News Consumption Went Down In 2021, Will It Recover For 2022 Midterms?

TV and media interest in news content this year -- with the coming of the midterm elections -- should see a spike in consumption, if history is any guide.

But what if TV news consumers are just tired of all the super hyped-up content -- Covid, politics, the U.S. Capitol insurrection, and one former President’s current and past questionable/legal actions -- of the past 20 months or so?

A current poll via news site Axios shows 65% fewer social-media interactions with news articles in 2021; 33% fewer downloads of news apps; and 36% less cable TV news viewers.

Looking more granularly, Axios noted specific hyper-partisan and political publishers took a bigger hit last year -- one where mainstream news publishers did better.

The off political years traditionally yield lower interest in news content. So coming off of a tumultuous 2020 presidential election year, the following year performed as predicted.



But we have also had a long period of pandemic news, where U.S. consumers craved information about how to deal with Covid: masking, social distancing, working and school situations, and daycare for young children.

Though we have trends to show things will improve for news content consumption, why does malaise and disengagement continue in some areas?

For example, Covid cases are now at their highest levels ever. But 24/7 cable TV news network viewership hasn’t climbed, as well. In past Covid spikes, there were associated TV news spikes, according to recent data from Samba TV. TV news viewership grew sharply with the 2021 Covid spikes in January and then again in September of that year.

It’s not just weariness of Covid news, but political exhaustion. The onslaught of political news in 2020 -- and for most of 2021 -- might be taking its toll. Some of this might be revealed in election turnout in state primaries through the year and in November 2022.

This isn’t to say some event might tweak consumers' returning interest in news consumption -- say a dramatic weather event we have seen in the past years or a major cyber-hack affecting millions of Americans.

Until then, TV Watch will stay tuned in -- even with the boring stuff.

1 comment about "News Consumption Went Down In 2021, Will It Recover For 2022 Midterms?".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, January 10, 2022 at 9:59 a.m.

    Wayne, TV "news" viewing declined from an artificial high in 2020 to more normal levels in mid- late-2021 and, will, no doubt, rise again to temporary highs if we have more of the kind of turmoil that Trump and his  supporters and opponents gave us in 2020 and the early part of 2021. The real question is whether over coverage of the pandemic will start to turn news viewers---mainly oldsters---- off and cause them to increase their already heavy consumption of their favorite talk,  small claims court, reality and game shows as well as the broadcast networks' prime time cop and medical drama shows instead.

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