Stations saw some gains in news viewing in 2011, according to the new State of the News Media study from Project For Excellence in Journalism (PEJ). ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates collectively showed 1.2% news viewing growth at 5-7 a.m. in 2011, 28.8% growth at 10-11 p.m., and a 2.9% increase for their lucrative 11-11:30 pm slot. The late news increase in 2011 was nevertheless down 10.1% from 2007 figures.
Early evening news viewing was down 1.7% at the ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates, while the 4:30-5 a.m. slot showed a whopping 394% increase in total news viewership in 2011.
Over at the Fox affiliates, the 5-7 a.m. block showed healthy 2.1% gains, and 5-7 p.m. news viewing was up 3.2%. The Fox stations' 10-11 p.m. hour was down 3.9%, but 11-11:30 p.m. was up 5%. Fox affiliates' 4:30 a.m. growth was a little more modest than their competition, up 189%.
By PEJ's count, the number of stations airing news at 4:30 a.m. doubled for the second year in a row, with 215 in 2011.
The local broadcasters booked $18.1 billion in 2011, according to BIA/Kelsey, down from 2010's $19.4 billion. "After years of losing audiences and revenue, local television news appears to have settled into a kind of equilibrium," said the report. "Stations made less income in 2011 than the year before, but the decline was about what might be expected in a non election year."
Besides political advertising being down last year, automotive ads were off 5% and restaurants down 6%. Softening those losses were ad increases from financial, up 21%, and auto dealers, plus 15.4%.
PEJ sees big revenue for stations in 2012, with as much as $2.6 billion spent in political monies, much of it from the Super PACs.