Audiences and advertisers alike are flocking to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT)-inclusive programs. Representing 24% of broadcast primetime scripted and reality shows last season, these series garnered 28% of broadcast primetime TV viewing and 22% of ad dollars, according to Nielsen data.
Teen and Millennial viewers in particular dedicated over a third of their primetime scripted TV viewing to series depicting at least one regular or recurring LGBT character. Females 50+ were attracted to realities featuring LGBT cast-members, hosts, judges and/or competitors, dedicating a significant share of their reality TV time to these programs. Overall, one in four scripted series and one in five reality shows were LGBT-inclusive.
According to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the presence of regularly-appearing LGBT characters accounted for 3.9% of all scripted series regular characters (broadcast and cable) during the 2010-2011 season, reaching a record high. Show lists (see below) were determined by GLAAD as part of its “Where We Are On TV Report: 2011-2012 Season,” and includes scripted programs such as Modern Family, Grey’s Anatomy, The Office, 90210, Glee and House, as well as reality shows such as Dancing with the Stars and Big Brother 12.
The number of scripted LGBT series regulars found on mainstream cable networks has also fallen slightly to 28 in the upcoming season. GLAAD counted 26 additional recurring characters on cable.
Audiences for LGBT-inclusive shows were as diverse as the programs themselves, though certain demos appear to have been more exposed to LGBT images. Within the 25-49 age demo, LGBT-inclusive programs (and its advertisers) were most likely to reach:
College-educated white females
Small white collar households
Budding families (those with 3 or fewer members)
Non-white, professional Millennials without children also tended to watch LGBT-inclusive shows more frequently than primetime in general.
LGBT-Inclusive characters were incorporated into shows that skewed towards Eastern and Pacific viewers and were less watched by Midwesterners. This differential was most pronounced among 18-24 year olds in the Midwest, especially when compared to 18-24 year olds in other regions of the U.S.
LGBT characters and plots were woven into some of the most popular broadcast primetime programs last season, and advertisers were investing their budgets there too. Motion pictures and department stores were the top categories that drove advertising on LGBT-inclusive programming, devoting 28.3% and 27.6% of their ad dollars, respectively.
Credit cards, telephone, and tech companies also spent a significant share of ad dollars with LGBT-friendly programs. Of the top 10 overall advertising categories, retail and pharmaceuticals dedicated less of their ad budgets to these shows than they did on the average for all categories.