Pew: Top Cable News Networks See 55% Audience Boost

Top-tier cable news channels in 2016 collectively saw a 55% increase in viewership over the year before, according to a just-released annual analysis by Pew Research Center.

Fox News, CNN and MSNBC recorded that 55% gain to a combined average of 4.8 million viewers. Pew said that audience data for the major business nets—CNBC, Fox Business and Bloomberg—were not available.

That boost is not a big surprise given that it was a presidential election year like none other, with a candidate and now President to match. The Donald Trump story dominated cable news channels and still does. 

Also not surprisingly, that increase in audience has translated to a 19% increase in total revenue across the channels to almost $5 billion, which includes both advertising and license fees. CNBC, Fox Business and Bloomberg saw increases in license fee revenue, said Pew, but ad revenue was essentially flat. 

According to SNL Kagan projections cited by Pew, those three planned a combined newsroom investment increase of 9% to $2.1 billion.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.