Presidential Race Drives Ratings Surge for Cable News

Presidential Race Cable News Donald Trump
AP Photo/Alan Diaz

Cable and network TV news saw revenue increases in 2015, thanks to the presidential campaign, but still face serious threats to their business model, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center.

The report, issued Wednesday, cited a surge in viewership at CNN, where evening ratings climbed 38% compared to 2014. Overall, the cable news industry saw a 10% increase in revenue from advertising and subscribers.

Network news also saw encouraging signs, especially as the presidential campaign drove ratings at the three Sunday morning talk shows. Ratings for ABC’s “This Week,” NBC’s “Meet the Press” and CBS’ “Face the Nation” were up 8% from 2014. The evening newscasts were a mixed bag, with NBC posting a 4% decline with the loss of anchor Brian Williams. CBS and ABC both saw 4% increases for their evening newscasts.

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The report also highlighted dismal news for newspapers, with print publications shedding 7% of their circulation in 2015, the worst year since 2010.

While digital news has already decimated newspapers, Pew warned that the same fate could be in store for TV news.

“With audience challenges already in view and few immediate financial incentives to innovate, the dilemma facing the TV news business bears an eerie resemblance to the one faced by the newspaper industry a decade ago, except for the fact that the digital realm is much more developed and defined today,” the report concluded.

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