Network News Viewership Drop, Explained


Network news viewership has been in decline for some time. After a long hiatus, a recent chance viewing of live news has convinced me the problem is the ads. Nearly non-stop ads for prescription medicines and their nauseating lists of side effects will certainly deter me from putting on the news again for some time to come.

The Full Scoop

Network news, especially evening news, has been on a long, steady decline. Many people blame the increase in the number of channels, the internet as a customized, immediate news source, and the rise in comedy news roundups. While I think all of these factors are contributing, I think another significant factor is the advertisements: wall-to-wall ads for prescription drugs, with the FDA-required listing of offensive and sometimes stomach-turning side-effects.

Evening news is not well suited to playback on a DVR. By the time you get around to watching it, it is several hours old. Anyone with an internet connection (and is anyone without an internet connection these days?) can get news on-demand from numerous sources, and read just the topics of interest. Watching it live is the only way to watch

One of the problems watching broadcast TV live is the commercials. It has been a while since I watched live TV, especially network news. I remember when HFCS-laden grocery items, cars, and fast-food dominated the ads for broadcast TV. On the night I watched recently, this mix seems to have given way to nearly total domination of prescription drug ads. On the face of it this sounds benign, until you remember hat FDA guidelines require that side effects be fully spelled out in prescription ads. Combine this with the fact that evening news is on at dinner hour in many parts of the country and you have a recipe for viewership disaster. Does anyone want to hear about "increased burping" while trying to have a pleasant meal? And that is tame compared to many announced side effects.

The next time you hear about a drop in network news viewership, blame not the news itself. Blame the offensive, unappetizing prescription drug ads.

Last modified on 9 Jun 2010 by AO

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