Abstract Musings

Documenting the random thoughts of a cluttered mind

End of the Road for the Nightly News?

Could the days of evening network news broadcasts be numbered? Outside The Beltway points to an article in the Miami Herald which makes a compelling case for the eventual demise of the nightly news.

You don’t need to read tea leaves to see which way things might tip, just numbers. When Dan Rather took over as anchor of CBS Evening News in 1981, 69 percent of the television audience tuned in to the networks’ nightly broadcasts. When he leaves next year, the networks’ share of viewers will be less than 38 percent. The decline gets sharper all the time; for the week of Nov. 15, the network news audience was down 5 percent from last year.

The average age of viewers who remain – over 56, according to Nielsen Media Research – suggests that ratings will continue to decline as the audience literally dies out. And even before that, advertisers – who seek viewers in the 18-to-49 age bracket – will flee.

Personally, neither my wife nor I watch the network evening news broadcasts. If I am going to watch the news on television, I usually watch the FOX News Channel, but even that is a rare occasion. My parents and in-laws do watch the nightly news, which fits in with the part of the article I quoted above. Most of the time I get my news via the internet. I read the RSS/ATOM feeds of the big newspapers and follow links to other news stories on the blogs I read.

My wife and I were recently wondering why FOX didn’t have a nightly news broadcast on its local affiliates. I guess the executives at FOX can see the writing on the wall and have chosen not to waste the effort.