Commentary

Is Traditional TV News Still Winning Young Viewers?

Young TV news viewership continues to grow in importance as traditional TV platforms amp up their content efforts. But do these viewers need more of a push, marketing-wise?

CBS is launching CBSN Local -- a locally based news streaming service building on CBS’ CBSN, its 24-hour national TV new streaming series. CBSN will be available through CBSN on CBSNews.com, the CBS News apps,and through CBS TV websites and mobile apps.

Young news viewers are here: CBS says nearly 80% of CBSN’s viewers are between 18 and 49 with an average age of 38 -- much lower than via its traditional TV network and stations. 

That said, overall research has shown that even without specific targeted marketing efforts, traditional TV content on digital media platforms sees dramatic declines in the average age versus legacy TV platforms.

Others TV station groups have more specific efforts.

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For example, Tegna has been making a push among a number of its TV stations with news content adjusted to young TV viewers' behaviors -- binge-viewing. That means finding “episodic” content, especially investigative content, per Ellen Crooke, vice president-news at Tegna, via TV NewsCheck.

Some examples of Tegna TV news stories include heroin use in some of the wealthiest suburbs of Atlanta, changing laws helping veterans poised to lose benefits, and child sex trafficking.

High-profile content is only one piece, however. Tegna is going to social media -- Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and SnapChat -- because that’s where young audiences hang out.

Much of this isn’t new. Many TV networks and TV station groups have been mining social media for viewers through promotions and sponsored content. Will they convert those digital new consumers to traditional TV news programming watchers?

Perhaps a big brand name helps.

Viceland -- the TV channel co-owned by Vice Media and A+E Networks, starting in February 2016 -- established a brand identified, in some degree, for young news consumers. The network was born out of the “Vice” TV show on HBO.

In July, Viceland averaged a Nielsen 90,000 viewers in prime time -- good for 81st place among all cable networks. In May, Viceland said ratings improved 26% for 18-49 viewers year-over-year. For all of 2017, Viceland averaged 107,000 prime-time viewers.

For traditional TV stations and networks, the job is harder. Apart from these efforts, do young TV news consumers need -- or want -- to consume news content from traditional TV news producers?

1 comment about "Is Traditional TV News Still Winning Young Viewers?".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, August 3, 2018 at 10:04 a.m.

    Of course digital audiences to most types of content are younger that those attained via traditional media platforms---TV, radio, print----and this is evident in all of the comparisone whether it be the CBS website vs. the CBS TV network or any magazine looked at both ways. The real question is not whether CBS can reach younger than TV news viewers by going digital but how many and will the  digital ads will be visible and effective.

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