TV News Viewership is Changing Dramatically

BY Rachel Cagle
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When you picture consumers who watch the news on their TVs, the older generations probably are the first that come to mind. After all, they grew up getting their news through traditional advertising methods. Younger generations have had digital means of keeping updated with the news for most, if not all, of their lives. Both of those observations are true. However, a study by Nielsen reveals that TV news audiences are not only getting younger, but more diverse as well.

TV News Consumption


It’s common knowledge that traditional forms of advertising were beginning to struggle before the COVID-​19 pandemic hit. Now, TV viewership is skyrocketing, especially for TV news programs, thanks to social distancing and social and political issues running rampant.

For example, last year, the weekly time American consumers spent watching TV news was around five hours and 40 minutes. When the first pieces of news about COVID-​19 hit the air in January 2020, weekly viewership began to dramatically rise. And when the COVID-​19 shutdowns and quarantine began in March, weekly TV news consumption spiked at around 10 hours per week. Between April and May, as people began adjusting to the new normal, weekly TV news consumption shrank back down to about eight hours per week. Then the Black Lives Matter movement protests began again in May, raising news consumption again.

As of September, weekly TV news consumption per U.S. adult has lowered back to seven hours and five minutes. This is still an increase of more than an hour since this time last year. Also, with the election results pouring in, we can expect viewership to rise again.

With so much in flux this year, news will remain a staple in consumers’ ever-​expanding media diets,” writes Nielsen. “However, with so many options available, individual news outlets will need to continue providing information relevant for their audiences to maintain and grow audiences.”

Who is Watching?

The news engagement over the past year has shattered any residual stereotyping that the news only appeals to older boomers and members of the Greatest Generation,” says Nielsen. “While consumers 55 and older do watch the most news, younger generations are driving the growth of news consumption.”

In the second quarter of 2020, the average weekly time consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 spent watching TV news increased 134% from Q2 2019. This age group is now watching an average of two hours and 11 minutes every week, as compared to just 56 minutes last year. Additionally, Asian, Hispanic, and Black consumers all dramatically increased their TV news consumption by 86%, 66% and 58%, respectively, year-over-year.

Reaching These Consumers

If your client’s TV news advertising strategy has been limited to targeting baby boomers and older generations, it’s time they adjusted their strategy. Look up your client’s target audience’s profile on AudienceSCAN on AdMall by SalesFuel to find out when they’re consuming the most TV news. For example, the highest percentage of Video Gamers watch the local evening news between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.