The Pew Research Institute’s 2016 State of the News Media report came out this summer and has some valuable insights. This is a comprehensive report on all segments of the news media from audience to industry economics and investment. As you might expect, newspaper circulation is down yet again and Cable TV viewership is up. While we’re often focused on financial news media we still find it helpful to pay attention to overall trends. Here are some interesting findings within the newspaper and Cable TV categories:
Newspaper results from the Pew Research Institute 2016 State of the News Media report:
- Weekday circulation fell 7% and Sunday circulation fell 4%, both showing their greatest declines since 2010.
- Print continues to be a crucial part of total newspaper distribution. In 2015, print circulation made up 78% of weekday circulation and 86% of all Sunday circulation. Only three newspapers had more average weekday digital circulation than average weekday print circulation in the same period.
- The survey data reinforces that most readers still want a printed newspaper. National readership data from Nielsen Scarborough’s 2015 Newspaper Penetration Report found that 51% of those who read a newspaper read it exclusively in print, while just 5% read it on desktop only, 5% read it on mobile only and 7% read it on both mobile and desktop. There has been some decline in the demand for print, from 62% print-only readership in 2011 and 59% in 2012 – but print is still most in demand.
- However, looking solely at newspaper subscribers doesn’t paint the full picture. The share of newspaper readers who report reading a newspaper in digital form, or who have digital subscriptions, is not the same as the share of Americans more broadly who come across individual stories hosted on a newspaper’s website as they surf the web. The findings reported above are based on survey questions asked of individuals who self-reported reading a newspaper online or in print in the past 30 days. It does not include everyone who lands upon a newspaper website while searching for news information or following a link from an email or social networking post. These consumers of individual bits of information may not remember having read a newspaper, or have even realized that they did.
- While 75% of total newspaper advertising revenue came from non-digital sources, the number of Americans reading printed newspapers continues to decline. A recent Pew Research Center survey found that 36% of U.S. adults learned something about the election in the past week from a print newspaper. This was lower than the portion that learned from radio (44%), digital sources (65%) or television sources (78%). They also found that the portion of adults who often get news from print newspapers (20%) falls behind those who learned from radio (25%), news websites and apps (28%) and all forms of television. Until a decade ago, newspapers were the leading source for news for the general public, outranking radio and the internet, but that picture has clearly changed.
Cable TV results from the Pew Research Institute 2016 State of the News Media report:
- Cord cutters are a reality for the pay TV industry. But even with all the available platform choices, more viewers turned to cable news channels in 2015 than in 2014, due in part to interest in the 2016 presidential campaign.
- In prime time – the premier time slot for advertisers – combined average viewership rose for the three major news channels (CNN, Fox News and MSNBC) by 8% to 3.1 million, according to Pew Research Center analysis of Nielsen Media Research data. The cable viewership increase was largely due to CNN, which experienced a sharp uptick, growing its evening viewership 38% to an average of 712,000 viewers. Cable-hosted presidential candidate debates helped drive some of the surge in viewership. Fox remained the evening viewership leader with 1.8 million (up 3% over 2014 levels). MSNBC was down 1% to 579,000.
- Daytime viewership grew as well for these three 24-hour news channels in 2015. Between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., average viewership for the three channels combined increased 9% to 2 million. Here, growth was spread more evenly between the three major channels: CNN increased its viewership by 17% to an average of 517,000; MSNBC by 8% to 321,000; and Fox News by 7% to 1.2 million.
- The total average viewership over a 24-hour period for Fox News, CNN and MSNBC combined increased 7% in 2015 to an average of 1.9 million. For CNN, that meant 23% growth to 490,000; for MSNBC, 2% growth to 352,000; and for Fox News, 3% growth to 1.1 million viewers.
- For the three main news channels combined (Fox News, CNN and MSNBC), total revenues were projected to increase by 10% in 2015, to a total of $4 billion, according to Pew Research Center analysis of SNL Kagan data.