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.
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%.
Previous versions of this fact sheet included audience data stretching back to 2007. That data is available in the 2017 archived fact sheet.
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
- License fee
Combined annual profit for Fox News, MSNBC and CNN was projected to grow 4% in 2018, to $2.8 billion.
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.
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
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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:
- Social media outpaces print newspapers in the U.S. as a news source, Dec. 10, 2018
- American Still Prefer Watching to Reading the News – and Mostly Still Through Television, Dec. 3, 2018
- 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