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Fact Sheet

July 25, 2018

Network News Fact Sheet


    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.


    The average audience for the evening newscasts for ABC, CBS and NBC decreased by 7% in 2017, down to 5.2 million, compared with 5.6 million in 2016, 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
    2016 5,622,630
    2017 5,223,985

    Pew Research Center

    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 2008 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.

    Average audience for morning news programs from ABC, CBS and NBC also declined over the past year, down 10% in 2017, to about 3 million.

    Average audience for network TV morning news

    Year Morning news
    2016 3,698,547
    2017 3,324,744

    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 – remained stable, down 1% in 2017, staying at about 2 million.

    Average audience for network TV Sunday morning political talk shows

    Year Sunday morning political
    talk show audience
    2016 2,377,826
    2017 2,352,338

    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 2017, down 12% from 2016.

    Average audience for network TV newsmagazines

    Year Newsmagazine
    2016 3,946,580
    2017 3,467,870

    Pew Research Center


    Combined advertiser expenditures for the evening broadcast news programs, ABC’s World News Tonight, CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News, were $552 million, roughly the same as 2016, according to estimates from Kantar Media. (These data reflect 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

    Pew Research Center

    The three networks also saw no change in advertiser expenditures for the morning news programs from the previous year, holding roughly steady at $1.1 billion in 2017.

    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

    Pew Research Center

    Find out more

    This fact sheet was compiled by Associate Director Katerina Eva Matsa.

    Read the methodology.

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