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Despite Election, Network News Audience Shrinks

Friday, 21 Nov 2008 03:04 PM

By Jim Meyers

Media coverage of the presidential race heated up as Election Day neared, but the overall audience of network evening newscasts actually decreased in the last months of the campaign.

The three major network newscasts were down 280,000 viewers since Sept. 22 compared with the same period last year.

ABC’s “World News” slipped 2 percent to 8.2 million viewers, and “CBS Evening News” fell 3 percent to 6.1 million viewers. “NBC Nightly News” saw a slight increase, up 1 percent to 8.37 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research data reported by the Los Angeles Times.

On the other hand, the cable news networks saw a sharp increase in viewers during the race, more than doubling their prime-time audiences this fall.

The drop in viewership for the network evening newscasts “at a time when viewers were aggressively seeking news speaks to the challenge the programs face in a landscape increasingly cluttered with media choices,” the Times observed.

“Once the country’s dominant news platforms, the three flagship network newscasts found themselves jockeying this season with cable channels and Internet sites to deliver the freshest political updates.”

Since 1991, the combined audience of the three networks has dropped from 36.7 million to 22.7 million.

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