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Fact Sheet

June 1, 2017

Cable News Fact Sheet

    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.

    Audience

    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.)

    Prime-time cable viewership

    Year Viewership
    2007 2,731,000
    2008 4,262,000
    2009 3,889,000
    2010 3,374,000
    2011 3,332,000
    2012 3,625,000
    2013 2,969,000
    2014 2,844,000
    2015 3,080,000
    2016 4,764,000

    Pew Research Center

    Daytime (6 a.m. to 6 p.m.) average viewership also grew – up 36% over the previous year.

    Daytime cable viewership

    Year Viewership
    2007 1,579,000
    2008 2,053,000
    2009 2,187,000
    2010 1,941,000
    2011 1,982,000
    2012 2,043,000
    2013 1,976,000
    2014 1,826,000
    2015 1,997,000
    2016 2,722,000

    Pew Research Center

    Economics

    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%.

    Cable TV total profit

    Year Fox News, CNN, MSNBC CNBC, Fox Business, Bloomberg
    2012 $1,581,800,000 $402,000,000
    2013 $1,665,200,000 $429,500,000
    2014 $1,737,100,000 $477,500,000
    2015 $2,071,300,000 $524,900,000
    2016 $2,670,400,000 $542,900,000

    Pew Research Center

    Newsroom investment

    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.

    Cable TV newsroom spending

    Year Fox News, CNN, MSNBC CNBC, Fox Business, Bloomberg
    2006 $1,225,400,000 $292,400,000
    2007 $1,303,500,000 $400,500,000
    2008 $1,417,500,000 $478,100,000
    2009 $1,423,500,000 $472,200,000
    2010 $1,525,700,000 $505,100,000
    2011 $1,649,700,000 $538,600,000
    2012 $1,787,900,000 $577,600,000
    2013 $1,833,200,000 $593,700,000
    2014 $1,903,300,000 $620,800,000
    2015 $1,916,100,000 $641,600,000
    2016 $2,092,900,000 $681,800,000

    Pew Research Center

    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