Local TV news viewership plummeted last year, Pew says

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Age plays a significant factor in Pew’s research about TV news viewing habits. (iStock/AndreyPopov)

Fewer Americans are regularly getting their news from television, and those declines are impacting local TV news the most, according to new figures from the Pew Research Center.

In 2017, 37% of respondents for Pew’s survey said they often get their news from local television. That’s down from 46% in 2016.

But the good news is that local TV news still maintains the highest percentage for regular viewers, outpacing network and cable news. In 2017, 26% of people said they often get their news from the networks (down from 30% in 2016) and 28% said they often turn to cable news (down from 31% in 2016).

Overall, 50% of U.S. adults said last year that they regularly get their news from television, down from 57% in 2016.

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Age plays a significant factor in Pew’s research about TV news viewing habits, with older demographics overwhelmingly more likely to watch television news. Of 18 to 29-year-olds interviewed, 18% said they regularly watch local TV news, 8% watch network news and 10% watch cable news. On the opposite end of that, 57% of interviewees older than 65 watch local TV news, while 49% of that group watches network news and 58% watches cable news.

Education and income also impacted viewership for local TV news, according to Pew. Interviewees with high school educations or less relied the most on local TV news, while interviewees with college degrees and beyond relied on local TV news the least. That pattern continued for subjects making less than $30,000 annually and subjects making more than $75,000 annually.

Pew Research Center chart
(Pew Research Center)