programs African Americans watched between Sept. 19, 2011 and Jan. 29, 2012.

Based on data collected by Nielsen, Tyler Perry’s “For Better or Worse” (TBS) topped the list with nearly 2.5 million viewers, followed by the “Soul Train Awards” on BET (2.4 million), and “The Game” also on BET (2.1 million)

Seems to us that there's a lot of gray area between Frontline and Tyler Perry, and Scandal just might represent the balance a lot of people were looking for.

Read more at the Tri-State Defender.

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