Black Americans are key drivers of American popular culture both as creators and consumers. Their artistic endeavors and media consumption help drive the $720 Billion media and entertainment economy. As part of The Black Consumer Project, our four-part consumer research series, we looked at specifics of how Black Americans engage with media and entertainment. The results highlight how influential the segment truly is.
Most Americans engage with some form of media daily. However, Black Americans consume significantly more media and entertainment content than non-Black Americans. For example, non-Blacks watch an average of 2.6 hours a day of streaming services compared to 3.6 for Blacks. Blacks also over-indexed in consumption of broadcast TV, online gaming, listening to music and podcasts and engaging with others on social media. Not only do they watch more and listen more, but they’re also more engaged while doing it for most activities. Forty-nine percent of Black Americans say they’re fully engaged while listening to music vs. 40% of non-Blacks, and 57% say they’re fully engaged while watching streaming services vs. 54% of non-Blacks.
Blacks and over twice as likely to follow the NBA. Interest in both these sports is higher among Blacks at the college level as well. Black Americans were also more likely to follow boxing and track and field. They showed less interest than non-Blacks in baseball or NASCAR but were about equally as interested in Major League Soccer (MLS). Interest in following all sports increased with income, especially for sports like soccer, tennis and golf.
Online gaming hasn’t always been a safe space for women and people of color. That is not surprising, considering a survey conducted in 2021 by the International Game Developers Association found that only 30% were women and only 4% of game developers in the U.S. identify as Black. This has led to a dearth of Black protagonists in games dominated by White males.
Even so, Black Americans are gamers. Being six years younger than the national median age helps boost their participation in gaming-related activities. They play differently, though. Black Americans are more likely to play video games in-person and with friends and family than non-Blacks, and they’re also slightly more likely to play on a gaming console and less likely to play on a PC.
When watching others play, they are more likely to go to YouTube and less likely to watch on Twitch.
Black Americans were instrumental in defining American music, dance, fashion and more. They are now helping shape online content. Sixty-two percent of Black Gen Z and 66% of Black Millennials have created or posted original content online in the past 30 days. The most popular site for online content creation among all ethnic groups is still Facebook with Instagram coming in second. Black creators, however, are less likely to post on Facebook (64% vs. 70%) and more likely to post on YouTube (39% vs. 28%) and equally likely to post on Instagram (47% vs. 48%).
Black Americans are monetizing their online content at similar rates as non-Blacks with Black men leading the way at 41% monetizing. Among those not currently monetizing, Black respondents were more likely to say they would monetize in the future.
Black American creators have pushed the boundaries of our cultural landscape, while Black consumers have helped to shape the tastes and trends of American pop culture. While Black consumers are more likely to engage with media content than non-Blacks, their participation cannot be taken for granted. They are hungry for culturally relevant content and gravitate towards outlets that deliver. Among streaming services, Peacock launched with shows like Bel-Air and The Best Man which drew in Black audiences, especially Gen X, which caused it to over-index among Black viewers.
However, platforms that stream online gamers, like Twitch, haven’t done a good job of stopping racist harassment prompting Black audiences to gravitate towards YouTube and other platforms. As we move forward, it is important to continue to celebrate and amplify the contributions of Black Americans to American culture and to create opportunities for their voices to be heard and their stories to be told.
Click to watch The Black Consumer Project here.