Where Are Those Evening News Viewers Going?

By Chris Ariens 

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As we’ve been telling you, the three network evening newscasts have seen viewership declines vs. the same period last year. And that erosion only seems to be growing

Looking at the week of Jan. 23, 2017 vs. the week of Jan. 25, 2016, ABC’s World News Tonight, the CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News had lost a combined -503,000 viewers. By the week of Feb. 13, 2017 (vs. Feb. 15, 2016), the loss had doubled to 1 million viewers. And by last week, that loss had tripled, to a combined -1.6 million viewers, from the same week last year.

So we wanted to know where those viewers are going during that 6pm ET hour, when the evening newscasts air in most markets in the Eastern and Central time zones.

Some may be going to the PBS NewsHour which is up +11 percent in viewership vs. the same period last year. Others may be heading to cable. The big gainer there is MSNBC’s For the Record with Greta Van Susteren which gained 217,000 viewers (+19 percent) and 43,000 demo viewers (+31 percent) vs. the same week last year. (Last year at this time, MSNBC was carrying a re-air of the Bloomberg show With All Due Respect, and Van Susteren was still hosting her show on FNC.)

Bret Baier‘s Special Report on Fox News, which has been the No. 1 cable news show in its timeslot for more than 8 years, has also seen year-over-year gains. Special Report added 247,000 viewers (up +10 percent) and grew by 57,000 demo viewers (up +13 percent). CNN’s Situation Room at 6pm was down -8 percent in viewers and up +4 percent in the A25-54 demo last week vs. the same week last year.

Given the intense interest in the all-politics, all-the-time coverage on cable, this may be a temporary dip for the network newscasts. But it is a trend worth watching.