Cable news loses eyes, online and local news gain viewers, report says

Perhaps it's the glut of always-on news programming or the strident argumentative styles adopted by today's cable news programs, but viewers are moving away from traditional cable news outlets and, by all indications, moving toward both online news and local news, a report from the Pew Research Center said.

Pew Research cable tv viewershipThe report, "Key Indicators in Media and News," showed that the median prime time viewership for CNN, Fox News and MSNBC dropped 11 percent--about 3 million viewers-its lowest figure since 2007. MSNBC was down 24 percent in prime time while CNN lost 13 percent of its audience and Fox lost 6 percent. Daytime audience numbers were a bit better, with CNN up 12 percent and Fox up 2 percent, and MSNBC falling 15.5 percent.

In a related pair of reports, "News Video on the Web" and "The Audience for Digital News Videos," Pew researchers took a deeper look at the growing audience for online video, especially digital news.

The Pew study found that 63 percent of U.S. adults watch online video and 36 percent of those watch news videos online. In 2007 those numbers were 40 percent and 26 percent, respectively.

"To put those video watching numbers in context, it is worth remembering that YouTube wasn't founded until 2005 and was purchased by Google in 2006. The first iPhone was released in 2007 and in-home broadband penetration that year was just 47 percent," the report cautioned.

Still, the numbers suggest that viewer eyes are moving from more traditional forms of TV news to online.

"Online video is clearly becoming part of the news media landscape," the research concluded, before adding the caveat that "online video is also very much still in development."

Not so much in development, but certainly in transformative evolution, local news seemed to be on an upward trend in 2013, the Pew research said.

"Viewership increased in every key time slot. Local morning news gained 6.3 percent; early evening newscasts followed with a 3.3 percent increase and late night news programs were flat (up 0.1 percent)," the report stated.

This reversed a downward spiral that had been going on across every time slot from 2008 to 2012.

For more:
- FierceOnlineVideo has this coverage
- Pew Research issued this report
- see its section on news video on the Web
- and the section on the audience for digital news videos

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