MORE FACT SHEETS: STATE OF THE NEWS MEDIA
Network TV news – appointment viewing for more than 20 million Americans – has experienced relative stability in the size of its audience over the past decade. Financially, in recent years, the news programs of the three major networks – NBC, ABC and CBS – have generated growing revenue. Explore the patterns and longitudinal data about network TV news below.
Combined average viewership for the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts remained stable, down 1% in 2016, staying at about 24 million, according to Pew Research Center analysis of Nielsen Media Research data.
Viewership for morning newscasts – NBC’s Today, ABC’s Good Morning America and CBS This Morning – was also stable, down 1% in 2016, staying at about 13 million.
The combined average audience for the network Sunday political talk shows on NBC, ABC and CBS – Meet the Press, This Week and Face the Nation, respectively – grew 14% in 2016 from the year before. This follows an 8% increase from 2014 to 2015.
There is a fourth network-based Sunday political talk show: Fox News Sunday. It airs on Fox Broadcasting Company’s affiliate stations (separate from the cable entity) and is the only national-level news programming produced by the network. When those viewership figures are included in the mix the pattern for the year is the same – 14% growth.
Combined viewership for the six newsmagazine shows aired by the networks – CBS’s 60 Minutes and 48 Hours, ABC’s 20/20 and Nightline, and NBC’s Dateline Friday and Dateline Sunday – continued to decline in 2016 down 5% from 2015.
Advertising revenue estimates for the three evening news programs – NBC Nightly News, ABC’s World News Tonight and CBS Evening News – showed growth in 2016. For the first three quarters of 2016, combined revenues for the evening broadcast news programs were up an estimated 12% compared with the same three quarters in 2015, according to advertising revenue estimates from Kantar Media.
The three networks also experienced financial growth for the morning news programs from the previous year: up 3% to an estimated $836 million in advertising revenue for the period of January-September 2016.
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 network 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