Broadcast News Viewing Tops Cable Nets

A new report, released at the TVB Forward Conference ’12, shows that news on TV stations in the top markets dwarf the five major cable news networks’ national and in-market audiences.

TVB this morning released findings of an analysis showing that viewership for early and late evening news programming in the New York TV market outpaced the national audience delivery of the primary cable news networks’ primetime programming by 18% (persons 2+).

The analysis also points out that in each of the top 10 U.S. TV markets, the cable news networks’ audience was dwarfed by local TV stations, with cable delivering only 3%-8% of the in-market evening news audience. The analysis  released today at the TVB Forward Conference ’12, taking place in New York City, is based on a breakdown of May 2012 Nielsen Media Research data (April 26–May 23) and compares the audience delivery of local TV news to the five highest rated cable news networks (CNN, CNBC, FNC, HLN and MSNBC).

The local broadcast advantage over cable news is magnified to 168% when the analysis is broadened to the top three U.S. TV markets.  And, when compared to news audiences in the top 10 U.S. TV markets, local broadcast news beats the national cable news networks by over 430%.

Beyond local evening news’ significantly larger audience, a separate TVB study identified other benefits to advertisers using local broadcast news, including the ability to reach a more demographically balanced audience relative to that of primetime national cable news programming.  Among core adults 35+ news viewers, the aggregate audience for early and late local evening news in the top 10 U.S. TV markets had 38% of adults between the ages of 35 and 54 and 62% age 55+ compared to a much older skewing cable news audience in which 77% were over the age of 55.

The study also noted that the largest group of American voters are between the ages of 35 and 54 (39%), a demographic that is under-represented by primetime cable news (22%).

“The data is conclusive in highlighting the enormous audience reach and composition balance advantages local broadcast TV news provides advertisers compared with national cable primetime news networks,” said Steve Lanzano, TVB president. “It’s also clear from the findings that viewers aged 35-54 strongly favor local evening news over national cable primetime news.  The combined audience for early and late evening news in the Top 10 U.S. TV markets alone delivers an audience of nearly 6 million viewers nightly in this key demographic compared to an audience of approximately 700,000 viewers for national cable primetime news. 


“And, as noted in a recently released Pew Research Center report, local broadcast news programming has the highest positive rating for credibility,” Lanzano continued. “With the vast disparity in audience numbers, the significantly more attractive audience demographic and the broad gulf in credibility levels, it’s clear that in terms of reach and cost, advertising spending is maximized by purchasing spots during local broadcast news programming.”

The full report is available on the TVB website here.

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