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Study Finds Rise in Early News Consumption

It probably won't come as any surprise to local news directors, but a new Ball State study found that viewers are increasingly tuning into early news.

But the researchers go further, suggesting that the change could signal "the end to the dominance of early evening newscasts."

A study of 101 people found that more watched news from 6 to 10 a.m. than at any other time of the day.

"These findings suggest a major shift from just a few decades ago when the evening news programs drew the majority of viewers," said study co-author Robert Papper.

Although the number of morning and evening newscast viewers was about the same, morning viewers watched for longer periods of time.

"I think early morning news is more popular because people have more time to watch it," said Papper in releasing the study. "They get up, flip on the television and get ready for work. Because Americans are working and commuting more than ever, they are getting home later. They may not be home for the early news because of work or family obligations."

He said local TV news directors may want to shift their local news later, say from 5 or 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., to catch the later commuters.

The study was conducted in July and August 2003 in Muncie and Delaware County, Ind., dubbed Middletown after sociological studies in the 1920s and ’30s that concluded it was the typical American town.”

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.