Cable TV is Powering a Big Increase in News Consumption – By  Alexandra Bruell April 3, 2017 12:01 a.m. ET

Despite boost in news consumption, overall TV consumption continues to decline

Photo: Getty Images

Each of the major cable news channels — CNN, Fox News and MSNBC — bragged about their audience gains during the 2016 presidential election cycle. Across the board, just how much more cable news did Americans watch?

According to a new Nielsen report, adults over 18 watched 27.1 billion minutes of cable news in 2016, a 44% spike over the 18.8 billion minutes in 2015. That jump was largely responsible for an 18% overall increase in news consumption across all media, including broadcast news, radio and smartphone news.

Adult news consumers spent nearly 6.5 hours a week watching national cable TV news in 2016 — up nearly an hour-and-a-half from 2015, and an hour and 45 minutes from the last presidential election cycle in 2012, reports Nielsen.

Older viewers watch much more cable news. It accounts for 11.6% of TV viewing for people over 50, but just 2.5% for people 18 to 34.

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