The now-nostalgic image of turning on the nightly news after dinner and catching up with the world is a fading memory of a bygone era. Now there is no “catching up” with the news because the news never stops. It’s a 24-hour cycle where an increasing number of outlets (ranging from major networks to individuals with live streams on social media) compete for viewership. So, what exactly are the trends in TV News?
The change in the pace of news is in something of a chicken-or-egg relationship with the way we consume it. Did we stop relying on television as a source for the news because of the new media available or did the new media platforms grow because we stopped relying on television? Either way, trends in TV news clearly show a decrease in the number of Americans who turn to television to get their information. According to Pew Research:
- Only 50% of American adults look to television to get their news on a regular basis, a 7% decrease from the previous year’s poll.
- The decrease was consistent across all news media outlets including local news, network TV news, and cable news.
- Cable news experienced the smallest decline.
Overall Trends in Viewership
What’s perhaps even more interesting than the overall trends in viewership is the way that these changes break down by demographic. Pew Research offers detailed insights into these trends.
- Viewers 65 and older are far more likely to consume television news than younger demographics.
- The more education viewers have, the less likely they are to consume television news.
- Political affiliation doesn’t have as much impact on local television viewing habits, but Democrats (30%) are more likely to watch network TV than Republicans (21%) while Republicans (32%) are more likely to watch cable news than Democrats (26%).
Even with these decreasing overall trends in place, there are some signs of a resurgence. For instance, cable news networks across the board showed sharp increases in viewership by the middle of 2017, according to Variety. While Fox News earned the top spot for overall viewers, by the end of 2017, MSNBC increased its viewership by the highest margin.
People Want Unbiased News Reporting
It’s difficult to say exactly what the future of news will look like, but one main reason people are turning away from TV news seems to be rooted in the perception of biased reporting. As Pew Research reports, there’s a global desire for unbiased news reporting, but many people feel dissatisfied with the bias in their current news sources. Only 47% of Americans polled felt the news handled political issues fairly.
These trends affect the way people are acquiring information, showing the importance of social media marketing and blogs.
Whereas many businesses used to invest a large portion of their marketing budget into creating and airing TV commercials, particularly during the coveted nightly news spot, the shift in TV trends have led to generating dynamic videos that can be uploaded or live-streamed to various social media platforms. Here they can be watched any time.
Although older Americans continue to turn to TV for information, younger generations have shied away from this medium. This means that the trend to look to other outlets aside from TV will continue to grow in the coming years. It also means that if a business does utilize TV commercials in their advertising, channel/network choice and time slot will be extremely important. Research and knowledge of target market demographics will be more important than ever before.