I won’t say that the only reason why I first tuned into "Scandal" was because there was a character – the lead character – that looked like me, but that was certainly a major factor. Television, despite its fluctuating ratings and successes from network to network, has become a larger medium. Its influence and storytelling capabilities have become more influential and more important than films.
In fact, as the film industry moves closer and closer to a formula that avoids "risk" (whether risk means original storytelling, romantic comedies, or stories featuring women), television – with its abundance of channels and numerous options available at any given moment – has become more experimental in its presentation.
On the surface, it is ridiculous to say “adding diversity” is a risk. With ensemble casts, it is easy to throw in a black or East Asian face and call it a day. Whether or not the character is interesting or relevant to the show’s structure as a whole matters little.