National TV News Viewing Beat Sports In 2017

In 2017, national TV news viewing grew by mid-single digit percentage gains with national TV sports viewing down by comparably the same percentage level.

Pivotal Research Group says TV news media viewing was up 6% year-over-year in 2017 in total hours of viewing on a live program-plus-same day time-shifted basis, which Brian Wieser, senior research analyst, says represented “an uncommon uptick for the genre following an election year.”

Without the Summer Olympics period in 2016, sports viewing was down by the same amount of 6%. Overall TV sports viewing sank 12% in 2017 versus 2016.

The big three cable news networks grew 15% in 2017 versus 2016, with MSNBC rocketing up 49%. Cable news network leader Fox News Channel added 8% and CNN grew 4%. News programming on the big three broadcast networks was down 7%.

All football programming was also down 7% in total hours viewing, despite a slight increase of 1% in programming hours.

In 2017, NFL slipped 8% in TV viewing, while college football was flat. All football programming had the highest share of sports viewing in 2017: 42%.

All basketball programming slipped 1% in viewing, on 2% more programming hours during the year. The NBA was down 10% in TV viewing and college basketball was up 11%. Basketball maintained a 15% share of all sports viewing last year.



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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, January 4, 2018 at 11:10 a.m.

    Wayne, as we report in our upcoming annual, "TV Dimensions 2018", and for many past years, the average American adult has always devoted more time to TV news content than to sports for one simple reason----there's much more news content---especially if you count the networks' early AM and weekend political interview shows, the hosts of 24/7 cable "news channels", local station programming, late night filler coverage, PBS fare, etc. Every once in a while a special sporting event such as the Olympics or the Super Bowl temporarily narrows the gap, but on the whole, across all dayparts and network or channel types, we spend roughly twice as much time with news than with sports.

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