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Asian Americans are more digitally connected — and represented — than ever, says new Nielsen report

By Amy-Xiaoshi DePaola, AsAmNews intern

Asian Americans are the fastest-growing population in both the U.S. and the American media market.

A Nielsen report released Monday detailed the rise of Asian Americans in news, e-sports, movies and TV.

“For a long time, we were the basis of someone else’s narrative,” said Mariko Carpenter, the Nielsen Company’s vice president for strategic community alliances.

Carpenter pointed to examples of Mickey Rooney’s yellow face performance of I. Y. Yunioshi (Breakfast at Tiffany’s) and the one-dimensional portrayal of Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid movies.

“We’ve had little bits of exciting times,” she said, referring to recent mainstream productions like Crazy Rich Asians.

The Walt Disney Company is hoping to continue this momentum.

“What we’re trying to do… is reach kids and families to connect with our content,” said Christine Cadena, Disney’s vice president of diversity and inclusion.

She added that there’s “so much in the pipeline,” citing Marvel’s Eternals, Shang-Chi, and a second season of Mira, Royal Detective.

Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) is the voice of Queen Shanti in Mira, Royal Detective

Lifestyle host Veena Crownholm praised Mira, Royal Detective, the 2020 animated children’s series inspired by Indian culture.

The South Asian and Chinese mother watches the show with her children and attended the series premiere.

“It seems it’s a new age for the AAPI community,” Cadena observed. “We’ve moved beyond one-note portrayals.”

But opportunities for Asian Americans aren’t just growing; they’re being created by Asian Americans themselves.

Carpenter pointed to Asian American-centered blogs such as Angry Asian Man and such podcasts as Tigerbelly.

Asian Americans “would not have gotten their content green-lit if they hadn’t created their own audience and shifted into the mainstream,” she added.

Outside of producing, Asian Americans have also been consuming more media.

News consumption by Asian Americans has risen by 27% since the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to Carpenter. She speculates that this could be due to the impact of the coronavirus on Asian American businesses and hate crimes.

Asian Americans are also “the biggest players in the gaming industry,” in terms of e-sports.

The U.S. experienced a 45% growth in the gaming industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Asian Americans have been “early adopters” of technology.

Asian Americans also own smartphones and smart TVs and subscribe to streaming models, such as Netflix and Hulu, at higher rates than the total population.

“There are a lot of areas that markets can tap into,” Carpenter said.

Asian Americans are considered the fastest-growing consumers, according to the report. While many reside mainly in the West and Northeast parts of the U.S., Nielsen observed “significant growth” in Southern and Midwestern markets, including Chicago, Houston and Dallas.

The Asian American community should be seen as an asset, not a challenge to be “scared of,” Carpenter said.

AsAmNews has Asian America in its heart. We’re an all-volunteer effort of dedicated staff and interns. Check out our new Instagram account. Go to our  Twitter feed and Facebook page for more content. Please consider interning, joining our staff, or submitting a story. 

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