MORE FACT SHEETS: STATE OF THE NEWS MEDIA
Cable TV is home to a set of news channels that have become a destination for political news. In fact in 2016, cable news topped Americans’ list of most helpful source types for news and information about the presidential election. Financially, these channels have generally set themselves apart from other news media by their comparatively robust business model. Explore the patterns and longitudinal data about cable news below.
According to Pew Research Center analysis of Nielsen Media Research data, viewership increased for cable news channels in 2016. In prime time, combined average viewership for the three major news channels (CNN, Fox News and MSNBC) increased by 55% to 4.8 million viewers. (Audience data for the three major financial networks – CNBC, Fox Business and Bloomberg – are not available.)
Daytime (6 a.m. to 6 p.m.) average viewership also grew – up 36% over the previous year.
Total revenue across the three channels was projected to increase by 19% in 2016, to a total of nearly $5 billion, according to Pew Research Center analysis of SNL Kagan data. This includes increases in both of the main revenue sources: advertising and license (affiliate) fees. The three major financial networks (CNBC, Fox Business and Bloomberg) saw increases in total and license fee revenue, while ad revenue was flat.
- Total revenue
- Advertising revenue
- License fee revenue
Fox News, MSNBC and CNN were all projected to grow their profits in 2016, registering a combined increase of 29%.
In 2016, the three major cable news channels increased their overall newsroom spending by a combined 9%, according to projections by SNL Kagan, to $2.1 billion. The three major financial networks were also projected to increase their newsroom spending, in this case by 6% to $682 million.
Find out more
This fact sheet was compiled by Katerina Eva Matsa, who is a senior researcher focusing on journalism research at Pew Research Center.
Read the methodology.
Find more in-depth explorations of cable news by following the links below.
Trump, Clinton Voters Divided in Their Main Source for Election News Jan. 18, 2017
The Modern News Consumer July 7, 2016