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TV news hours soar in US

News, 13 April 2017
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NEW YORK: US viewers have consumed a record volume of TV news in the first 15 weeks of this year, a new study has found.

An analysis of the first 99 days of the news year, by Pivotal Research Group, found that the total volume of TV news viewing peaked at 44 billion hours – which represents 12% of all national TV viewing.

In a note sent to Pivotal's investors, and obtained by MediaPost, Brian Wieser, a senior analyst at the firm, said that TV news had enjoyed a 21% rate of growth during the new president's honeymoon period amidst an overall 1% decline in TV viewing.

Using a proprietary metric that Wieser calls "person-viewing hours," the analysis showed that news is playing an increasingly important role within those media companies that produce news programming.

Though particular numbers are uncertain, Wieser said that CNN, the cable news network, "likely accounts" for over 10% of Time Warner's profits. Elsewhere, he asserted that 21st Century Fox likely draws over a quarter of its profits from Fox News.

While the increase coincides with the dawn of the of Trump presidency, Weiser declined to comment on whether the White House's new occupant was driving consumers' interest in news broadcasting.

The report does, however, follow a trend that began in 2016, as the presidential election drove viewers to consume 11.3 billion more minutes of news a week than in 2015, according to Nielsen's Total Audience Report.Within the Nielsen report, cable TV news registered a 44% increase in minutes consumed per week, in a year that saw a slew of celebrity deaths, growing community tensions, Brexit, as well as the election of a new US president.

"Each of the news operations at CBS, Disney's ABC and Comcast's NBCU benefit their parent companies in meaningful ways," according to Wieser.

The benefits derived from a strong news division are not purely financial, he added, but accrue in the form of "the political influence that follows from these [news] divisions".

Data sourced from MediaPost, Nielsen; additional content by WARC staff

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