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Tech / Cable

Like Print, TV News Is Losing Audience

September 27, 2012

Americans' decreasing reliance on old forms of media such as newspapers may finally be dragging down television news as younger Americans turn to social media and other sources for news and information, a new report released Thursday found.

The survey from the Pew Research Center for The People and The Press found that, "there are now signs that television news - which so far has held onto its audience through the rise of the Internet - also is increasingly vulnerable, as it may be losing its hold on the next generation of news consumers."

The report found the percentage of Americans who said they had gotten their news in the last day from TV news sources has fallen from 57 percent in 2006 to 55 percent in Pew's latest survey. The decline was much more pronounced among younger viewers, those 18-29, falling from 49 percent in 2006 to 34 percent in 2012. Younger Americans are instead finding news on social media sites like Facebook.

The report found the percentage of Americans who got news or news headlines from social media increased from nine percent in 2010 to 19 percent in the latest survey. Of those under the age of 30, 33 percent said they looked to a social media site for news. Only 13 percent of these younger Americans said they read a print or digital newspaper site for news.

Overall, the number of print newspaper readers fell from 26 percent in 2010 to 23 percent in the latest survey, a telephone poll of 3,003 adults conducted May 9-June 3. The decline in newspaper readers is even bigger when you compare it with a decade ago when 41 percent of Americans said they had read a newspaper in the last day.

Younger viewers are watching both cable and local TV news much less than older Americans. Local TV stations have seen a bigger slide since 2006 when 54 percent of all Americans said they regularly watch local news compared to 48 percent in the latest survey.

After seeing a rise over the period between 2008 and 2010, cable news viewership remains at the same 34 percent today as it was in 2006, but the audience is getting older. During this period, the percentage of cable viewers under 30 fell from 29 percent to 23 percent, while viewers over the age of 65 increased from 38 percent to 51 percent. When it comes to local TV news, even Americans 65 and older are watching less, 63 percent today compared with 65 percent in 2006. Local news viewership among the under 30 crowd has fallen from 42 percent in 2006 to 28 percent this year.

CNN has seen the biggest drop in viewers among the big three cable news networks, attracting only 16 percent of Americans compared with 24 percent in 2008. Viewership for CNN's competitors, however, has grown slightly. MSNBC now attracts about 11 percent of Americans compared with 8 percent in 2008 while Fox News' viewership has grown from 17 percent to 21 percent.

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