News preferences in flux


Local television is still the go-to news source for over half of all Americans, but it is now just getting barely over half to tune in, while cable and the internet take up the slack, according to a poll from The daily use of local television dropped from 55% in December 2006 to 51%, cable news moved up from 34% to 40% and the internet surged from 22% to 31%. Newspaper was an even bigger loser than local TV, although only slightly, dropping from 44% to 40%. Radio talk suffered a 2% loss from 20% to 18%.

Other results: The nightly network news programs were down slightly, from 35% to 34%; morning network news/interview programs gained slightly, from 28% to 29%; public TV was flat at 28%; NPR slipped from 19% to 18%; and the national newspapers actually bucked the print trend and improved from 7% to 9%.

As the new medium on the block, internet has been the growth monster. It’s daily users comprised just 5% of the population 10 years ago, and was only at 15% five years ago.

Among weekly news sources, the audiences for the Sunday morning network talkfests are up 19% to 21%; TV newsmagazines are down 20% to 17% and print news magazines have dwindled from 12% to 8%.

Television and print categories are strongest in the age 65+ demographic, not a great harbinger for the future. 63% of that group checks out local television news daily, compared to 36% in the 19-29 demo; the nightly network comparison of the two groups is 56% to 18%, and the newspaper comp is 68% to 22%. The numbers are, of course, reversed on the internet, with 14% of oldtimers and 36% of 18-29s logging on to internet news sites daily.

RBR/TVBR observation: It has been obvious that many people are migrating to the internet. The good news is that there is nothing stopping broadcasters from getting on the internet while maintaining their presence over the air. The even better news – the air assets can drive traffic to the internet site. The key is to have an internet presence that is useful and entertaining.