The Decline of Cable News

June 1, 2012

cable news, multisource news


The audiences for CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC are declining. Jack Shafer points out in a Reuters article that CNN recently attracted its smallest prime-time audience since September 1991.

The outlook for cable news outlets becomes even bleaker when you consider that there are fewer people signing up for new cable accounts. Today, if a person is calling a cable company, it’s usually to cancel their cable, not to sign up for new service.

Shafer explains: “Upwards of 90 percent of U.S. households already subscribe to cable or satellite TV, and most carry the news channels, so there are very few eyeballs out there that would like to tune in to CNN, Fox News and MSNBC but can’t.”

Another problem for cable news networks is that there is only so much news in a day and it gets rehashed. Viewers flock to the channels when there is huge news such as the tsunami in Japan and tune out in when the news has passed.

Compounding the problem for cable news networks is that when big news breaks, people increasingly are going to their PC's and mobile devices. A 2012 Pew Study found that 27% of Americans say they get news on their smartphones or tablets.

TVNewser’s Al Weprin writes that with the rise of the blogosphere, there is less of a need to tune in to cable news unless something is happening at that moment. With online video now pervasive, any big interview will be on websites moments after it appears on TV.

In addition to the fact that there doesn’t seem to be enough news for three news networks, there’s also the fact that some of the programming for these cable news networks has turned into little more than propaganda for the left or the right. It seems that viewers have become less enchanted with "agenda-based" news - as evidenced by Fox News' declining viewership recently.

If people want varying points of view in news, they don't need to watch various cable news networks. They can simply visit different websites ... or visit Newsy of course!