Network TV Audience Trends
2006 Annual Report
Nightly News Audience Demographics
A major factor in all such calculations is the age of the audience of the network evening news. The evening newscasts, according to information from the December 2005 edition of MAGNA Global’s quarterly “daypart briefings” report, skews older than any other component of network programming. An expanding range of media options heightens this concern. Age groups that once naturally began watching the nightly newscast as they spent evenings at home with their families may now be as likely to turn to online or other alternative resources for news.
According to the December season-to-date numbers, the median age of nightly network news viewers remained basically unchanged at roughly 60.5 But the figures were not the same across the board. The median age of two of the Big Three’s broadcasts, ABC and NBC, was slightly younger in 2005. The CBS Evening News audience, fronted in 2005 by 66-year-old Bob Schieffer, was older compared to data from 2004.
The changes naturally raise the question whether placing younger people in the anchor chairs (the NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams is 46, ABC’s Bob Woodruff is 44 and Elizabeth Vargas is 43) will attract younger viewers. Or do the limitations of time slot, the pull against innovation for fear of losing the existing audience base, and the traditional anchor-dominated style of an 18-minute evening newscast put inevitable limits on how much younger viewers will gravitate to those programs?