#FactsandStats: Black Television in Britain


Let’s talk representation in European or more specifically, British Television. Empire was a big hit in America when it first came out. It was a fresh concept, with reputable names attached to it, it was bound to have success. But when the show came out in Europe, why did it flop?

Well first thing is first, let’s be real. If we want to have a real discussion about this we have to face the fact that the majority of the audience who would watch this show, had already streamed it online when it came out in America, and that audience is predictably predominantly black. Which leaves a majority of other ethnic background to potentially be represented by the above statistics.

With that being said, we should question why the show draw an average viewership from a British audience? Dare we say it could be due to the fact black television in British can be regarded as a niche, there’s little to no representation. Unless you count the short lived drama series or documentaries with narratives about gang violence and deviance.

We’re at a point where black audiences have to rely on American television as a source of black characters. Empire should have been a hit based on its success in America but maybe it’s time Britain offered more representation of ethnic minority led shows on television, not only black.

  •  Empire: (Fox's hit show bombs in Europe as international audiences don't embrace the industry's move to be more inclusive) the show has been a global flop. In the U.K., the first season drew a middling 717,000 viewers on Channel 4's youth-oriented E4 network, a mere 3% share, and season 2 has been worse, averaging a 2.2% share with 595,000 viewers.