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Fact Sheet

June 25, 2019

Network News Fact Sheet

    MORE FACT SHEETS: STATE OF THE NEWS MEDIA

    Network TV news – appointment viewing for many Americans – saw its audience decline over the past year. Financially, advertiser expenditure for the news programs of the three major networks – ABC, CBS and NBC – has been steady in recent years. Explore the patterns and longitudinal data about network TV news below.

    Audience

    The average audience for the evening newscasts for ABC, CBS and NBC remained relatively stable in 2018, with 5.3 million viewers tuning in on average, compared with 5.2 million in 2017, according to Comscore TV Essentials® data. (Average audience is defined as the average number of TVs tuned to a program throughout a time period.)

    Average audience for network TV evening news

    Year Evening news
    audience
    2016 5,622,630
    2017 5,223,985
    2018 5,348,408

    Pew Research Center

    Previous versions of this fact sheet included audience data stretching back to 2008. That data is available in the archived 2017 fact sheet.

    Average audience for morning news programs from ABC, CBS and NBC declined over the past year, down 4% in 2018, to about 3.2 million from 3.3 million.

    Average audience for network TV morning news

    Year Morning news
    audience
    2016 3,698,547
    2017 3,324,744
    2018 3,187,703

    Pew Research Center

    Average audience for the network TV Sunday morning political talk shows on ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC – This Week, Face the Nation, Fox News Sunday and Meet the Press, respectively – declined 8% in 2018, to about 2.3 million average viewers.

    Average audience for network TV Sunday morning political talk shows

    Year Sunday morning political
    talk show audience
    2016 2,492,030
    2017 2,457,208
    2018 2,264,215

    Pew Research Center

    The average audience for the four newsmagazine shows aired by the networks – ABC’s 20/20, CBS’s 60 Minutes and 48 Hours, and NBC’s Dateline – declined in 2018, down 8% from 2017.

    Average audience for network TV newsmagazines

    Year Newsmagazine
    audience
    2016 3,946,580
    2017 3,467,870
    2018 3,188,688

    Pew Research Center

    Economics

    Combined advertiser expenditures for the evening broadcast news programs, ABC’s World News Tonight, CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News, were $518 million in 2018, a decline of 6% compared with 2017, according to estimates from Kantar Media. (This data reflects the amount of money paid by advertisers, rather than the amount of revenue actually earned by networks.)

    Advertiser expenditure for evening network news

    Year Average expenditure
    2013 $454,208,000
    2014 $466,054,900
    2015 $500,292,700
    2016 $547,932,400
    2017 $552,369,500
    2018 $518,015,900

    Pew Research Center

    The three networks’ advertiser expenditures for the morning news programs saw a slight increase in 2018, increasing 3% to $1.13 billion from $1.09 billion.

    Advertiser expenditure for morning network news

    Year Average expenditure
    2013 $991,814,500
    2014 $982,048,500
    2015 $1,072,226,300
    2016 $1,105,728,100
    2017 $1,089,767,000
    2018 $1,125,650,000

    Pew Research Center

    Find out more

    This fact sheet was compiled by Associate Director Katerina Eva Matsa and Research Assistant Mason Walker.

    Read the methodology.

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