News Viewing 55-Plus: The Need to Know

older couple watching TV on the news
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Your neighborhood, your city, your country — the need to know what’s going on at any given time is inextricably connected to our survival and even, one could argue, our very humanity. That critical need to be informed has given rise to a myriad of ways in which information — specifically, what is generically called “the news” — can be accessed and consumed. From robust social-media offerings to a spider web of ways to view television, both on a big screen and on our personal devices, we can now literally watch news wherever we go.

Sue Tremblay of Nielsen

Sue Tremblay

And we do. Looking at overall viewing, news continues to hold the top spot in viewing categories. In this category, people 25-34 watch more news than any other program genre, accounting for 11% of viewing share, and people 35-54 account for an impressive 15% share [1]. But the real winner in news viewing is the 55-64 demo which, while smaller in range of years, accounts for more viewership share than each of the other two groups with a 16% share [2]. The devotion to news viewership among adults 55-64 should be underscored — and valued for their loyalty.

Also: Nielsen Executive Shows Support For Expanding Age Demo to 25-64

Not only do older adults watch the most news, but the 55-64 demo brings an overall lift to impressions. By aggregating the 55-64 demo with the 24-54 key demo, total impressions from all sources — broadcast, cable, All Other Tuning (AOT [3]) and nontraditional viewing sources (non-households using television, or HUT [4] ) — increased by an impressive 56.5% in April 2022 [5] (up from an also impressive lift of 54.9% in April 2021). 

The way we view continues to evolve: Households viewing from non-HUT sources grew 8% on a year-over-year basis, with a disproportionate amount of that change coming from people 25-34, who shifted their viewing to non-HUT sources by 10%. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the reliable 55-64 news viewers switched to non-HUT sources the least, at 6% [6]. Importantly, let’s not forget that this 55-64 demo generally holds more net worth and has more discretionary income than the younger demos. ICYMI, check out this piece on the buying power of 55-64. 

And consider brand loyalty: Common guidance is that the battle of the brands is fought in the early years, making the younger demos the sought-after consumer. But current Nielsen studies show that the 55-64 demo, in addition to being the leading consumer of news, is also open to trying new brands. Looking at the sum of incremented, consecutive brand purchases [7], there is very little difference between repeat brand purchases among 55-64 compared to other younger groups. All groups are declining in this metric, and therefore open to new brands within a category. [8]

Digging deeper into an example of brand loyalty in a specific and ultra-important category — automotive — data shows that people 55-64 are more likely to own multiple brands of vehicles —- high-end, luxury, etc. The list goes on and just gets even more impressive. [9]

As we think and plan for the future of news and monetizing the news audience, the expanded demo of 25-64 illustrates a trusted, reliable, profitable part of the equation. Yes, the world will still turn, people will find new ways to stay informed, but the 55-64 demo will continue to robustly watch and spend. And the data has shown that they have the resources to do just that. ▪️

  1. Nielsen, NLTV, viewing by genre, April 2022.
  2. Nielsen: NLTV, viewing by genre, April 2022.
  3. AOT - All Other Tuning: Content that cannot be identified by codes or matching audio signatures; therefore, cannot be assigned to a final distributor (and thus a station code). In order for content to be considered the unencoded/unmatched content must originate from a HUT (households using television) device such as a TV or set-top box. 2022 Nielsen Local Reference Supplement.
  4. Non-HUT: Not a Household Using Television source — Alternate ways of viewing TV, memory stick, camera or portable/handheld game, as defined by HUT. 2022 Nielsen Local Reference Supplement.
  5. Nielsen: NPower: Live-plus-same day, total day % of share by total use of television, April 2021 vs. April 2022.
  6. Nielsen: NPower, Live-plus-same day, total day impressions, April 2022.
  7. Nielsen Catalina Solutions: Brand Loyalty August 2018-July 2021.
  8. Nielsen Catalina Solutions: Brand Loyalty August 2018-July 2021.
  9. Scarborough USA Plus, 2021 Release 2: “Likelihood to own another car brand vs U.S. Adult.” 
Sue Tremblay

Sue Tremblay is senior VP, sales director at Nielsen.