Black Americans are Pushing the Boundaries of American Media and Entertainment

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.

Time Spent

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.

Social Media Creators

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.

The Impact on Media and Entertainment

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.

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Why Zero-Party Is The Future Of Digital Media Buying

While the demise of cookies may have expedited the shift to zero-party data, consumer demand is driving its adoption. Privacy and personalization are key concerns for consumers, and zero-party data delivers both.

Typically obtained through interactive experiences, opt-in forms, or consumer surveys, zero-party data comes directly from consumers. It can include explicit information, such as purchase history and preferences, and implicit information inferred through behaviors and interactions.

As zero-party data is provided voluntarily, it affords marketers an unrestricted view of consumer needs and preferences, facilitating long-term relationships and loyalty.

Zero-Party Data Optimizes DSP Performance

For digital media buyers using programmatic demand-side platforms (DSPs) such as MediaMath, The Trade Desk, and Google DV360, zero-party data is a game changer. These platforms rely on data to inform targeting and optimization decisions, and zero-party data provides a more nuanced and relevant understanding of consumers.

For example, a digital media buyer using a DSP may target a specific audience segment based on third-party data indicating a certain affinity level for a particular product or service. Zero-party data, however, offers a self-reported accounting of an individual's interests and preferences, allowing the buyer to create more personalized and effective campaigns.

Alternative to Third-Party Cookies

In addition to its benefits for targeting and optimization, zero-party data can also help digital marketers overcome the challenges posed by the phasing out of third-party cookies by 2024. Businesses must find alternative ways to gather and use audience data. Since zero-party data is obtained directly from consumers and can be used with their explicit consent, it provides a more privacy-sensitive and sustainable solution than its predecessor.

Zero-Party Data Collection

Digital media buyers can leverage zero-party data in various ways, such as creating interactive experiences or opt-in forms on their websites or social media channels. Through these tools, explicit information like purchase history and preferences can be collected, as well as implicit information inferred from behaviors and interactions.

Another option is to use marketing automation tools that allow businesses to collect zero-party data through email opt-ins and other direct communication with customers. Marketers can use these tools to segment and analyze zero-party data to better understand their audience and tailor their marketing efforts accordingly.

Zero-party data is the future. By putting consumers back into the equation instead of just focusing on their digital breadcrumbs, digital media buyers and marketers can usher in a new era of personalization resulting in more effective campaigns and increased brand loyalty. In the wake of the highly anticipated end of cookies, embracing zero-party data now and incorporating it into targeting and optimization strategies gives digital media buyers the tools to position themselves for success in a post-cookie world.

This blog post was originally published on MediaPost.

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Making Zero-Party Multicultural Data Accessible to DSPs

As the number of multicultural consumers in the U.S. continues to grow, so does their influence. According to the Selig Center, African American, Asian American, and Native American consumers have increased their purchasing power from $458 billion in 1990 to $3 trillion in 2020. Combined, this represents 17.2% of the nation's total buying power compared to 10.6% 30 years ago.

Hispanic buying power has also grown substantially over the last 30 years, from $213 billion in 1990 to $1.9 trillion in 2020, accounting for 11.1% of U.S. buying power in 2020, up from only 5% in 1990.

And yet when we look into digital media targeting, programmatic platforms are not providing media buyers access to the data needed to reach these increasingly influential consumers. Often, multicultural data is limited to Hispanic-only targeting, excluding Black, Asian, and Native American consumers and consequently $3 trillion in combined purchasing power.

Driven by our mission to demystify diverse communities through data, our team partnered with digital programmatic platforms to empower digital media buyers with the tools to access diverse audiences while using their favorite demand-side platforms (DSPs). As a market research firm, it was a gamble to throw our hat into the digital media ring, but the gamble paid off. Within our first month, ThinkNow Multicultural Audiences were activated by some of the world's largest media companies and agencies.

Our analysis of the top audiences activated confirmed our belief that there is a need for this integration and that diverse audiences should be a priority in the programmatic digital media ecosystem:

For example, among our financial and sports targeting, Black, Asian, and Hispanic consumers ranked among the top 10. We expect activations to continue trending in the upcoming months, further validating multicultural targeting as a viable and worthwhile effort.

Marketing that engages multicultural consumers can help drive business growth, according to the ANA's Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing (AIMM). Compared to the general population, multicultural media revenue under-indexes significantly. Although multicultural consumers now account for almost 40% of the population, multicultural media investments represent only 5.2% of the total advertising and marketing budget.

By making ThinkNow audiences available in all major DSPs, including TradeDesk, Google DV360, and Media Math, digital marketers can reach the full spectrum of U.S. consumers and strategically increase spending in key markets.

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