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Women & People Of Color Drive Streaming Film Triumphs

By Tamia Ncube

  • Women audiences represented 90% of the top 10 releases and 17 of the top 20 films ranked by household ratings in last year
  • The percentage of women in streaming rose by 6% to 31% in 2023

In 2023, women were the majority audience for nine of the top ten film releases and 17 of the top 20 by household ratings. Their share of streaming viewership rose to 31%, up from 25% in 2022. The surge in diverse viewership in streaming platforms marked a pivotal moment, showing a shift in the dynamics of the film industry. Women and people of color are not just passive content consumers but are increasingly taking charge in creating and producing films.

Why This Matters: The overrepresentation of households of color as viewers underscore their significant economic and cultural influence in shaping entertainment trends. This evolution has reshaped the landscape of content available to audiences worldwide. While there have been encouraging strides, the treatment of diversity within the industry still is a delicate balance between surface-level representation and meaningful change. This serves as a stark reminder of the industry’s fragile state and emphasizes the urgent need for Hollywood to move beyond performative gestures toward genuine inclusivity.

While streaming services soared in popularity, there is a looming concern as the 2024 global box office is projected to hit $31.5 billion; a hard 5% decline. This influence sharply contradicts the industry’s slow progress in providing fair opportunities and resources to diverse creators. The latest Hollywood Diversity Report provides a striking juxtaposition by revealing that even though diverse films perform well at the box office and receive higher ratings, there are still significant barriers behind the scenes. Despite increasing on-screen representation, women still meet limited opportunities for lead roles and are often confined to smaller budgets and fewer high-profile projects. Breaking into directing roles presents a similarly steep challenge.

What Next: Looking ahead, Darnell Hunt’s emphasis on sustaining diversity efforts underscores a critical urgency. Without substantial change, Hollywood risks not only losing its cultural relevance but also its economic viability. Audiences increasingly demand authentic representation, so studios must make a concerted effort to invest in diverse storytelling and talent at every level. In essence, diversity is not merely a buzzword-it is a fundamental aspect of good business. Until Hollywood commits to equalizing opportunities for everyone, we are missing out on stories that have the potential to resonate with audiences across the globe. The challenge for Hollywood lies not only in meeting this demand but also in redefining its role as a cultural steward for a diverse global audience.

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