Competitive Media

Highlights from the Pew Research Center's Report: The State of the News Media 2011

The state of the U.S. news media improved in 2010, at least in comparison with a dismal 2009. Americans are spending more time with news than ever before and all sectors, except newspapers, saw ad revenues increase.

Americans' increased engagement with news is being driven by the Internet; every news platform saw audiences either stall or decline – except for the web.

  • In December 2010, 41% of Americans cited the Internet as the place where they got "most of their news about national and international issues," up 17% from a year earlier.
  • For the first time, more people said they got news from the web than from newspapers. The Internet now trails only television among American adults as a destination for news.
  • The audience for cable news in the last year declined substantially (13.7% across the entire day, 16% in prime time), in addition to the long-running declines in local TV, network TV, newspapers and magazines.

The pace of digital change continues to accelerate. Mobile has already become an important factor in news. Nearly half of all Americans (47%) now get some form of local news on a mobile device.

  • The move to mobile is likely to grow precipitously. By January 2011, 7% of Americans reported owning some kind of electronic tablet. That was nearly double the number just four months earlier.

NPR bucks the trend of declining audience for broadcasters, flourishing as commercial all-news radio programming has become scarcer. NPR's audience grew 3% in 2010 to 27.2 million a week. That is up 58% since 2000.

  • In contrast, CNN's median prime-time viewership dropped 37%. HLN, CNN's sibling channel, dipped 17%. Fox viewership fell 11%. And, MSNBC, which fared least badly, experienced a viewership decline of 5%.

Traditional AM and FM radio still dominates the audio landscape, and for the last decade it has been among the most stable traditional media.

  • In all, 93% of Americans listened to AM/FM radio at some point during the week in 2010, according to data from Arbitron, and this has dropped only three percentage points in the last decade.
  • The biggest change in radio listening may be just ahead. A good deal of radio listening occurs in cars, and we are on the brink of Internet radio being widely available there for the first time. More than quarter of Americans (27%) said they were "very interested" in online radio in the car in 2010 — up 17% from 2009.
  • Traditional radio regained its financial footing in 2010 — revenue grew 6%, after a drop of 18% in '09.

Online ad revenue in 2010 is projected to surpass print newspaper ad revenue for the first time.

  • Online advertising overall grew 13.9% to $25.8 billion in 2010, while the mobile part of that grew 79% in 2010 to $743 million.
  • Much of this online ad spending, 48%, is search advertising, while banner ads, where news organizations currently get most of their online ad revenue, make up less than half that (23%).
  • Text messaging is currently the primary form of mobile advertising, but most analysts expect that by 2012 display will take the lead. It is already the second biggest category in mobile, ahead of search. There was $202 million spent on mobile display ads in 2010, up 122% from a year before.

Links to graphs regarding ad revenue:

Source: Pew Research Center , "The State of the News Media 2011", Published March 2011. See: http://stateofthemedia.org/


Susan Leland is the research manager for corporate sponsorship and development.

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