Gender Diversity on Cable News: An Analysis of On-Screen Talent and Viewership
45 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2023 Last revised: 29 Feb 2024
Date Written: May 29, 2023
This research analyzes on-screen gender diversity among cable news networks in the United States, focusing on the three major networks (CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC) from 2010 to 2021. We examine the amount of time women are shown on screen compared to men, the topics women are asked to discuss compared to their male counterparts, and the effect of the gender of on-screen talent on viewership. We also investigate how these patterns differ on a number of important dimensions: across the three major networks, through time, between different types of programs, between male vs. female viewers, and depending on viewers' familiarity with the on-screen talent. We find that viewership responds positively when women receive a greater portion of screen time, and that this effect becomes more favorable over the second half of the study period. Although some cable news shows have recognized these patterns and gradually adjusted their on-screen product over the years, the cable news networks as a whole still lag behind viewers' preferences regarding the amount of screen time given to women. Our results suggest that cable news networks are losing potential viewers by limiting women's opportunities to appear on screen.
Keywords: Gender representation, Consumer preferences, Product design, Cable news, Media
JEL Classification: J16, L82, M31, D12
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