Study: Network News Viewers at All-Time Low; Half Under Age 30 Never Watch News

Barbara Boland | January 10, 2014 | 2:02pm EST
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NBC Nightly News Anchor Brian Williams (AP Photo)

( - Network news viewers are declining in unprecedented rates, from an average of 48 million nightly network news viewers in 1985 to 24.5 million in 2013, according to Pew Research analysis of Nielsen Media Research data.

Young people aged 18-29 are the least likely to watch network news regularly (only 11 percent did so in 2012), and 49 percent of people in this age group say they never watch the news.

In the survey, only 15 percent of people under 30 could identify NBC Nightly News Anchor Brian Williams.

In news consumption surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center, the share of Americans who regularly watch a nightly network news program – ABC, CBS, and NBC – has declined from 60 percent in 1993 (the earliest available measure) to just 27 percent in 2012.

In a similar study by Times Mirror/Gallup in July 1985, 47 percent of Americans of all ages could identify Dan Rather, anchor of CBS Evening News. Today, seven in 10 (53 percent) could not identify the picture of Brian Williams, and 18 percent named someone else (two percent thought it was a picture of Vice President Joe Biden.)

Americans aged 65 and older are still the largest segment of nightly news viewers, but their viewership has declined dramatically since 1993 “from 75% down to 40% in 2012,” the Pew study said.

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