April 29, 2015

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.

The Audience for Evening News Grows

Year Viewership
2008 22.9
2009 22.3
2010 21.6
2011 22.5
2012 22.1
2013 22.6
2014 23.7

Source: Nielsen Media Research

Pew Research Center

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.

Evening News Audience Rises at NBC, ABC and CBS

2008 8,557,000 8,169,000 6,167,000
2009 8,622,000 7,725,000 5,981,000
2010 8,501,000 7,427,000 5,648,000
2011 8,752,000 7,824,000 5,973,000
2012 8,496,000 7,496,000 6,138,000
2013 8,425,000 7,654,000 6,525,000
2014 8,895,000 8,000,000 6,804,000

Source: Nielsen Media Research

Pew Research Center

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%.

Morning News Audience Rises at NBC and CBS, Stays Flat at ABC

2008 5,540,100 4,417,100 3,165,700
2009 5,471,100 4,265,700 3,067,700
2010 5,270,000 4,294,200 2,858,600
2011 5,439,300 4,783,000 2,866,800
2012 4,917,400 4,918,100 2,728,400
2013 4,716,700 5,443,000 3,121,300
2014 4,857,700 5,449,900 3,289,100

Source: Nielsen Media Research

Pew Research Center

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).

Meet the Press Viewership Continues to Decline

This Week Face the Nation Fox News Sunday Meet the Press
2012* 2,570,300 2,969,200 2,935,200
2013 2,609,800 3,063,300 1,159,900 2,752,100
2014 2,788,000 3,109,300 1,231,500 2,653,400

Source: Nielsen Media Research
Note: 2012 average viewership includes data from July to December 2012. 2013 and 2014 averages reflect full year data. 2012 data are not available for Fox News Sunday.

Pew Research Center

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%).

TV News Magazine Viewership

Nightline 20/20 Fri. 48 Hours 60 Minutes Dateline Fri. Dateline Sun.
2009 3,736,300 6,079,700 6,065,600 11,882,500 6,120,900 5,283,600
2010 3,674,900 5,533,000 5,767,800 11,659,000 6,016,500 4,490,000
2011 3,886,500 4,910,500 5,386,600 11,568,200 5,701,400 4,727,400
2012 3,655,000 5,176,500 4,998,500 11,084,300 4,776,300 5,152,600
2013 1,555,300 5,102,100 5,148,300 10,756,800 5,787,500 5,792,700
2014 1,538,900 5,858,300 4,606,000 10,771,000 6,384,800 5,262,000

Source: Nielsen Media Research
Note: Dateline Sunday only airs in the spring; Dateline Friday data for the month of April 2013 are not available and therefore not included in the 2013 average.

Pew Research Center


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.

ABC Approaches NBC in Evening News Revenue

NBC (Nightly News) ABC (World News Tonight) CBS (Evening News)
2013 154.715 130.000 115.946
2014 148.398 143.788 117.209

Source: Kantar Media

Pew Research Center

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.

Today Show Remains Morning Show Revenue Leader

NBC (Today) ABC (GMA) CBS (This Morning)
2013 497.095 350.200 146.485
2014 435.340 362.894 162.088

Source: Kantar Media

Pew Research Center

Digital Audience

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.)

Mobile Traffic Key to Television Networks’ Online Presence

Total Digital Population Desktop Mobile
ABC News 65,300 28,381 39,616
NBC News 56,424 22,353 37,153
CBS News 47,053 18,371 31,471

Source: comScore Media Metrix, January 2015, U.S.
Notes: Total digital population is the unduplicated combination of the desktop (web browsing and video) and mobile (websites and apps) traffic figures. For that reason, desktop and mobile figures combined may exceed the total digital population number. Data reflect the news divisions’ groupings, which are part of larger properties. For this reason, the data here differ from what is reflected in the digital audience fact sheet.

Pew Research Center

More Data

Network TV Evening News Program Ratings

Network TV Evening News Ratings Over Time by Network

Network TV Evening News Ratings Over Time (since 1980 November to November)

Network TV Evening News Viewership Over Time (since 1980 November to November)

Network TV News Magazine Share by Program

Network TV News Magazine Ratings by Program

Network TV Overall Morning News Viewership