Trends and Facts on Network News

MORE FACT SHEETS: STATE OF THE NEWS MEDIA

Network TV news – appointment viewing for many Americans – saw its audience decline over the past year. Financially, advertiser expenditure for the news programs of the three major networks – ABC, CBS and NBC – has been steady in recent years. Explore the patterns and longitudinal data about network TV news below.

Audience

The average audience for the evening newscasts for ABC, CBS and NBC remained relatively stable in 2018, with 5.3 million viewers tuning in on average, compared with 5.2 million in 2017, according to Comscore TV Essentials® data. (Average audience is defined as the average number of TVs tuned to a program throughout a time period.)

Average audience for network TV evening news

Year Evening news
audience
2016 5,622,630
2017 5,223,985
2018 5,348,408

Pew Research Center

Previous versions of this fact sheet included audience data stretching back to 2008. That data is available in the archived 2017 fact sheet.

Average audience for morning news programs from ABC, CBS and NBC declined over the past year, down 4% in 2018, to about 3.2 million from 3.3 million.

Average audience for network TV morning news

Year Morning news
audience
2016 3,698,547
2017 3,324,744
2018 3,187,703

Pew Research Center

Average audience for the network TV Sunday morning political talk shows on ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC – This Week, Face the Nation, Fox News Sunday and Meet the Press, respectively – declined 8% in 2018, to about 2.3 million average viewers.

Average audience for network TV Sunday morning political talk shows

Year Sunday morning political
talk show audience
2016 2,492,030
2017 2,457,208
2018 2,264,215

Pew Research Center

The average audience for the four newsmagazine shows aired by the networks – ABC’s 20/20, CBS’s 60 Minutes and 48 Hours, and NBC’s Dateline – declined in 2018, down 8% from 2017.

Average audience for network TV newsmagazines

Year Newsmagazine
audience
2016 3,946,580
2017 3,467,870
2018 3,188,688

Pew Research Center

Economics

Combined advertiser expenditures for the evening broadcast news programs, ABC’s World News Tonight, CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News, were $518 million in 2018, a decline of 6% compared with 2017, according to estimates from Kantar Media. (This data reflects the amount of money paid by advertisers, rather than the amount of revenue actually earned by networks.)

Advertiser expenditure for evening network news

Year Average expenditure
2013 $454,208,000
2014 $466,054,900
2015 $500,292,700
2016 $547,932,400
2017 $552,369,500
2018 $518,015,900

Pew Research Center

The three networks’ advertiser expenditures for the morning news programs saw a slight increase in 2018, increasing 3% to $1.13 billion from $1.09 billion.

Advertiser expenditure for morning network news

Year Average expenditure
2013 $991,814,500
2014 $982,048,500
2015 $1,072,226,300
2016 $1,105,728,100
2017 $1,089,767,000
2018 $1,125,650,000

Pew Research Center

Find out more

This fact sheet was compiled by Associate Director Katerina Eva Matsa and Research Assistant Mason Walker.

Read the methodology.

Find more in-depth explorations of network news by following the links below:

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