The Decline and Fall of Network Television News — Leaning Left and Falling Viewers and Ratings — Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 402: January 23, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 401: January 22, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 400: January 21, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 399: January 16, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 398: January 15, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 397: January 14, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 396: January 13, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 395: January 12, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 394: January 7, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 393: January 5, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 392: December 19, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 391: December 18, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 390: December 17, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 389: December 16, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 388: December 15, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 387: December 12, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 386: December 11, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 385: December 9, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 384: December 8, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 383: December 5, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 382: December 4, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 381: December 3, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 380: December 1, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 379: November 26, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 378: November 25, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 377: November 24, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 376: November 21, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 375: November 20, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 374: November 19, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 373: November 18, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 372: November 17, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 371: November 14, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 370: November 13, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 369: November 12, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 368: November 11, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 367: November 10, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 366: November 7, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 365: November 6, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 364: November 5, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 363: November 4, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 362: November 3, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 361: October 31, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 360: October 30, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 359: October 29, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 358: October 28, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 357: October 27, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 356: October 24, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 355: October 23, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 354: October 22, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 353: October 21, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 352: October 20, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 351: October 17, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 350: October 16, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 349: October 15, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 348: October 14, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 347: October 13, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 346: October 9, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 345: October 8, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 344: October 6, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 343: October 3, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 342: October 2, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 341: October 1, 2014


Story 1: The Decline and Fall of Network Television News — Leaning Left and Falling Viewers and Ratings — Videos

Network – Mad as Hell Scene

Network (1976) – Ned Beatty – “The World is a Business”

Paddy Chayefsky on “Network”

Nobody cares about you (George Carlin)


New England Patriots Cialis Commercial Parody ‘Deflate gate’ NFL Investigating Patriots

‘Deflate-gate’: NFL Investigating Patriots

The NFL is investigating whether the New England Patriots deflated footballs that were used in their AFC championship game victory over the Indianapolis Colts. (Jan. 20)

Patriots’ QB Tom Brady Says He Didn’t Deflate the Footballs

CBS Evening News 22 January 2015

Former NFL QB Explains Deflated Footballs

The NFL is investigating whether the New England Patriots used under-inflated footballs in the AFC championship game. Former NFL quarterback Hugh Millen says the footballs give quarterbacks a better grip and faster throws. (Jan. 23)

SportsCenter | Science behind New England Patriots deflated footballs

The Declining Influence Of TV News

Ken Auletta: Writer Liberation and the Decline of Broadcast


Pew study finds Americans more polarized than ever

A major study by the Pew Research Center finds the increasing polarization in the U.S. is not just in our politics. American adults are less likely to compromise and often decide where to live, who to marry and who their friends should be based on what they already believe. Michael Dimock of the Pew Research Center and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report join Gwen Ifill to assess the data.


Major TV Networks’ News Viewership Declining

Mainstream media blends the lines of news and entertainment

“Apparently” This Kid is Awesome, Steals the Show During Interview

It’s the Individual that’s finished.


Network (1976) (Trailer)

The NFL Doesn’t Want to Know How Deflate-gate Happened

By Andrew C. McCarthy

As Brendan’s post reports, at this afternoon’s press conference, Tom Brady flatly denied altering the footballs “in any way,” which I presume includes causing anyone else associated with the Patriots to alter them. Let me add a few points.

The major takeaway of the press conference is that, according to Brady, no one from the NFL has interviewed him. This is simply mind-boggling. Because of the way footballs are handled pregame, the quarterback would be the most essential source of information in the event irregularities occur. Brady is thus the first person the NFL should have spoken with if the league really wanted to get to the bottom of what happened.

One now has to be suspicious that the league would rather not know at this point. Why? Because we are just ten days from the Super Bowl and there is very strong evidence of cheating. If the league quickly learns who is responsible, it would have to suspend the cheater(s) from the big game or be mercilessly ridiculed for turning a blind eye. The NFL obviously does not want to suspend star players or coaches from its showcase event.

But now, the league will be mercilessly ridiculed anyway. There are very few people who handle the balls or might influence how they are handled between the time they are chosen and the time they are used in a game: the starting QB, the equipment manager, the ball boy(s), the referees, and the coaches. That means a competent investigation to get to the bottom of this growing controversy could be completed in a few hours – meaning, it should have been done by now. Plus, if you need to talk to the QB, you do it before he has to start ramping up his prep for the Super Bowl – meaning, between Monday and Wednesday of this week. You don’t wait until now, when he is turning his focus to the game.

If the NFL wanted to interview Tom Brady, it would have been done already. Football turns out to be a lot like politics: Officials avoid information because if they learn something bad has been done, they are expected to do something about it.

This is an extraordinarily foolish way to handle things. The NFL has run out of feet to shoot itself in this year, and this controversy is worse because it actually affects the integrity of the game. Tom Brady and Coach Bill Belichick claim they simply don’t know what happened, but almost everyone who knows football says that is impossible. Either way, because no explanation has been forthcoming from the Pats, there is a media feeding frenzy at the worst time: when over 5,000 international media figures are descending to cover the Super Bowl, which is as much a cultural phenomenon as a sporting event. Deflate-gate will now surely overwhelm coverage of the game, and the league’s incompetent (at best) handling of the investigation will invite endless reminders of its earlier black eyes this season.

A lot of this seems so unnecessary. Before we rehearse the really damaging facts, let’s cover one that is not well understood and that should have undercut the significance of the ball deflation.

Everyone agrees that, after the Colts raised concerns about the balls just before halftime, the balls were reexamined at halftime, and new balls were substituted for the under-inflated ones. That is, the second half was unquestionably played on the up and up . . . and in it the Patriots outscored the Colts 35-0 28-0. So whatever happened with the balls did not affect the outcome of the game – the right team made it to the Super Bowl.

Other than that, though, the story is bad. The refs examined the balls before the game – 12 from the Pats and 12 from the Colts – and found them to fit the specifications, weighing between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds [of air per square inch].

Right before halftime, a member of the Colts intercepted a Brady pass and noticed the ball was soft – something the Colts already had suspicions about based on (a) a prior game with the Pats in which they intercepted a couple of passes and detected under-inflated balls, and (b) similar suspicions about the Pats harbored by the Baltimore Ravens, who apparently shared those suspicions with the Colts after losing a tight playoff game to the Pats two weeks ago.

After the interception before halftime, the Colts’ sideline informed their general manager, who informed league officials. Based on the complaint, the refs re-examined all 24 balls at halftime. The Colts’ balls were all still within the specs, but 11 of the 12 Pats’ balls were under-inflated by up to two pounds per square inch – i.e., about 10.5 pounds. It was unseasonably mild for Foxboro, Mass., in January – about 51 degrees. Between that and the fact that the Colts’ footballs were unchanged, there seems to be no weather-related explanation for a drop in air pressure in the Pats’ footballs.

There are thus only two apparent possibilities, neither of which is good for the Pats: Either (a) the Pats supplied under-inflated balls and the refs did not competently examine them prior to the game; or (b) the Pats, who had control of their chosen footballs after the pregame examination by the refs, deflated the balls before or during the first-half.

Because the league has not done much of an investigation or released much information, we do not know how thorough the refs’ examination process is. I am also not in a position to say how noticeable the difference between 10.5 and 12.5 pounds is. The refs – football lifers – handle the balls on every play, and they obviously did not notice during the first-half. I saw Hall of Fame QB Dan Marino interviewed on Fox News earlier this week, and upon being presented with two footballs, one fully and one under-inflated, he indicated it was hard to tell the difference. But he also said, after squeezing and throwing them a few times, that the under-inflated one was somewhat easier to grip.

I still think the best case scenario for the Pats is that, based on years of experience, the equipment managers know Brady prefers a ball at the very bottom of the 12.5 to 13.5 pound range (as he said today at his press conference). It would not surprise me if, without there needing to be any discussion, the process is for equipment managers to bring Brady only balls that are at or slightly under 12.5 pounds. Those balls no doubt deflate a bit in the four or five days he breaks them in at practice, so by the time he selects a dozen for the game, they are likely to be under 12.5 pounds – perhaps markedly under, but maybe not enough that you could tell unless you examined very closely.

I’m sure Brady and the equipment manager do not measure the air pressure at that point; Brady just picks the ones he wants. Then, as he said at the press conference, he is done with the process and doesn’t deal with the balls again until game-time. That’s what allows him to say both that he doesn’t know what happened after he chose game balls and that he did not deflate those balls.

The equipment manager brings the balls to the refs for pregame inspection a couple of hours before game-time. So it would be important to know how thorough the refs’ inspection is. If the balls were not up to spec because of the Pats’ routine manner of handling them, and then the refs failed to do a careful enough examination to make sure they were up to spec, that could explain why they were under-inflated when checked at halftime. That is, it is not necessarily true that someone deflated them after the refs’ examination.

Of course, if the refs did do a competent pregame examination, then someone on the Pats has to have deflated the footballs.

One more interesting tidbit that could be relevant. Turns out that it is largely because of Tom Brady that the NFL changed its protocols in order to allow each team to supply game balls for its own use. It used to be that the home teams were responsible for supplying all the game balls. But nine years ago, Brady and Broncos star QB Peyton Manning successfully petitioned the competition committee to change the rules. The rationale was that every QB likes the ball to be broken in differently, and since there is some leeway in the rules about inflation (i.e., the 12.5 to 13.5 range), the league should accommodate the slightly different size and contour preferences of different QBs.

Personally, I would have thought the range allowing a pound of difference simply reflected that air pressure can change depending on climate conditions and how the ball is handled – just like it does with your car’s tires. I seriously doubt the rule was written with the thought that players on opposing teams would not be using the same ball. That would be inconceivable in, say, baseball, in which players for both teams pitch and hit balls that are exactly the same.

Tom Brady indicated at today’s press conference that he did not think the balls used made much difference – he did not, he said, notice any difference between the first-half balls that were under-inflated and the second-half balls that were inflated to league specifications. Maybe . . . but sounds remarkably blasé coming from a guy who previously pushed the league to change its rules so he could always have footballs that conformed to his unique preferences.

State of the News Media 2014


In many ways, 2013 and early 2014 brought a level of energy to the news industry not seen for a long time. Even as challenges of the past several years continue and new ones emerge, the activities this year have created a new sense of optimism – or perhaps hope – for the future of American journalism.

Digital players have exploded onto the news scene, bringing technological knowhow and new money and luring top talent. BuzzFeed, once scoffed at for content viewed as “click bait,” now has a news staff of 170, including top names like Pulitzer Prize-winner Mark Schoofs, and is the kind of place that ProPublica’s Paul Steiger says he would want to work at if he were young again. Mashable now has a news staff of 70 and enticed former New York Times assistant managing editor Jim Roberts to become its chief content officer. And in January of this year, Ezra Klein left the Washington Post for Vox media, which will become the new home for his explanatory journalism concept. Many of these companies are already successful digital brands – built around an innate understanding of technology – and are using revenues from other parts of the operation to get the news operations off the ground.

Other kinds of new revenue are flowing into news operations as well. A new breed of entrepreneurs – like Jeff Bezos, John Henry and Pierre Omidyar — are investing their own money in the industry, in some cases creating wholly new entities and in others looking to bring new life to long-standing ones. Among their best credentials – beyond deep pockets – is that they are tech industry insiders and news media outsiders.  Philanthropic money has grown as well, in many cases focused on smaller outlets seeking to fill the gap in news coverage left by legacy cutbacks. As recently as March 2014, the Jerome L. Greene Foundation announced a $10 million grant to New York Public Radio to help build its digital capabilities, an expressed need among nonprofits.

The year also brought more evidence than ever that news is a part of the explosion of social media and mobile devices, and in a way that could offer opportunity to reach more people with news than ever before. Half of Facebook users get news there even though they did not go there looking for it. And the Facebook users who get news at the highest rates are 18-to-29-year-olds. The same is true for the growth area of online video. Half of those who watch some kind of online video watch news videos. Again, young people constitute the greatest portion of these viewers.

Accompanying this momentum is the question of what it adds up to within the full scope of news that consumers receive. Here the events of the last year get put in some perspective. Our first-ever accounting found roughly 5,000 full-time professional jobs at nearly 500 digital news outlets, most of which were created in the past half dozen years. But the vast majority of bodies producing original reporting still comes from the newspaper industry. But those newspaper jobs are far from secure. Full-time professional newsroom employment declined another 6.4% in 2012 with more losses expected for 2013. Gannett alone is estimated to have cut 400 newspaper jobs while the Tribune Co.  announced 700 (not all of them in the newsroom).

The new money from philanthropists, venture capitalists and other individuals and non-media businesses, while promising, amounts to only a sliver of the money supporting professional journalism. Traditional advertising from print and television still accounts for more than half of the total revenue supporting news, even though print ad revenues are in rapid decline. While seeing some small gains in new revenue streams like digital subscriptions and conferences, total newspaper advertising revenue in 2013 was down 49% from 2003. (That 2013 number also includes some niche and non-daily publications.) Television ad revenue, while stable for now, faces an uncertain future as video becomes more accessible online. What’s more, most of the new revenue streams driving the momentum are not earned from the news product itself.

There were a number of other events over the last year for which the impact on citizens is mixed or unclear. Local television, which remains the primary place American adults turn to for news, saw its audience increase for the first time in five years. At the same time, though, there were fewer stations producing original news compared with 2012, primarily the result of television acquisitions that left fewer companies in control of more stations.  At this point, fully a quarter of the 952 U.S. television stations that air newscasts do not produce their news programs. Additional stations have sharing arrangements where much of their content is produced outside their own newsroom. The impact on the consumer seems to vary from market to market, with some markets increasing potential reach by airing news on stations that never had it – even if that newscast is the same one that airs on another local station. In other markets the news has contracted, as news organizations have reduced staff or content production for cost efficiency.     

In digital news, the overlap between public relations and news noted in last year’s State of the News Media report became even more pronounced. One of the greatest areas of revenue experimentation now involves website content that is paid for by commercial advertisers – but often written by journalists on staff – and placed on a news publishers’ page in a way that sometimes makes it indistinguishable from a news story. Following the lead of early adapters like The Atlantic and Mashable, native advertising, as it is called by the industry, caught on rapidly in 2013. The New York Times, The Washington Post and most recently The Wall Street Journal have now begun or announced plans to begin devoting staff to this kind of advertising, often as a part of a new “custom content division.” eMarketer predicts that native ads spending will reach $2.85 billion by 2014.

Many of these publishers initially expressed caution over such ads, with Wall Street Journal editor-in-chief Gerard Baker even describing it as a “Faustian pact.” In the end, though, many publishers eventually came down with a conclusion similar to Baker’s, who said that he was  “confident that our readers will appreciate what is sponsor-generated content and what is content from our global staff,” according to a statement released by The Journal. That may be the case, and it could also be the case that stories created for and paid for by advertisers do not bother consumers as long as they are a good read. At this point, though, there is little if any public data that speak to consumer response one way or the other.

And despite evidence of news consumption by Facebook users—half of whom report getting news across at least six topic areas—recent Pew Research data finds these consumers to have rather low levels of engagement with news sites. Another question looming over developments in social media is whether the self-selective process combined with algorithmic feeds are narrowing the kinds of information Americans are exposed to.

One of the biggest stories of the year, the NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden, shined light on yet another area of challenge for journalism in the digital age: easy access to web-based content. It threatens the security of journalists’ communications and their ability to get sources to share information with them, the ultimate impact of which could be the stories that don’t get reported on and delivered to consumers.

A year ago, the State of the News Media report struck a somber note, citing evidence of continued declines in the mainstream media that were impacting both content and audience satisfaction. As indicated above and throughout this report, many of these issues still exist, some have deepened and new ones have emerged. Still, the level of new activity this past year is creating a perception that something important, perhaps even game-changing, is going on. If the developments in 2013 are at this point only a drop in the bucket, it feels like a heavier drop than most. The momentum behind them is real, if the full impact on citizens and our news system remains unclear.

This year’s Annual Report, our 11th edition, set out to examine these shifts—in revenue, in jobs, in technology, in content, in consumer behavior. It is structured a bit differently than in the past – to account for the widening of the industry, the growing influence of technology and new ways of sharing of our data. This year’s report includes four original research reports and two graphical presentations, along with key findings and a searchable database of all the statistics gathered in past years. From these reports, six major trends emerge:

1) Thirty of the largest digital-only news organizations account for about 3,000 jobs and one area of investment is global coverage.  Vice Media has 35 overseas bureaus; The Huffington Post hopes to grow to 15 countries from 11 this year; BuzzFeed hired a foreign editor to oversee its expansion into places like Mumbai, Mexico City, Berlin and Tokyo. The two-year-old business-oriented Quartz has reporters in London, Bangkok and Hong Kong, and its editorial staff speaks 19 languages. This comes amid pullbacks in global coverage form mainstream media. The amount of airtime network evening newscasts devoted to overseas reporting in 2013 was less than half of what it was in the late 1980s. International reporters working for U.S. newspaper have declined 24% from 2003 to 2010. As the new digital native outlets continue to add staff, the country may be seeing the first real build-up of international reporting in decades – save for a few start- ups like Global Post.

2) So far, the impact of new money flowing into the industry may be more about fostering new ways of reporting and reaching audience than about building a new, sustainable revenue structure.  The news industry in the U.S. brings in a little over $60 billion of revenue annually, according to estimates in our report. Advertising, at least for now, accounts for roughly two-thirds of this pie, most of which remains tied to legacy forms. Audience revenue accounts for about a quarter and is growing both in total dollars and in share. But this revenue may also be coming from a smaller—or at least flat—pool of contributors. New kinds of earned revenue streams like event hosting and web consulting account for about 7%, while investment from sources such as venture capital and philanthropy amount to only about 1% of the total.  One part of the equation worth exploring is what kind of savings occurs at digital news startups free of the legacy infrastructure, but taking on the newer costs of technology development and maintenance.

3) Social and mobile developments are doing more than bringing consumers into the process – they are also changing the dynamics of the process itself. New survey data released here find that half (50%) of social network users share or repost news stories, images or videos while nearly as many (46%) discuss news issues or events on social network sites. And with broader mobile adoption, citizens are playing important eyewitness roles around news events such as the Boston bombing and the Ukrainian uprising. Roughly one-in-ten social network users have posted news videos they took themselves, according to the data.  And 11% of all online news consumers have submitted their own content (including videos, photos, articles or opinion pieces) to news websites or blogs. Just as powerful, though, are the shifts in how news functions in these spaces.  On social sites and even many of the new digital-only sites, news is mixed in with all other kinds of content – people bump into it when they are there doing other things. This bumping into means there may be opportunity for news to reach people who might otherwise have missed it, but less of that may be in the hands of news organizations. Only about a third of people who get news on Facebook follow a news organization or individual journalist. Instead, stories get shared from friends in their networks. And few Facebook visitors, according to a separate Pew Research study of traffic to top news sites, end up also coming to a site directly.  For news providers, this means that a single digital strategy – both in terms of capturing audience and building a viable revenue base – will not be enough.

4) New ways of storytelling bring both promise and challenge. One area of expansion in 2013 was online news video. Ad revenue tied to digital videos over all (no firm calculates a figure specifically for news videos) grew 44% from 2012 to 2013 and is expected to continue to increase. For now, though, its scale is still small, accounting for just 10% of all digital ad revenue in the U.S. YouTube alone already accounts for 20% of these revenues and Facebook has now entered the digital video ad market and, based on its rapid growth in display ad revenue, is expected to quickly account for a significant portion of these dollars. In terms of audience appeal, one-third of U.S. adults watch online news videos, but that growth has slowed considerably. After a 27% increase from 2007 to 2009, the next four years saw just 9% growth. Again, large distributors of video content like YouTube and Facebook already account for a hefty portion of video watching on the web.  Nonetheless, some news providers are making significant investments in digital video. The Huffington Post celebrated the one year anniversary of HuffPost Live, Texas Tribune held a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the purchase of equipment to stream live video coverage of the 2014 Texas governor’s race, and the multimedia company Vice in early 2014 launched a new multimedia portal just for news stories.

5) Local television, which reaches about nine in ten U.S. adults, experienced massive change in 2013, change that stayed under the radar of most. Nearly 300 full-power local TV stations changed hands in 2013 at a price of more than $8 billion. The number of stations sold was up 205% over 2012 and the value up 367%, with big owners getting even bigger. If all the pending sales go through, Sinclair Broadcasting alone will own or provide service to 167 stations in 77 markets, reaching almost 40% of the U.S. population. Sinclair’s CEO, David Smith, at the UBS conference in December 2013 expressed an interest in growing even more: “I’d like to have 80% of the country if I could get it. I’d like to have 90%.” Much of what is driving these purchases is the growth in fees that local stations are able to charge cable companies for re-airing their content – known by the industry as retransmissions fees. Both Meredith (which owns 13 stations) and Scripps (which owns 19) said they saw their retransmission revenues roughly triple in the last three years.  In terms of programming, a clear result is more stations in the same market being operated jointly and sharing more content. As of early 2014, joint service agreements exist in almost half of the 210 local TV markets nationwide, up from 55 in 2011. And fewer stations are producing their own newscasts. The ultimate impact on the consumer is complicated to assess, but the economics benefit to the owner is indisputable.

6) Dramatic changes under way in the makeup of the American population will undoubtedly have an impact on news in the U.S, and in one of the fastest growing demographic groups – Hispanics – we are already seeing shifts. The Hispanic population in the U.S. has grown 50% from 2000 to 2012–to 53 million people. Most of that growth has come from births in the U.S. rather than the arrival of new immigrants, reversing a trend from previous decades. As a result, a growing share of the Hispanic population is American-born and a growing number speak English proficiently.  In response to these trends, more general-market media companies—like ABC, NBC, Fox and The Huffington Post—have started Hispanic news operations. Since 2010, six national Hispanic outlets have been launched, all of which are either owned in full or in partnership by a general-market media company. Not all of them have been successes, however.  Earlier this year, NBC Latino—a website-only outlet—closed, after only 16 months, and CNN Latino, which had both a web and on-air presence, was shut down just a year after its launch. At the same time, Fusion, a joint effort by ABC and Univision, initially described the channel as aimed at Hispanic millennials but later switched to aiming it at millennials more broadly—currently the largest and most diverse generational group in the U.S. As demographic shifts within the U.S. continue, so too will their impact on the news ecosystem.

Key Indicators in Media & News



1 cable tv viewership

In 2013, the cable news audience, by nearly all measures, declined. The combined median prime-time viewership of the three major news channels—CNN, Fox News and MSNBC—dropped 11% to about 3 million, the smallest it has been since 2007. The Nielsen Media Research data show that the biggest decline came at MSNBC, which lost nearly a quarter (24%) of its prime-time audience. CNN, under new management, ended its fourth year in third place, with a 13% decline in prime time. Fox, while down 6%, still drew more viewers (1.75 million) than its two competitors combined (619,500 at MSNBC and 543,000 at CNN).
The daytime audience for cable news was more stable, holding flat at about 2 million viewers across the three news channels. CNN (up 12%) and Fox (up 2%) actually experienced growth here. That was counterbalanced by more deep loses at MSNBC (down 15.5%).

Local TV

After years in decline, local television news showed new signs of life in 2013. Viewership increased in every key time slot. Local morning news (5 to 7 a.m. Eastern Time or equivalent) gained 6.3%, early evening newscasts followed with a 3.3% increase and late night news programs were flat (up 0.1%). This follows declines every year across all time slots from 2008 to 2012, with the exception of a small uptick in 2011. The jump in viewership in the key timeslots was due largely to significant increases in the November sweeps period when morning news was up 12%, early evening grew by 8% and late night increased by 6%.

2 local news viewership in key time slots

The 2013 picture was more mixed for Fox broadcast affiliates. Morning newscasts gained 9% more audience on average, continuing the steady growth of previous years. However, late-night viewership continued to decline, although the loss in 2013 was small, just 1.2%. Over the past six years, these programs have lost more than 25% of their viewers, while one of the worst performing traditional time slots, the 11 p.m. newscasts, have lost 17.3% since 2007.

Local news in nontraditional time slots are expanding their audience. The nontraditional early-morning news slots continued to grow. At 4:30 a.m., viewership increased 13% to 2.9 million. Viewership at 4 a.m. increased by 21% on average, to 257,000, following a 19% increase in 2012. Newscasts at midday and following the network news at 7 p.m. added viewers after having lost audience the year before. Midday newscasts saw a 5% increase of their audience and viewership also grew 2% for 7 p.m. newscasts. Though audiences in these time slots are growing, the programs attract far fewer viewers than some of the most popular hours for local TV. Late-night news programs, for instance, averaged 24.3 million viewers in 2013.


3 network evening news audience

In the evening, an average of 22.6 million viewers tuned into one of the three commercial broadcast news programs on ABC, CBS or NBC, a 2.3% increase over the average viewership for 2012, according to Pew Research analysis of Nielsen Media Research data. The ABC World News increased 2.2% to 7.7 million viewers on average and CBS Evening News increased 6.5% to 6.5 million viewers. NBC Nightly News, the ratings leader, was the only evening news program to decrease, dipping 0.7% to 8.4 million viewers on average.

Morning news saw a 6.7% increase in average viewership compared with 2012, to 13.4 million. For years, NBC’s Today show led in viewership and ratings, but ABC’s Good Morning America took the throne in 2012 and grew its margin of victory in 2013. ABC’s Good Morning America increased 11% to 5.5 million viewers on average, CBS This Morning increased 17.9% to 3.2 million viewers and NBC’s Today show decreased 3.7% to 4.7 million.


Newspapers increased their total circulation by 3% daily and 1.6% Sunday, according to an analysis by the Newspaper Association of America’s John Murray. But that result is influenced by liberalized reporting rules by the Association for Audited Media and includes both paying visitors to digital platforms and distribution of Sunday insert packages to nonsubscribers.

Print now accounts for only 71.2% of daily circulation and 74.9% of Sunday, according to Murray. And Murray’s analysis of 15 of the largest newspapers shows that those papers now have just 54.9% of their total circulation in print.

News Magazines

4 news magazines newsstand sales

According to the Alliance for Audited Media, sales of newsstand copies for news magazines, the measure most accepted by the industry, fell 2% on average, following years of declining numbers. In 2013, though, the decrease was smaller than the total industry decline in newsstand sales (10%). The Economist was the hardest hit, losing 16% of its newsstand sales, after a 17% decline in 2012. The Atlantic and The Week were also hit (down 12% and 7% respectively). The New Yorker enjoyed a 16% increase, one of the highest reported in past years. Time posted some significant gains too, up 6% from the year before. Since 2008, when Pew Research started tracking these figures, the news magazines have lost 43% of their single-copy sales on average.

Subscriptions were flat, as they have been in years past. But these are normally kept from declining through discounts or special offers.


Traditional radio continues to reach the vast majority of Americans 12 and older, 91% in 2013 (roughly unchanged from 2012), but online listening is where the growth is. According to Edison Media research, fully 33% of Americans reported listening to online radio “in the last week” in 2013, up from 29% in 2013. In addition, online radio listening in cars (long a stronghold of AM/FM radio) rose to 21%, from 17% in 2012.

Another form of nontraditional radio, podcasting, has largely leveled off. The number of Americans who have “ever” listened to an audio podcast was down slightly from 29% in 2012 to 27% in 2013.

The other main non-AM/FM audio platform, satellite radio, saw moderate growth in subscribers in 2013. By the end of 2013, Sirius XM had 25.6 million subscribers in the U.S., up from 23.9 million at year end 2012.

Alternative Weeklies

Circulation for the top 20 alternative weekly newspapers declined again in 2013, but at a slower pace than in previous years: 6% in 2013, compared to 8% in 2012.


The vast majority of Americans now get news in some digital format. In 2013, 82% of Americans said they got news on a desktop or laptop and 54% said they got news on a mobile device. Beyond that, 35% reported that they get news in this way “frequently” on their desktop or laptop, and 21% on a mobile device (cellphone or tablet).

Digital Natives


While commercial digital native sites remain a relatively small part of the economics of the news industry, their digital audience figures compete with those of much larger legacy news organizations. In April, May, and June of 2013, for example The Huffington Post averaged 45 million unique monthly visitors, putting it second only to Yahoo among the top news sites. also fared well with 17 million monthly unique visitors, putting it at roughly the same as The Washington Post with 19 million monthly unique visitors.


Audiences of noncommercial digital native news organizations vary widely and can be hard to determine because of syndication and partnership arrangements with other news outlets. On the national level, for example, ProPublica, an investigative journalism nonprofit site founded in 2007, had 544,799 unique visitors to its site in October 2012, according to a Knight Foundation report. While that is a 176% increase over October 2010, it probably misses a fair amount as the organization syndicates its content to various news organizations.

There are also regionally oriented outlets like the New England Center for Investigative Reporting with far fewer visitors per month: 2,362 unique visitors in October 2012, according to self-reported data in the Knight report. Still, that was up 87% from October 2010.

At the local level, MinnPost attracted 268,955 unique visitors in October 2012, according to the report, while The Lens, which focuses on New Orleans and Gulf Coast news, reported just 20,177 unique visitors in October 2012 (though again a huge increase – 375% – over October 2010). The variation in these data speaks to both the diversity in the scope of noncommercial digital start-ups as well as the degree to which collaboration and syndicated content may mean that site visits is not the best way to assess total audience.



5 cable news revenues

The year 2013 was a relatively weak one for economic growth among the cable news outlets. Fox News was projected to increase its total revenue, according to research firm SNL Kagan, by 5% to $1.89 billion. CNN was projected to increase just 2% to $1.11 billion, and MSNBC was projected to decline by 2% to $475 million. Both CNN and MSNBC experienced advertising revenue losses year over year.

Revenue from license fees, which cable channels charge to providers in exchange for the right to carry their programming, continued to grow in 2013, according to projections, becoming a larger part of the revenue pie for the news channels. For CNN, license fee revenue now accounts for 64% of its total intake. For Fox, it is 58%. And for MSNBC, it makes up 51% of total revenue.

Local TV

Local TV stations make the vast majority of their revenue from on-air advertising, which typically follows a cyclical pattern of increases in election years and decrease in non-election years. In 2013, total local TV ad revenue was expected to decline 2.5% from election-year 2012, according to BIA/Kelsey, amounting to $19.7 billion. But this is less of a decline than in 2011, when advertising revenues dropped by about 8% from the year before, and in 2009, when the decline was 22%.

To calculate ad revenue going just to news-producing stations (i.e. stations that include news programming,) we have to go back one year to 2012, the most recent year that BIA has final station-level data. For that year, news-producing stations took in $17.3 billion in total ad revenue, compared with $20.2 billion in the industry over all.

This year, Pew Research also estimated what portion of the $17.3 billion in ad revenues at these news-producing stations is connected to the news programming. Local TV news directors, in an annual survey by Bob Papper, attributed 48.6% of 2012 stations’ revenues to news. That would amount to $8.4 billion in all. Other sources of revenues for the local TV industry have been growing. Retransmission payments have been increasing rapidly in the past decade, according to data from the investment firm Veronis Suhler Stevenson. In 2011, the last year for which there were final data, retransmission revenues equaled almost $1.5 billion, more than 70 times higher than they had been in 2003 ($20 million). And VSS projects that revenue will more than double—to about $3.7 billion—by 2016. In 2013 alone, 21st Century Fox— created after the split-up of News Corp. — doubled its retransmission revenues. And Nexstar, which owns 108 local stations, reported a 66% increase in its retransmission fee revenues for the fourth quarter 2013, which now account for about 23% of its total revenues.

Digital revenues for the local TV market were forecast to grow 23% in 2013, following 17% growth the previous year, according to Borrell Associates. But, the typical local TV station makes only about 4% of its total revenue from online and mobile ads, according to Borrell Associates.

Newspapers (updated April 22, 2014)

The Newspaper Association of America has stopped compiling quarterly reports on advertising revenue. According to its annual numbers, which were released in April 2014, overall revenue for newspapers in 2013 was $37.6 billion, a decrease of 2.6% from 2012. Within that total, combined print and digital ad revenue decreased by 7%—to $20.7 billion. While daily and Sunday print ad revenue dropped 8.6%, digital advertising edged up by 1.5%. That is a slowdown from the 3.7% digital ad growth rate in 2012.

The news was better with circulation revenue which was up 3.7% in 2013, slightly lower than the growth rate in 2012, 4.6%.  Many companies continue to add digital subscriptions and raise rates for a combination of print and digital access. The biggest paywall gains tend to come in the first year with revenues flattening in following years. Many companies are also building other revenue sources like digital marketing services for local businesses, contract printing or events and newsletters. Direct marketing revenue increased by 2.4% in 2013 while new and other revenue increased 5%, in 2013, according to the NAA, but both only constituted a fraction of the total revenue picture.

News Magazines

For a third year in a row, news magazines faced a difficult print advertising environment. Combined ad pages (considered a better measure than ad revenue) for the five magazines studied in this report were down 13% in 2013, following a decline of 12.5% in 2012, and about three times the rate of decline in 2011, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. Again, hardest hit was The Week, which suffered a 20% drop in ad pages. The Atlantic fell 17%, The Economist 16%, and Time about 11%, while The New Yorker managed to keep its ad pages losses in single digits (7%). For print magazines, the number of ad pages sold across the industry over all was down in 2013 (4.1%), after a steep decline in 2012 (8.2%).

Network TV

According to Kantar Media, ad revenue for network television evening news programs increased 2% in the first three quarters of 2013 to $401 million. ABC’s World News decreased 3% to $130 million, the CBS Evening News saw an 11% increase to $116 million and NBC Nightly News remained steady at $155 million. Revenue for network television morning shows increased 7% in the first three quarters of 2013. At ABC’s Good Morning America revenues increased 12% to $260 million and CBS This Morning fell 2% to $108 million. At NBC’s Today show, revenue increased 6% to $504 million.


6 top 5 companies make more than half of total display ad revenue

Total digital ad spending rose to $42.6 billion in 2013, a 15.7% increase over 2012. But the bigger news was that display made up almost as much of that total as search (which is not a source of revenue for news organizations.) In 2013 display ads accounted for about 42% of the total, or $17.7 billion, according to eMarketer, and are projected to outpace search by 2015.

While the ascent of display is a good thing for news organizations, the dominance of large tech companies remains an issue. In 2012 the top five display advertising companies made 47% of all display ad revenue on the web; in 2013 that proportion increased to 51%. And while Google had been on top, Facebook overtook the search giant in 2013, taking in 17.9% of all display ad revenue to Google’s 16.9%.


Much of the for-profit digital news landscape is occupied by private or unincorporated concerns that do not disclose detailed financial figures. But based on publicly available estimates and reports, Pew Research analysts identified a minimum of roughly $500 million in annual ad revenue from a range of digital news sites. Even that estimate does not include outlets that had been identified, but for whom no revenue estimates were found. That $500 million figure would account for roughly 1% of all known news ad revenue across U.S. media sectors. While the actual figure is almost certainly higher, even if it were doubled, it would still account for a small fraction of all news revenue in the U.S.


7 majority of outlets raise 5000 or less in 2011

About one-fifth of nonprofits (21%) surveyed by the Pew Research Center in 2012 said they generated $50,000 or less in annual revenue in 2011, the latest year for which data were available, and 26% took in between $50,001 and $250,000. Foundations have been prominent sources of funding, particularly in the form of start-up grants. For many outlets, this initial funding has been difficult to replace. Nearly two-thirds of the survey respondents (61%) began with a start-up grant that accounted for at least one-third of their original funding, and a majority of those grants were for $100,000 or more. Yet less than a third of those outlets had the funding renewed. As with the audience for digital native noncommercial sites, discussed above, the economics for these sites also vary, but a 2013 report by the Pew Research Center finds on average total income is quite small and heavily reliant on foundations.


Traditional AM/FM radio remains heavily reliant on “spot” advertising (ads aired during radio broadcasts) for its revenue, which saw virtually no year-over-year change in the third quarter of 2013 (the most current data available) compared with the third quarter of 2012. Digital and off-air advertising saw increases of 15% and 3% respectively, but is just a drop in the network advertising bucket.

Sirius XM, the only satellite radio provider in the U.S., grew its revenue in 2013 as well. In 2013, Sirius XM had $3.8 billion in revenue, up from $3.4 billion in 2012, an 11.7% increase. This follows several years of growth in subscriber revenue after the merger of the two companies (Sirius and XM) in 2007.

News Investment

Local TV

8 very early morning news add more stations

Staffing levels in the local TV sector were expected to be stable in 2013, according to the yearly Hofstra University survey. A majority of news directors expected no change in staff size in 2013, while just a third said they anticipated adding more staff, about the same as the year before. And only 2.5% said they expected to have to cut staff, fewer than the year before.

The average amount of weekday local TV news programming declined by six minutes in 2012, the last year for which data exist, to five hours and 24 minutes, according to the same survey. This follows four straight years of increases in the hours of news, but still puts the average hours at 5.4 in 2012, up 46% from what is was in 2003 (3.7 hours). And weekend programming continued to add time: up 11% on Saturday and 6% on Sunday on average.

One area seeing more news is in the very early 4:30 a.m. time slot. The number of stations airing news at 4:30 a.m. increased 159% in 2013 to 634, up from 245 in 2012, according to Nielsen data. Those stations cut across 207 markets, up from 113 in 2012.


Under Jeff Zucker, CNN, already a sizable global news operation, was projected to increase its spending more than either Fox or MSNBC in 2013. SNL Kagan estimated that CNN would grow its news investment by 11% to $757 million in 2013, compared to Fox’s increase of 4% (to $848.5 million) and MSNBC’s scale-back by 4% (to $272 million).

CNN still maintains by far the largest bureau system among the three major news channels with 33 around the world, though the organization laid off at least 40 journalists in late 2013 and lists one fewer domestic bureau than it had the previous year. (Fox lists two fewer bureaus than it did a year earlier, and no updated information was available from NBC News.)


During 2012, the most recent year for which figures are available, full-time professional newsroom employment at newspaper organizations fell by 2,600 jobs, or 6.4%. The total of 38,000 jobs is down 33.2% from its 1989 peak of 56,900, according to the annual census of the American Society of News Editors. Most of that loss was in the last six years. When the organization’s census for 2013 is released, more job losses are likely.

According to various sources, including media accounts, several major companies eliminated hundreds of newspaper jobs in 2013—including two companies that began investing more heavily in local television stations. Gannett is estimated to have cut about 400 newspaper jobs while the Tribune Co. announced about 700 cuts, not all of them in the newsroom. Media reports put newsroom layoffs at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland at about 50 and at The Oregonian in Portland at about 35 in 2013.

In one eye-catching cutback, The Chicago Sun-Times laid off its entire 28-person photography department in 2013, but hired back four photographers in December. Even Aaron Kushner, a California publisher who attracted considerable attention for hiring scores of journalists and investing heavily in print journalism, implemented about 70 layoffs at The Orange County Register and The Press-Enterprise in Riverside early in 2014.

Digital Native


One of the noteworthy developments in 2013 (and early 2014) was the growth of editorial jobs in the expanding world of big commercial digital native news outlets. Rapidly growing Buzzfeed added approximately 170 editorial jobs last year, Gawker’s editorial staff grew to 132, almost double what it was two years earlier. Mashable lured former New York Times editor Jim Roberts to oversee its robust investment in news coverage while Yahoo News hired several high profile Times journalists to build up its original content. Henry Blodget’s Business Insider hired 15 new people to grow its editorial staff to 70. The founder of eBay, Pierre Omidyar, is building its growing staff at the fledgling First Look Media around Glenn Greenwald, while Ezra Klein’s Project X at Vox Media is signing up former Washington Post staffers at a brisk clip. Vice Media, which has expanded from a Montreal punk magazine to a worldwide news operation, now has more than 1,100 total global employees (that includes all staff positions), and as of the deadline for this report, had hired nearly 50 U.S. new employees in 2014 alone.

Not all of the news was good. AOL’s network of Patch hyperlocal sites at one time employed about 1,000 reporters and editors but that had been cut back to fewer than 100 by early 2014, signaling the failure of the most ambitious effort to create a universe of digital community news sites under one roof.

News Magazines

In January 2013, Time magazine cut six positions as part of broader wave of layoffs (500 jobs) at Time Inc., the publishing division that houses Time magazine. Those cuts were part of a mandate from Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes to shave $100 million from the publishing division’s annual costs. In late 2013, soon after Nancy Gibbs replaced Rick Stengel as Time’s managing editor (becoming the first women to hold that position), Time announced 11 new hires and three promotions. However, in February 2014 Time Inc. proceeded with another round of reductions, reportedly 500 jobs, as part of a restructuring plan to spin off from its parent company, Time Warner.


News in traditional radio is a hard category to define, one measure being the number of stations that carry news content only. While the number of all-news radio stations in the U.S. remains small, 37 in 2012, according to the latest data available, that number was unchanged from 2011.


Local TV

9 total value of local tv acquisitions

Local TV station sales exploded in 2013. Nearly 300 TV stations were sold, up 205% from 2012, according to BIA/Kelsey. Likewise, the total value of these transactions was up, a 367% increase in 2013 from 2012, reaching $8.8 billion.

Sinclair, which already owned more local stations than any other company, purchased 63 more in 2013, the most notable of which were seven stations from Allbritton Communications and 22 from Fisher Communications. Sinclair now operates 167 television stations in 77 markets. The Tribune Co. acquired Local TV Holdings for $2.73 billion (a total of 19 stations) and Gannett purchased Belo, adding 17 stations, in a $2.2 billion transaction. BIA/Kelsey attributes this growth to strong political advertising revenues from the previous year, retransmission consent revenues and continued historically low interest rates.


The only major development in the ownership and executive level positions at the three network news divisions in 2013 was the joint venture between Disney/ABC with Univision to create a new cable channel, Fusion. They each own 50% of the channel.


A process that began in 2012 was completed in mid-2013 when News Corp.—parent of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network—formally spit in two. The movie and TV division containing the news channels was renamed Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. with Rupert Murdoch continuing as chief executive.

In August of 2013, Qatar-based Al Jazeera Media Network launched a new channel aimed squarely at U.S. audiences—Al Jazeera America. It occupies the same space on the dial held by Current TV.


Within days in August of 2013, two venerable newspapers changed hands. Multi-millionaire and Red Sox owner John Henry bought The Boston Globe and another Massachusetts newspaper, The Worchester Telegram & Gazette, from The New York Times for $70 million. And, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos acquired The Washington Post for $250 million. In other transactions, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway acquired several more newspapers, The News & Record in Greensboro, N.C., and Tulsa World, among them. A. H. Belo sold one its four newspapers – The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, Calif., and plans to sell The Providence Journal in Rhode Island. That will leave just its flagship Dallas Morning News and the nearby Denton Record-Chronicle. Tribune Co., on the other hand, pulled eight of its papers off the market in 2013, after failing to fetch an attractive offer. Tribune now plans to spin them off into a separate company.

Commercial Digital Natives

Unlike other sectors studied here most commercial digital native sites are privately held companies and in 2013 saw little movement. One notable development, though, was AOL’s dropping of the hyperlocal news network Patch. Patch was founded by AOL CEO Tim Armstrong in 2007, at first independent of AOL but then acquired by it in 2009.

In 2009 and 2010, AOL hired 900 employees, Armstrong said, with half of them going to Patch. By early 2011, Patch sites were up and running in about 800 cities and towns across the U.S. Despite this aggressive growth, and plans being made to hire for 1,000 Patch sites by the end of 2011, Armstrong drew back, saying in early 2012, “We don’t have a massive number of Patches on a run-rate profitability, and some of them have bounced in and bounced out.”

Despite the early growth at Patch and investment by AOL the company’s business model quickly came under criticism. In May, 2012 Starboard Value (an investment firm that owned 5.3% of Patch at the time) released a report calling Patch’s business model unsustainable. The report offered some rare estimates of Patch’s finances, which showed that the company had lost $147 million in 2011 and only brought in $13 million in advertising revenue.

Over the course of 2013, Patch suffered more losses. In August 2013 AOL announced the closing of 400 of the 900 Patch sites that existed at the time. Finally, in early 2014, AOL dropped Patch entirely and sold majority ownership of the remaining sites to Hale Global.

News Magazines

In March 2013, Time Warner announced that it would spin off Time Inc. into a separate publicly traded company. In March of 2014, these plans seem to be in full effect as Time Inc. prepares to separate from Time Warner. In the meantime, Time Inc. has been integrating American Express Publishing, which it bought last year.

How Americans Get TV News at Home

TV News ViewingEven at a time of fragmenting media use, television remains the dominant way that Americans get news at home, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of Nielsen data. And while the largest audiences tune into local and network broadcast news, it is national cable news that commands the most attention from its viewers.

Almost three out of four U.S. adults (71%) watch local television news and 65% view network newscasts over the course of a month, according to Nielsen data from February 2013. While 38% of adults watch some cable news during the month, cable viewers—particularly the most engaged viewers—spend far more time with that platform than broadcast viewers do with local or network news.1

On average, the cable news audience devotes twice as much time to that news source as local and network news viewers spend on those platforms.  And the heaviest cable users are far more immersed in that coverage—watching for more than an hour a day—than the most loyal viewers of broadcast television news.  Even those adults who are the heaviest viewers of local and network news spend more time watching cable than those broadcast outlets.

Time Spent with TV NewsThe data in this study was prepared specifically for the Pew Research Center by Nielsen, the primary source of ratings and viewership information for the television industry. This comparison of in-home network and local television, cable and internet news consumption offers a unique look at how people get news across different platforms in a rapidly changing media environment. It is based on Nielsen’s national panel of metered homes and reflects viewership in the month of February 2013, which largely coincides with the first television “sweeps” period of the year. (See Methodology)

The numbers in this report dovetail with other data about television news viewership. A 2012 Pew Research Center survey of news consumption habits shows that local television remains the most popular way of accessing news. And Pew Research’s annual State of the News Media reportshows that the nightly network newscasts draw far larger audiences than the prime-time cable news shows.

But the deeper level of viewer engagement with cable news may help to explain why cable television—despite a more limited audience—seems to have an outsized ability to influence the national debate and news agenda. Previous Pew Research Center data have shown that in prime time—when the audience is the largest—cable talk shows tend to hammer away at a somewhat narrow news agenda that magnifies the day’s more polarizing and ideological issues. The Nielsen data make it clear that cable’s audience is staying for a healthy helping of that content.

In one finding that may seem counterintuitive in an era of profound political polarization, significant portions of the Fox News and MSNBC audiences spend time watching both channels. More than a third (34%) of those who watch the liberal MSNBC in their homes also tune in to the conservative Fox News Channel. The reverse is true for roughly a quarter (28%) of Fox News viewers. Even larger proportions of Fox News and MSNBC viewers, roughly half, also spend time watching CNN, which tends to be more ideologically balanced in prime time. (The channel’s new version of Crossfire, which debuted on Sept. 9, follows its formula of delivering opinion from both the left and right.)

Some of the key findings from this initial analysis include:

  • While the largest portion of Americans watch local and network TV news at home, those who tune into cable news do so for an average of 25 minutes a day. That is more than twice as much time as local and network TV viewers spend getting news on those platforms.
  • Even heavy viewers of local TV news and network news spend more time watching cable news than they do watching these respective platforms. The heaviest local news viewers spend, on average, 11 more minutes watching cable news than local news. The heaviest network news viewers spend about one more minute watching cable news than they do network news.
  • Across all three platforms, there is a very large gap between the heaviest news consumers and everyone else. The top third of network news viewers in terms of time spent, for example, average almost 32 minutes a day watching network news. The next third spends about one-sixth as much time, or five minutes, watching network news.
  • There is no news junkie like a cable junkie. The most dedicated cable news viewers average 72 minutes, more than an hour, of home viewing a day. That compares with about 32 minutes for the heaviest network news viewers and 22 minutes for the most engaged local news audience. There is, however, a precipitous drop—to only three minutes a day—for the second most dedicated group of cable watchers.
  • There is widespread news consumption across different platforms, particularly with broadcast news. Fully 90% of network news viewers also watch local news and 82% of local news viewers also tune in to network news. The result is that more than half (58%) of U.S. adults watch both network and local news.

How Many Watch TV News and When

Emerging digital technology has changed news consumption choices and habits, and in a report released last fall, Pew Research Center found that local television has experienced viewership declines in the last several years, most acutely among young people. Additionally, Pew Research has documented significant declines in Americans’ reliance on newspaper and radio over time.

At the same time, the Nielsen data provide a reminder of the central role television still plays in news consumption in the comfort of home. Almost three-quarters of Americans, (71%) watch local TV news and almost two-thirds, (65%) watch network news over the course of a month. And more than one-third (38%) of Americans watch news on cable television.

Although broadcast television may have a wider reach, cable news handily wins the competition for the time and attention of news consumers at home. People who watch cable news do so for an average of about 25 minutes a day, compared with the slightly more than 12 minutes a day local television and network news viewers spend on those platforms. Some of this is no doubt due to cable news’ role as an around-the-clock, news-on-demand operation.

On every television platform, viewership is largest in the evening and nighttime hours. The number of viewers watching cable news is quite stable between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., begins to grow modestly in the late afternoon and then peaks between 8-11 p.m.

The local news audience is highest during the late 11 p.m. newscast, with about 15% more viewers than the slots from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The early morning newscasts, from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m., generate about 60% of the viewership that the late night program does.

Heavy vs. Light TV News Viewers

Average Time News Consumers Spend on Various PlatformsA deeper analysis of television news watchers reveals major differences in the amount of time they spend on that activity. To illustrate this, the audience data were sliced into thirds based on the time spent watching each platform, and Nielsen averaged the viewing time for each of the three groups of viewers.

Overall, people in the top category for each platform—the heaviest users in terms of time spent—are far more engaged than those in tiers two and three. That is particularly true for cable. The heaviest users of cable news devote, on average, one hour and 12 minutes (72 minutes) a day to that platform. Viewing time drops off dramatically for the bottom two-thirds of cable news viewers. Those in the middle tier average slightly more than three minutes of viewing time and those at the bottom catch a glimpse for less than a minute.

Similarly, for local TV news, the top tier of viewers averages almost 22 minutes a day, compared with six and a half minutes a day for those in the middle tier and one minute for those on the bottom rung. At the network news level, the most engaged viewers watch for almost 32 minutes day. But that drops off to slightly more than five minutes for the next tier and less than one minute for the lightest viewers.

News Viewing is Dominated by the Very Engaged

According to the numbers, people who are heavy users of any type of television news tend to be heavy viewers of other platforms. But the heaviest viewers of cable news far outpace heavy viewers of local and network news, racking up almost 50 more minutes a day, on average, than the most dedicated local news viewers and approximately 40 more minutes than the top tier of network news viewers.

Even the heavy viewers of local and network news spend more time watching cable news than they do watching network and local news.

The most devoted local news viewers spend an average of about 22 minutes a day on local news compared with about 32 on cable. (They also spend almost 24 minutes a day watching network news.) The heaviest network news users spend about a half minute more (32 minutes) watching cable than network.

The heaviest cable news users also spend more time watching local news (almost 14 minutes) and network news (almost 17 minutes) than the average viewer does (around 12 minutes). But that time is low compared with the 72 minutes they spend watching cable news in the home.

Crossing Over: Many People Get News from More Than One Source

The Nielsen data clearly indicate that those who watch television news on one platform are likely to watch it on another—particularly when it comes to broadcast news. The greatest overlap occurs between local and network newscasts, which often are on the same channel. Fully 90% of network news viewers also watch local news and 82% of local news viewers also tune in to network news.

Cross-Platform News Consumption

The crossover is not as great from broadcast news (network and local) to cable. Slightly less than half—about 44%—of both network and of local news viewers also watch cable news.

Similarly, cable news viewers, while a smaller group overall, are heavy consumers of local and network news. Indeed, cable viewers exhibit the heaviest news consumption habits of any group measured here. Three out of four cable viewers (76%) also watch some network news and even more (82%) watch some local news.

Overall, more than half of adult Americans watch more than one form of television news. The biggest cross platform viewing involves the broadcast platforms, with 58% of the adult population watching both local and network news. Slightly more than half as many, 31%, watch local television and cable news, followed by the 29% of the population that watches both network and cable television news.

Hand Me the Remote: Viewers Flip Among Cable News Channels

Many Americans Consume News on Two PlatformsThe three major cable news competitors differ somewhat in their viewership levels, with CNN reaching 20% of U.S. adults, Fox News reaching 18% and MSNBC reaching 14%. CNN’s viewership lead is supported by years of datashowing it has a wider reach than its competitors, but weaker “appointment” viewership, meaning it is less successful in getting viewers to tune in regularly for scheduled programs, especially in prime time. That helps explain why CNN consistently trails Fox News Channel in the rating wars since Fox News has a clear lead over competitors in its prime-time programming.

Cable News Cross-PlatformOne of the most striking findings in this analysis is the degree to which viewers of one of the three cable news channels also view the competition. While the formats of the three major cable news channels are quite similar, there are significant ideological differences, most pronounced in prime time.

In the evening, Fox News boasts a lineup of conservative talk show hosts while MSNBC features a team of liberal ones. CNN, the original cable news outlet, has built its brand around national and global reporting of breaking news events. It also airs opinion in prime time, but includes commentators from both the right and the left.

The perception is that because of their distinct identities—and particularly because of the divergent ideological leanings of Fox News and MSNBC—the cable news channels appeal to different, politically segmented audiences. However the data show something different.

  • More than one-quarter (28%) of the people who watch Fox News also tune in to MSNBC. An even higher number (34%) of MSNBC viewers turn on Fox News.
  • There is even more crossover viewing when it comes to CNN. Slightly more than half (54%) of MSNBC viewers watch CNN, while 44% of Fox News viewers tune in to CNN. Healthy segments of the CNN audience also watch Fox News (39%) and MSNBC (38%).
  • Overall, 5% of the adult American population watches both MSNBC and Fox News. That is slightly lower than the percentage who watches both CNN and Fox (8%) or CNN and MSNBC (also 8%).
  • Despite some crossover, there are also viewers who watch only one of the three cable channels. Here, Fox News Channel narrowly has the largest singularly dedicated audience. About one- quarter of American adults, (24%) watch only Fox News, 23% watch only CNN and 15% watch only MSNBC.

Online News Consumption at Home

Cable News Websites Cross-PlatformAccording to the February 2013 data used in this study, about 38% of Americans access news online at home via a desktop or laptop computer. Nielsen’s online numbers—based on those who access news websites—do not measure those getting news at home from a smartphone or tablet device. This data also reflect the fact that those getting online news at home generally spend very small amounts of time on that task. On average, that amounts to 90 seconds per day getting news online.

Looking at the data by intensity of use, the heaviest online news users spent only about four minutes a day on that activity. Medium online news searchers spent about 18 seconds per day at that task, while light users spent less than six seconds.

Overlap Among Cable News Sites

Some of the most popular news websites are affiliated with the three major cable news channels. Though all three are consistently among the top 10 most trafficked news websites, their audiences are fairly small as a percentage of U.S. adults. (formerly is one of the most trafficked news sites on the web, but it still only reaches about 9% of adults in America, according to Nielsen. About 6% of the public gets news on each day. In addition, 5% of Americans get news from

When it comes to news consumers visiting multiple sites, 37% of those who visit also go to, while 22% of those who visit view  In addition, 28% of those who visited and 21% of those who visited also go to Among users, 26% also went to and 33% also went to

For the most part, there is more crossover news consumption on the television side of the three competitive cable news outlets than there is on their digital properties.

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