Mr. Screen’s Crystal Ball: In five years, we will look back on 2020 as the high watershed moment for cable TV news.
Big question #1: Which news channels had the highest viewership in 2020?
Cable news networks by prime-time audience (YoY growth) according to Nielsen:
1) Fox News – 3.6M (↑ 44%)
Interesting: The Wall Street Journal overlaid viewership changes with major news events.
Big question #2: What does the video news business look like in 2030?
We believe the video news business will shift in some combination of the following four scenarios.
Scenario #1: Video news is consumed primarily live AND through a bundle. New players (Newsmax, etc.) may emerge to fill niche gaps, but live sports and news create enough demand that new bundles (Apple, HBO Max, Xfinity Flex, etc.) provide an attractive offering. The business model is a mix of subscription fees and advertising.
Scenario #2: Video news is consumed primarily live through a direct to consumer (D2C) subscription (Fox Nation, rumored CNN offering, etc.). The business model is a mix of subscription fees and advertising.
Scenario #3: Video news is consumed primarily live BUT WITHOUT a paid subscription (Tubi, Newsy, Cheddar, etc.). The business model is primarily advertising.
Scenario #4: Video news is consumed primarily on-demand and distributed through social networks, apps, and email newsletters. A great example is the amazing work from the team at The Recount. The business model is primarily advertising.
Why this matters: Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN each beat out ESPN for the top three most-watched cable networks in 2020. News is a major reason why people have traditional pay-TV.
The main reason someone pays for live TV according to Civic Science:
1) News – 30%