When we look at the streaming media, most people limit themselves to the networks who produce content only available on their streaming platforms, which right now targets three main sources:
This is not say that networks like Tello or the defunct Seeso don’t matter. In fact, those are hugely important when we consider the parched landscape of representation on television in general. However, the channels most people are going to have in their home are one of those three.
By the Numbers
There’s no hiding the fact that Netflix is going to win this by sheer volume.
|All Shows||On Air||Characters||Dead|
Here’s the data in graph format:
It’s important to keep in mind that Amazon and Netflix have intentionally inflated their numbers with ‘originals’ that aren’t that at all. Take, for example, Anne with an E. That’s a CBC show that was ‘acquired’ by Netflix and gets flagged as a Netflix Original while it’s not.
We do our best to alert you to this by listing both networks on the show page, but Netflix loses at least 17 shows once we remove their ‘not really original originals.’ Still, it’s clear that Netflix is the top by volume.
Understanding the Values
However, we know that volume doesn’t always mean they’re doing the best job. This is even harder to determine with streaming, since with network TV, all the stations have roughly the same number of spots for original content. They have a certain number of hours per day where they can air shows. Streaming doesn’t have any limitation besides their pocketbooks, so we cannot use percentages of shows with queers and without to come to a meaningful conclusion.
What we can do, however, is look at the breadth of the representation per station. This is what we did with Network TV last year, and how we learned that The CW is really amazing with their rep.
The first metric we use to compare is how is the gender representation on streaming media. Frankly? It’s bad.
On average, 86% of all queer characters on streaming TV are going to be cisgender. In fact, the numbers are so bad that the Non-Binary section is actually a combination of non-binary, genderfluid, and one intersex character. Hulu’s transgender characters are both trans women.
Hulu is the worst, with 93% of their characters being cis, followed by Netflix (91%), and Amazon is the best with 74%. That’s entirely due to Transparent. Take away that one show and they’re no better.
The numbers get slightly better when you look at sexuality.
Again, I caveat that the queer column is collection of ‘everyone else’ because in general the numbers are terribly low. It includes self-identified queer and undefined characters. Even so, we can clearly see that most everyone is homosexual.
Netflix is the winner with diversity this time, though. Even though 62% of their characters are homosexual (Amazon 55%, Hulu 70%), they actually have a significant breadth of other sexualities.
There is No Winner
Looking at everything, I cannot come to a conclusion of the ‘best’ streaming media service for queer rep. Netflix has the most shows, even if you remove their not-really-originals, and they have the best sexuality diversity, but everyone is so terrible with gender representation they all need to go back to school.