Chicago may be home to the hottest show with TV’s number one show among African-Americans with Empire, set in New York City but filmed here.
But when it comes to attracting and keeping blacks in the area, Chicago is in a deep freeze.
A recent DMA (designated market area) report issued by Nielsen for the 2015-16 season shows Chicago has dropped to the fourth largest African-American television market in the country, down from third last year and down from second place in the 2006-07 TV season.
Chicago lost 3,640 black TV homes from last season, a decline of 0.6 percent. Meanwhile, Washington D.C. jumped from fourth to third with a whopping increase of 15,220 homes, or 2.6 percent. And Chicago is barely ahead for Philadelphia – the City Of Brotherly Love ranked fifth with a loss of only 340 homes.
Despite the loss in TV homes, Chicago is still the third-largest radio market in the country among African-Americans, with 1.3 million listeners, behind only New York City and Atlanta, and still the third-ranked TV market overall.
This comes as a recent report from Nielsen showed African-American media usage growing – and in the report, showed the most affluent African-American cities are now coming from the South – smaller markets like Baton Rouge La., Columbus and Augusta, Ga. – despite each dropping two notches season-to-season among TV homes.
Chicago plunged to 21st place among African-Americans making $100,000 or more after ranking in the top ten fifteen years ago. Other northern cities, such as Detroit and Philadelphia, also declined.
African-Americans still faces challenges in Chicago in terms of employment in many industries – especially in media. In a town where Soul Train was born and where Oprah Winfrey successfully hosted a talk show and ran a business for years, diversity has remained elusive. As yours truly has said in this space for years, there needs to be greater diversity in the media business – especially in Chicago.
In Atlanta – which replaced Chicago as the second-largest black TV market in 2007, the market boasts more than one hundred TV productions – many of them headed by African-Americans such as Winfrey, Tyler Perry, and Steve Harvey (who does his TV talk show in Chicago.)
And to add insult to injury, the Chicago Tribune’s crime reporters who cover many of the city’s crime-plagued African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods – are predominately Caucasian. One example is an “Overnight Log” where the crime coverage team cover stories and tweet overnight – unless you’re a crime victim, there is not one black or Hispanic face found.
Chicago not only lost affluent African-Americans over the last decade, but blacks of all income levels. 200,000 African-Americans have left the Chicago area in the 2000s according to the Census Bureau, and the decline continues into the 2010s as the drop in DMA rankings attests. High taxes (especially in the south suburbs), lackluster job opportunities, and crime-plagued neighborhoods on the city’s West and South sides and in suburban Harvey; Maywood; Robbins; and Gary, Ind. are driving African-Americans out of the area for better opportunities.
The Nielsen report notes African-Americans watch more TV than their Caucasian counterparts and spend more money. Blacks’ median income grew 2.3 percent in 2012-13.
To read the entire report, click here.