HomeAAPI ActorsHollywood could gain $4 billion by improving AAPI representation

Hollywood could gain $4 billion by improving AAPI representation

A recent report has shown that improved AAPI representation and authenticity in media could lead to a massive increase in revenue for the film and television industry, even amongst recent prominence on the big screen.

The study, conducted by McKinsey & Company and published last Wednesday, analyzes the consumption of media by Asian Americans and its relation to AAPI representation on-screen. McKinsey surveyed 1,000 AAPI consumers to learn more about their perceptions of representation.

The results showed that half of the respondents would be more willing to spend money on film and TV if their experiences were represented more authentically. This sentiment is also growing amongst consumers aged 18 – 44, who already represent a rapidly growing portion of AAPI consumers.

The report also uncovered disparities among the spending habits of different consumer groups. While the study showed that Asian American consumers earn 30% more when compared to peers of other racial groups, the amount of income spent is less than their peers. In regards to film and TV, Asian Americans spend 0.4% of their income on television and film, compared to 0.9% spent by White and Black Americans.

The best course of action to boost revenue spending, according to the study, is better media representation. Thirty percent of the survey respondents said that their racial and ethnic background was authentically portrayed in the media they watched. This statement was particularly prominent in East Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pasifika respondents. Such sentiments are also shared amongst AAPI entertainment industry experts, as 80% of the respondents don’t believe AAPI experiences are widely represented in American media.

Improved representation would lead to an increased willingness of AAPI viewers to spend money on content, thus leading to an estimated $2 billion being generated per year. AAPI populations continue to grow, and are expected to make up 9% of the U.S. population by 2060. With that in mind, the market opportunity could see an increase of up to $4 billion and $8 billion.

Even amidst growing representation, there seems to be a skew in genres for AAPI leads. The majority of AAPI leads appear in action-adventure films, which are mostly race-agnostic rather than focusing on AAPI cultural experiences. Similar patterns appear in television as well.

AAPI representation in television varies depending on genre. According to McKinsey, 55% of 903 episodes from 2018 to 2022 with AAPI leads were race-agnostic. Thirty-five percent of those 903 episodes were a part of animated series, contrasting a smaller percentage of dramas and non-scripted television.

McKinsey also mentions how “off-screen talent and on-screen representation could reinforce each other,” as people in important off-screen roles, such as directors, writers, producers, etc., influence who gets on-screen roles. The study itself found that AAPI off-screen talent is connected to AAPI on-screen talent. Twenty-one percent of U.S. shows with at least one AAPI person in a key off-screen role had an AAPI lead. When looking at U.S. films with no AAPI professionals in off-screen roles, 6% of them only had one AAPI lead. When AAPI talent is present off-screen, the number of films with AAPI leads increases to 37%.

While film and TV are excellent ways to boost representation, the authors state that companies shouldn’t act out of altruism.

“The reward for getting it right could be a windfall of billions of dollars in annual revenues—and the prize will only grow,” the authors say. “Progress won’t be easy, but when the enhanced richness and authenticity of storytelling could be accompanied by such a substantial opportunity, the business case is clear.”.

AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Follow us on FacebookX, InstagramTikTok and YouTube. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts to produce diverse content about the AAPI communities. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.


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