13 March 2013

Cable news viewership

The audience for partisan news is not as big as you might think.

What percentage of Americans watches cable news for 10 minutes or more per day?  Only about 10-15%, if you simply add up the audiences for Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC

This is based on calculations by political scientist Markus Prior, drawing on detailed data about what people actually watch and not what they report in a survey.  Survey reports of news consumption are often highly inaccurate.  Consider this comparison of a 2008 Pew survey to data on viewership from the Nielsen Company [above].

In the survey, almost a third of Americans believe they watch one of the three cable networks “regularly.”  It’s not quite clear what “regularly” means, of course.  This is one of the problems of using survey questions to measure media exposure.  But if we assume that a regular viewer should watch at least an hour per week, then in reality only about 6-7% of Americas meet that description.
Hmmm.  Now please someone compare those data with the number who watch "The Daily Show" at least an hour per week.

Image and text from The Monkey Cage, via The Dish.


  1. The latter would be me. The Daily Show is the only program I watch regularly, and pretty much the only TV I ever watch.

    1. Same here, only include the PBS Newshour as well.

  2. Same here, but have to count Colbert too. It's all I watch, literally.


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