Diverse Shows Find Favor With Viewers


Strong ratings performances from a number of multicultural-themed shows during the 2014-15 television season are proving that an audience exists for quality programming featuring people of color.

The Jan. 6 season-three debut of OWN’s primetime soap opera Tyler Perry’s The Haves and The Have Nots set a network ratings record for a series premiere, averaging 3.22 million viewers and ranking as the network’s second most-watched telecast among men.

The Fox broadcast network’s drama series Empire, starring Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson, drew nearly 10 million viewers for its Jan. 7 premiere, the second-biggest launch on broadcast TV this season behind ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder, starring African-American actress and recent People’s Choice Award winner Viola Davis.

Add ABC’s comedy sitcom Black-ish to the list, and three of the highest-rated new series for the season are headed by African-American actors and/or actresses.

The Latino family dramedy Jane the Virgin on The CW was the best reviewed new series, according to Ratings Intelligence, and the show’s star, Gina Rodriguez, last week won a Golden Globe award for Best Actress in a TV comedy — the network’s first major Golden Globes win.

Also, ABC Latino family sitcom Cristela was the only freshman comedy besides Black-ish to get a full-season pickup, according to Ratings Intelligence.

The Television Critics Association Press Tour provided TV writers and viewers with a glimpse at several new projects featuring multicultural characters and storylines. ABC will soon air the Asian-themed series Fresh off the Boat, while TV One on Feb. 7 will launch a monthly series of original movies featuring African-American themes, starting with White Water.

BET will debut its first-ever mini-series The Book of Negroes, based on Lawrence Hill’s award-winning novel chronicling the life of a young slave woman who, in exchange for her freedom, sides with the British during the Revolutionary War.