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Fact Sheet

June 25, 2019

Cable News Fact Sheet

    MORE FACT SHEETS: STATE OF THE NEWS MEDIA

    Cable TV is home to a set of television channels whose news broadcasts have become an important information source for many Americans. In 2018, both the evening and daytime cable news audiences increased. Financially, these cable news channels have set themselves apart from other news media with their comparatively robust business model. Explore the patterns and longitudinal data about cable news below.

    Audience

    According to Comscore TV Essentials® data, viewership increased for the three major cable news channels (CNN, Fox News and MSNBC) in 2018. The average combined audience (defined as the average number of TVs tuned to a program throughout a time period) for the prime news time slot (8 p.m. to 11 p.m.) of these three networks increased 8%, to about 1.25 million. (Audience data for the three major financial networks – CNBC, Fox Business and Bloomberg – is not included here.) The average audience for the daytime news time slot (6 a.m. to 6 p.m.) increased by 5%.

    Average audience for cable TV news

    Year Daytime news Prime news
    2016 794,979 1,311,210
    2017 784,088 1,154,876
    2018 821,895 1,245,375

    Pew Research Center

    Previous versions of this fact sheet included audience data stretching back to 2007. That data is available in the 2017 archived fact sheet.

    Economics

    Total revenue across the three channels increased by 4% in 2018 to a total of $5.3 billion, according to estimates from Kagan, a media research group in S&P Global Market Intelligence. This includes increases in both main revenue sources: advertising and license (affiliate) fees. The three major financial networks (CNBC, Fox Business and Bloomberg) saw little growth in either their advertising or license revenue, which leaves total revenue on par with 2017.

    Revenue for cable TV

    • Total
    • Advertising
    • License fee

    Combined annual profit for Fox News, MSNBC and CNN was projected to grow 4% in 2018, to $2.8 billion.

    Total profit for cable TV

    Year Fox News, CNN and MSNBC CNBC, Fox Business and Bloomberg
    2012 $1,581,800,000 $402,000,000
    2013 $1,665,200,000 $429,500,000
    2014 $1,678,000,000 $477,500,000
    2015 $1,896,500,000 $524,900,000
    2016 $2,381,200,000 $542,400,000
    2017 $2,730,400,000 $549,700,000
    2018 $2,845,100,000 $562,900,000

    Pew Research Center

    Newsroom investment

    Total newsroom spending by the three channels combined increased by 5% in 2018 to a total of $2.4 billion, according to estimates by Kagan. Newsroom spending at the three major financial networks was $725 million, a 3% change.

    Newsroom spending for cable TV

    Year Fox News, CNN and MSNBC CNBC, Fox Business and 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 $1,932,900,000 $620,800,000
    2015 $1,971,600,000 $641,600,000
    2016 $2,160,400,000 $681,800,000
    2017 $2,300,700,000 $702,700,000
    2018 $2,411,500,000 $724,500,000

    Pew Research Center

    About 2,700 employees worked as reporters, editors, photographers, camera operators and film and video editors in cable TV newsrooms in 2018, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment Statistics. This is on par with 2015, when there were about 2,800 news employees.

    The median wage for editors was about $62,000 per year in 2018, followed by reporters at about $53,000, camera operators and film and video editors at about $49,000, and photographers at about $47,000.

    Employment in cable TV newsrooms

    • Employees
    • Wages

    Find out more

    This fact sheet was compiled by Senior Writer/Editor Elizabeth Grieco.

    Read the methodology.

    Find more in-depth explorations of cable news by following the links below: