It’s no secret that the way people consume news and information is going through a major transformation. The collective shift away from TV as a main source for news has now entered the fast lane, and is rapidly accelerating. According to an August 2017 Pew Research Center study, the gap between television and online news consumption has significantly narrowed since just last year. In August 2016, there was still a healthy 19-point gap between TV and online news sources, with TV news holding a solid lead. This year, the gap narrowed to just 7 points, with online news steadily growing. Despite what some national radio conglomerates may tell you, radio growth is flat, and print is down to just 18 percent.
When you look at the demographics, the shift is even more pronounced. Online news is on the rise across all age categories. The biggest gains are in the 65+ age group, with a 10 percent jump in online sources, while TV news is declining— with a 10 percent drop in viewership among people aged 30–49.
At this pace, online news will soon overtake TV news as a main source for information. This comes as no surprise. We’ve seen news outlets completely change the way they present information, with increasing emphasis on digital and social media content. Organizations have learned that traditional news coverage is giving way to the Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned (PESO) approach to digital marketing content. The sweet spot is strategically leveraging all of those elements to tell your own stories in order to generate maximum reach and ultimately, awareness. When that content gets shared and goes viral, the Digital Marketing Trifecta transcends the one off front-page or TV lead news story, spanning the globe in seconds.
So what does this mean for TV news? No doubt, more resources will continue to be devoted to online and social. How to monetize online platforms to make them as lucrative as TV news advertisements remains to be seen.
News outlets are not alone in the dilemma. NFL ratings have dropped 12 percent year over year on opening weekend, and were down 15 percent in week two of the season. If the trend continues, some industry analysts say the result could be a significant cut in network earnings. And Wall Street has already taken notice. Since the season opener, stock market shares have taken a hit for most of the major TV networks.
While many factors are playing into the overall TV viewership drop, one thing is certain. In the game of TV vs. online news consumption, online is on a path to become the undisputed champ.
By Charla Kucko