Ethnic and gender diversity among episodic television directors continued to increase in the 2016-17 TV season, the Directors Guild of America (DGA) said Tuesday.
According to the guild, the percentage of episodes directed by ethnic minorities increased 3 percent to a record 22 percent of all episodes, while the percentage directed by women went up 4 percent to 21 percent of all episodes, another all-time high.
That said, nearly 80 percent of episodes of television were directed by male and female Caucasians, with African-Americans directing 13 percent, Asian-Americans directing 5 percent and Latinos directing 4 percent, so the overwhelming percentage of directors remain white.
“While this report, and our recent report on hiring of first-time TV directors, reflect some progress overall, there are stark disparities among the major studios that raise questions about how committed to inclusion some employers really are,” said DGA President Thomas Schlamme in a statement.
“We want to make sure that every talented individual has an equal shot, and a path forward. But for that to happen, employers must expand their hiring processes to discover the world of capable directors hiding in plain sight. Frankly, it’s hard to understand why they’re not doing more. Even if all the right reasons are not enough for them, they should at least be motivated by the bottom line – inclusion just makes good business sense.”
To produce the report, the DGA analyzed an all-time high of nearly 4,500 episodes produced last TV season, up from 4,061 in the prior season. That’s on pace with the overall increase of television production, with producers last year creating 4,482 episodes of television, a 10 percent increase from the prior year and a 42 percent increase from five years ago.
Minorities directed 1,006 episodes of television in the 2016-17 season, up 223 episodes — or 28 percent — from the prior year. The total number of minority TV directors increased 46 percent to 205, up from 140 in the 2015-16 season.
Women directed 955 episodes of television, which was 253 more than the prior year and an improvement of 36 percent. The total number of women TV directors grew 45 percent to 262, up from 180 in the prior year.
The percentage of episodes directed by white men actually fell to 62 percent from 67 percent, but white men still directed far more episodes of television than any other group, with a total of 2,749 in 2016-17, up slightly from 2717 the year before. Moreover, the total number of white male TV directors grew 5 percent to 757, up from 723 in 2015-16.
Among the studios who hire TV directors, Twentieth Century Fox had the best report card, with 45 percent of its episodes directed by women or minorities. Nearly 30 percent of its TV episodes were produced by women and a bit more than 23 percent were directed by minorities. Twentieth Century Fox Television concurrently had the lowest number of episodes directed by white men at nearly 55 percent of its total 553 episodes.
Surprisingly, CBS, which TV critics rake over the coals every press tour, ranked second on DGA’s list with nearly 40 percent of its episodes directed by women or minorities and 60.2 percent directed by men.
In third place on the DGA’s list was NBC Universal, with 38.6 percent of episodes directed by women or minorities.
According to the DGA, the top-ten producers account for more than 75 percent of TV episodes produced over the course of a season.