State of the News Media 2015
Network News: Fact Sheet
Last updated April 2015
The three commercial broadcast networks saw a positive audience picture in 2014. Evening newscast viewership grew slightly for the second year in a row, while morning newscasts saw a 2% growth in average viewership, following a 7% increase in 2013. The three networks’ financial indicators had mixed fortunes in 2014 – ABC and CBS enjoyed financial increases, but NBC saw declines. Nevertheless, the networks’ online presences remain among the top domestic news destinations.
Combined average viewership for the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts increased 5% in 2014, to about 24 million, according to Pew Research Center analysis of Nielsen Media Research data. This follows a smaller uptick in 2013.
NBC experienced the greatest increase (6%) and held its lead with an average viewership of 8.9 million.
Despite the departure of anchor Diane Sawyer, average viewership for ABC World News grew 5%, to 8 million nightly viewers on average, and CBS Evening News saw 4% growth, to 6.8 million viewers.
Morning newscasts overall enjoyed 2% growth, to about 14 million on average. Average viewership for ABC’s Good Morning America was flat, but with 5.4 million viewers the network managed to maintain its lead over CBS and NBC for a third consecutive year. NBC’s Today Show posted a 3% growth, to 4.9 million viewers on average, while CBS’ This Morning saw 5% growth, to 3.3 million viewers.
Overall, network TV morning news viewership has grown 4% since 2008, but that growth has not been evenly distributed across the networks. Good Morning America’s viewership has grown 23% since 2008; This Morning has grown 4%, while the Today Show has shed about 680,000 viewers since 2008, a loss of 12%.
Sunday Morning Talk Shows
The combined average audience for the Sunday political talk shows on ABC, CBS and NBC in 2014 was 8.6 million people, trailing the weekly morning news audience by about 5 million. CBS’ Face the Nation remained at the top, attracting more than 3 million viewers on average, up 2% from the year before. ABC’s This Week came in second with 2.8 million viewers, up 7% from 2013.
NBC’s Meet the Press, on the other hand, continued to lose viewers in 2014. After a 6% decline in 2013, the show lost another 4% in 2014, to an average of 2.7 million people. And that decline cut across the entire year, even after the network in September replaced David Gregory with Chuck Todd (down 5% between September and December 2014, compared with the same period in 2013).
For the past 19 years, Fox has provided its broadcast affiliates with a Sunday morning talk show, Fox News Sunday, which came in fourth place with 1.2 million viewers, up 6% from the year before.
TV News Magazines
Audiences for most television news magazine programs were down or flat in 2014. The two exceptions were ABC’s 20/20 (15% growth) and Dateline NBC’s Friday edition (up 10%).
Revenue estimates for individual news programs suggest that two of the broadcast networks – ABC and CBS – improved financially in 2014, while NBC experienced a decline.
According to advertising revenue estimates from Kantar Media, ABC’s revenue for the nightly broadcast has almost caught up with NBC’s. ABC World News increased its revenue an estimated 11% to $144 million for the first three quarters of 2014, while NBC Nightly News saw an estimated revenue decline of 4% to $148 million. CBS Evening News, meanwhile, generated an estimated $117 million in January-September 2014, up 1% from the same period in 2013.
In the morning, CBS’ This Morning saw the greatest year-to-year growth (11%) but the show brought in the least revenue for 2014 – $162 million, according to the same data. ABC’s Good Morning America generated more than twice as much – an estimated $363 million, up 4% from 2013. NBC’s Today Show remained the revenue leader at an estimated $435 million, but saw its revenue decline 12% from 2013.
The three commercial broadcast networks rank among the top domestic news and information destinations online, according to data provided by the analytics firm comScore. When looking at the networks’ news divisions, all three have a robust online presence. The digital partnership between ABC and Yahoo in 2011 has given ABC News an edge over the other two networks. In addition, all three of the network news entities received more visits via a mobile device than a desktop, according to data from the sample month of January 2015. (For more on online traffic for digital news, read here.)
Network TV Evening News Ratings Over Time (since 1980 November to November)
Network TV Evening News Viewership Over Time (since 1980 November to November)