According to Media Life Magazine, the three big network evening news broadcasts have slipped badly in the key 18 to 34 age bracket. At the same time, though, the Cable news nets have picked up among that same demographic. All three network newscasts have lost numbers since last year, with Katie Couric having the worst slide of the three.
According to Media Life, the main reason the evening news shows have been losing so steadily is because the Internet and Cable can give news at any time the viewer is ready to take their news whereas the evening news must be specifically scheduled into the viewer's lives. Media Life claims that the 18 to 34 age group just "never got into the evening news habit" -- a pretty plausible point.
The Internet is a big factor for this age group:
Much of it takes place on the internet. A recent Zogby poll found that 55 percent of 18-29s cite the internet as their primary news source... By the time 6:30 rolls around, they've gotten the story, and there's little Gibson or Williams or Couric have to add.
So what are the numbers? Here is what Media Life reported as the latest numbers through the beginning of March.
Season to date, the “CBS Evening News with Katie Couric” is down the most among 18-34s, off 21 percent from a 0.86 rating last year, to a 0.68, according to Nielsen data analyzed by Carat. In the same span, Couric has fallen 14.6 percent in 25-54s and 16 percent among 35-64s.
ABC’s “World News with Charles Gibson” has slipped 13.5 percent among 18-34s, from a 0.96 to a 0.83, while falling 5.6 percent with 25-54s and 3.3 percent with 35-64s.
NBC’s “Nightly News with Brian Williams” has dipped the least in 18-34s, where it also leads, off 10.1 percent, from a 1.09 to a 0.98. That’s compared to dips of 7.7 percent among 25-54s and 5 percent with 35-64s.
This is good news for those who would love to see TV network news gone the way of the dinosaurs. I'd say that once the Baby Boomers begin to fade into history, they will take the regular network news with them because the generations after the Boomers have little need or interest in the big three news outlets.
These falling ratings are really bad news for network news, though. They have no where to go but down unless they can figure a way to re-ignite viewership among younger viewers.