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 2017, however, the evening news audience declined while the daytime audience remained stable. Financially, these 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.
According to comScore TV Essentials® data, viewership declined for the three major cable news channels (CNN, Fox News and MSNBC) in 2017. The average audience (defined as the average number of TVs tuned to a program throughout a time period) for the evening news time slot (8 p.m. to 11 p.m.) of these three networks declined 12%, to about 1.2 million. (Audience data for the three major financial networks – CNBC, Fox Business and Bloomberg – are not included here.) The average audience for the daytime time slot (6 a.m. to 6 p.m.) remained relatively stable.
In 2018, Pew Research Center began using data from comScore TV Essentials® for this audience analysis, and as such, the current fact sheet includes figures for only the past two years. Previous versions of this fact sheet included data stretching back to 2007 and used data from Nielsen Media Research. Those data are available in the 2017 archived fact sheet. Because of various differences between the two sets of data points, figures from prior years are not directly comparable with the data shown here.
Total revenue across the three channels increased by 10% in 2017 to a total of $5 billion, according to SNL Kagan estimates. 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 little to no growth in either their advertising or license revenue, which leaves total revenue on par with 2016.
Revenue for cable TV
- License fee
Fox News, MSNBC and CNN were all projected to grow their profits in 2017, registering a combined increase of 13%.
Total newsroom spending by the three channels combined increased by 6% in 2017 to a total of $2.3 billion, according to estimates by SNL Kagan. Newsroom spending at the three major financial networks was $703 million, a 3% change.
About 2,900 employees worked as reporters, editors, photographers, camera operators and film and video editors in cable TV newsrooms in 2017, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment Statistics. This is on par with 2004 – in spite of fluctuations over the last 14 years – but is up 33% from 2014 when about 2,200 people worked in cable TV newsrooms.
The median wage for editors was about $63,000 per year in 2017, followed by reporters at about $55,000 and photographers at about $48,000. Data were not available in 2017 for camera operators and film and video editors.
Employment in cable TV newsrooms
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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:
- Fewer Americans rely on TV news; what type they watch varies by who they are, Jan. 5, 2018
- Trump, Clinton Voters Divided in Their Main Source for Election News, Jan. 18, 2017
- The Modern News Consumer, July 7, 2016