C-SPAN Turns 30

By SteveK 

On this day 30 years ago, C-SPAN launched in 3.5 million homes. Now the network is available in 97 million cable/satellite households and, according to a Hart Research survey conducted in conjunction with C-SPAN’s 30th anniversary, 40 percent of Americans said they’ve watched the channel at some time in the past six months.

62% said they watched the network’s Presidential election coverage, and 61% said they have watched C-SPAN’s congressional coverage.

C-SPAN has launched a “30 Years” Website commemorating the anniversary, which includes the first C-SPAN coverage (of the U.S. House of Representatives) on March 19, 1979.

Click continued to see the release…


A new survey conducted by Hart Research in conjunction with C-SPAN’s 30-year anniversary finds that 20 percent of cable TV households, an estimated 39 million Americans, watch C-SPAN regularly — at least once or twice a week. The survey also illustrates an audience that is politically active, nearly equally liberal and conservative, and geographically diverse. Ninety percent of C-SPAN viewers say they voted in 2008.

March 19th, 2009 marks 30 years since the U.S. House of Representatives first went on television and the cable industry launched C-SPAN to 3.5 million homes. Today, C-SPAN’s public affairs programming is available in 97 million cable/satellite households and fully 40 percent of cable viewers participating in this Hart survey report watching C-SPAN at some time in the past six months — an estimated 78 million adults– with 20 percent watching regularly. The survey results also illustrate the connection between viewers of the cable TV public affairs network and the political process.

C-SPAN Viewers Demonstrate Their Political Interest and Involvement
Sixty percent of C-SPAN viewers told Hart Research that their interest in news about politics, Congress, and the White House had increased over the last five years; and, 83 percent say that they follow news and current events “closely” or “fairly closely.” Nearly 50% of viewers have watched their Member of Congress or home state U.S. Senator on C-SPAN-and 54% of all C-SPAN viewers say their own Representative is doing an “excellent” or “good” job.

In addition to their high levels of voting (90%), C-SPAN viewers are active citizens:

35% have contributed money to a political campaign.
32% have written their member of Congress, Senator, or local elected official.
22% have visited or talked in person with their member of Congress.

C-SPAN viewers are influencers who share their political views with others:

12% have actively campaigned for candidates for federal office.
17% report connecting with a political campaign/group through a social networking site.
20% say they have shared videos on the Internet
9% have published their political views or blogged about politics on the Internet.

C-SPAN Viewer Demographics
The Hart survey found a C-SPAN audience equally divided between men and women and representing adults across all age groups. C-SPAN also attracts an ideologically diverse audience. Specifically:

43% are ages 18-49
32% are ages 50-64
25% are ages 65+

C-SPAN viewers hail from all parts of the United States:

25% live in the Northeast
23% live in the Midwest
32% live in the South
20% live in the West

Ideologically, 31% of C-SPAN viewers describe themselves as “liberal;” 28 percent say they are “conservative.”

What They Are Watching on C-SPAN, and Why

62% report watching C-SPAN’s Presidential election coverage
61% have watched C-SPAN’s Congressional coverage

Eighty-five percent of C-SPAN viewers call the network a “valuable resource.” And 59% of those who watch say they believe C-SPAN has” improved the way Americans view politics and current events.” When asked to describe the most valuable attribute of C-SPAN’s public affairs coverage, C-SPAN viewers cited these as the top three:

(1) balanced programming, both sides of issues presented, cited by 22%
(2) live coverage, chosen by 14% of viewers
(3) “coverage you can’t find elsewhere,” cited by 13% of respondents

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