Network TV news – appointment viewing for many Americans – saw some audience changes across networks in recent years. Financially, advertiser expenditures for the news programs of the three major networks (ABC, CBS and NBC) have decreased substantially since 2020. Explore the patterns and longitudinal data about network TV news below.

Audience

The average audience for the evening newscasts of ABC, CBS and NBC remained relatively stable for all three networks, according to Comscore TV Essentials® data. (Average audience is defined as the average number of TVs tuned to a program throughout a time period.)

ABC evening news viewership remained above 7 million, with 7.4 million viewers in 2021 and 7.6 million viewers in 2022. NBC viewership remained at just over 6.5 million, and CBS viewership remained at just below 5 million for both years.


Average audience for network TV evening news

Average number of TVs tuning to news programming during the evening news time slot for ABC, CBS and NBC

Year A B C CBS NBC
2016 5,813,222 4,596,432 6,410,188
2017 5,536,390 4,358,523 5,710,815
2018 5,890,552 4,409,091 5,675,755
2019 6,548,385 4,654,994 6,049,195
2020 7,602,068 4,988,509 6,514,935
2021 7,350,879 4,723,368 6,575,869
2022 7,630,013 4,814,687 6,734,576

Note: Numbers represent ABC, CBS and NBC for the full year and include live viewership only. “Average audience” is the average number of TVs tuned to an entity throughout the selected time frame. It is calculated by dividing the total hours viewed by the length of the time frame (in hours). “National news” is defined as any telecast that has been flagged by Comscore (either by notification from clients or from standard processes) as being a news-based program airing at approximately the same time across a majority of markets. The evening news time slot is defined as early fringe by Comscore and includes newscasts that air from 4 to 7 pm for national programs and for stations in Eastern/Pacific time zones, or 3 to 6 pm for stations in other time zones.

Source: Comscore TV Essentials®, 2016-2022, US

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Average audiences for morning news programs from ABC, CBS and NBC were stable between 2021 and 2022 but overall have declined since 2020. Between 2020 and 2022, morning news viewership decreased by 11% for NBC, 9% for ABC and 8% for CBS.


Average audience for network TV morning news

Average number of TVs tuning to news programming during the morning news time slot for ABC, CBS and NBC

Year A B C CBS NBC
2016 4,062,545 2,808,619 4,203,195
2017 3,746,812 2,508,428 3,733,882
2018 3,550,509 2,525,172 3,470,645
2019 3,972,619 2,808,247 3,790,884
2020 4,099,736 2,677,299 3,915,972
2021 3,684,409 2,500,136 3,534,915
2022 3,728,060 2,463,803 3,498,810

Note: Numbers represent ABC, CBS and NBC for the full year and include live viewership only. “Average audience” is the average number of TVs tuned to an entity throughout the selected time frame. It is calculated by dividing the total hours viewed by the length of the time frame (in hours). “National news” is defined as any telecast that has been flagged by Comscore (either by notification from clients or from standard processes) as being a news-based program airing at approximately the same time across a majority of markets. The morning news time slot includes newscasts that air from 6 to 9 am for national programs and for stations in Eastern/Pacific time zones, or 5 to 8 am for stations in other time zones.

Source: Comscore TV Essentials®, 2016-2022, US

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Average audiences for the network TV Sunday morning political talk shows on ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC – This Week, Face the Nation, Fox News Sunday and Meet the Press, respectively – mostly remained stable between 2021 and 2022, with a slight increase (5%) in viewership for CBS.


Average audience for network TV Sunday morning political talk shows

Average number of TVs tuning into Sunday morning political talk show news programming for ABC’s This Week, CBS’s Face the Nation, Fox News Sunday and NBC’s Meet the Press

Year A B C CBS NBC FOX
2016 2,770,106 2,810,479 3,061,651 1,438,119
2017 2,799,806 2,759,082 2,933,945 1,423,701
2018 2,598,738 2,606,905 2,729,710 1,201,244
2019 2,779,216 2,874,826 2,701,887 1,315,003
2020 3,388,223 3,425,060 3,205,054 1,618,505
2021 3,059,629 3,186,318 2,771,778 1,326,215
2022 3,101,353 3,338,791 2,657,181 1,320,177

Note: Numbers represent ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC for the full year and include live viewership only. “Average audience” is the average number of TVs tuned to an entity throughout the selected time frame. It is calculated by dividing the total hours viewed by the length of the time frame (in hours). “National news” is defined as any telecast that has been flagged by Comscore (either by notification from clients or from standard processes) as being a news-based program airing at approximately the same time across a majority of markets. Sunday morning political talk shows include ABC’s This Week, CBS’s Face the Nation, Fox News Sunday and NBC’s Meet the Press.

Source: Comscore TV Essentials®, 2016-2022, US

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The average audience for the four newsmagazine shows aired by the networks – ABC’s 20/20, CBS’s 60 Minutes and 48 Hours, and NBC’s Dateline – increased in 2022, following declines in 2021. (Since the average audience data from Comscore is not broken out by news programs, the CBS figures below represents the average audience for 48 Hours and 60 Minutes combined.)


Average audience for network TV news magazines

Average number of TVs tuning to newsmagazine programming for ABC’s 20/20, CBS’s 48 Hours and 60 Minutes, and NBC’s Dateline

Year A B C CBS NBC
2016 3,779,392 3,801,244 4,135,374
2017 3,184,348 3,425,905 3,629,091
2018 2,756,423 3,413,762 3,312,640
2019 3,326,854 3,460,583 3,351,224
2020 3,587,289 3,866,151 3,704,042
2021 3,518,503 3,523,486 3,396,664
2022 3,784,716 3,865,636 3,499,448

Note: Numbers represent ABC, CBS and NBC for the full year and include live viewership only. “Average audience” is the average number of TVs tuned to an entity throughout the selected time frame. It is calculated by dividing the total hours viewed by the length of the time frame (in hours). “National news” is defined as any telecast that has been flagged by Comscore (either by notification from clients or from standard processes) as being a news-based program airing at approximately the same time across a majority of markets. Newsmagazine network shows include ABC’s 20/20, CBS’s 48 Hours and 60 Minutes, and NBC’s Dateline.

Source: Comscore TV Essentials®, 2016-2022, US

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Economics

Advertiser expenditures for the evening broadcast news programs ABC’s World News Tonight and NBC Nightly News each fell in 2022, according to estimates from Vivvix. ABC sees a 24% decline in 2022. NBC sees a 16% decline in 2022 after a 20% decline in 2021. And CBS Evening News sees an 11% increase in 2022 following a 19% decline in 2021. (This data reflects Vivvix’s estimates of the amount of money paid by advertisers, rather than the amount of revenue actually earned by networks.)


Advertiser expenditures for evening network news

Gross advertiser expenditures for network TV evening news programs (in US dollars)

Year ABC (previous) CBS (previous) NBC (previous) A B C CBS NBC
2013 $147,880,200 $136,484,800 $169,843,000
2014 $163,939,200 $137,335,100 $164,780,600
2015 $184,250,200 $145,433,700 $170,608,800
2016 $210,640,400 $152,627,100 $182,954,600
2017 $204,994,200 $164,384,000 $182,991,300
2018 $158,795,700 $110,398,200 $147,886,600
2019 $164,049,800 $123,681,600 $157,175,600
2020 $200,894,800 $133,286,600 $169,800,500
2021 $194,018,400 $108,478,300 $135,200,300
2022 $147,563,400 $120,139,000 $113,765,500

Note: Gaps indicate a change in methodology. The methodology for this analysis changed in 2018, while data for previous years remained unchanged. As such, no comparison should be drawn between 2018-22 and any previous year. The above figures only include Monday through Friday telecasts of ABC’s World News Tonight, CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News. These figures reflect total payments by advertisers for purchase of commercial time. A proportion of these payments are paid as commissions or fees to media buyers, and the balance is recognized by the network as revenue.

Source: Vivvix, an advertising intelligence provider.

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The three networks’ advertiser expenditures for the morning news programs has decreased substantially since 2020. NBC has seen the most significant decline in advertiser expenditures, with a 43% decrease in spending since 2020. CBS saw a 32% decrease, and spending for ABC declined by 25% between 2020 and 2022.


Advertiser expenditures for morning network news

Gross advertiser expenditures for network TV morning news programs (in US dollars)

Year ABC (previous) CBS (previous) NBC (previous) A B C CBS NBC
2013 $350,200,300 $145,970,000 $495,644,200
2014 $362,893,800 $162,087,700 $435,339,800
2015 $405,476,800 $163,038,500 $503,711,000
2016 $401,925,500 $177,018,100 $508,753,200
2017 $359,134,000 $211,695,600 $517,199,300
2018 $291,250,900 $164,507,800 $320,624,000
2019 $288,718,900 $184,658,800 $343,418,300
2020 $293,602,100 $185,381,100 $357,631,500
2021 $280,992,600 $149,985,900 $298,266,100
2022 $220,973,300 $126,044,700 $204,806,700

Note: Gaps indicate a change in methodology. The methodology for this analysis changed in 2018, while data for previous years remained unchanged. As such, no comparison should be drawn between 2018-22 and any previous year. The above figures only include Monday through Friday telecasts of ABC’s Good Morning America, CBS This Morning and NBC’s Today. These figures reflect total payments by advertisers for purchase of commercial time. A proportion of these payments are paid as commissions or fees to media buyers, and the balance is recognized by the network as revenue.

Source: Vivvix, an advertising intelligence provider.

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Find out more

This fact sheet was compiled by Research Assistant Sarah Naseer and Senior Researcher Elisa Shearer.

Read the methodology.

Pew Research Center is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts, its primary funder. This is the latest analysis in Pew Research Center’s ongoing investigation of the state of news, information and journalism in the digital age, a research program funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, with generous support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Find more in-depth explorations of network news by following the links below:

  • Broad agreement in US – even among partisans – on which news outlets are part of the ‘mainstream media’, May 7, 2021
  • How Americans Navigated the News in 2020: A Tumultuous Year in Review, Feb. 22, 2021
  • Many Americans are elements of whether sources of news do their own reporting, Dec. 8, 2020
  • Americans Paid Close Attention as Election Returns Came In, Nov. 23, 2020
  • Coronavirus-Driven Downturn Hits Newspapers Hard as TV News Thrives, Oct. 29, 2020
  • Americans’ main sources for political news vary by party and age, April 1, 2020
  • US Media Polarization and the 2020 Election: A Nation Divided, Jan. 24, 2020