Though television remains the predominant supplier of local news in the US, online media has become a great competitor. According to a study of the TV news industry, to understand news media trend lines clearly, there are two key things to consider: One is news consumption and the other is cost vs. revenue.
Researchers Debora Wenger and Bob Papper found that costs for producing TV news are dropping as technology gets cheaper, and the regulatory environment is likely to allow further consolidation, which may again reduce costs. These are positive trends for local TV news versus competitors.
In terms of audience, Nielsen reports that people spent a little less than 2.5 hours a day watching local news on television in the first quarter of 2017, a slight increase from the previous year.
In contrast, Wenger et al. found that newspapers continue to lose circulation, and radio is neither growing nor shrinking. When it comes to online-only sites, the researchers found that commercial TV and newspapers dominate local news online, but TV dominates social media.
The research team concluded that, although financial success in local TV news is much harder than it was a decade ago, before the economic crisis of 2008, the business is still profitable. However, in-depth interviews with news industry leaders revealed that there are concerns about the diminishing quality of local TV content and worries about whether profits can be sustained without widespread innovation.
Wenger; Debora & Papper; Bob (2018) Knight Foundation, LOCAL TV NEWS AND THE NEW MEDIA LANDSCAPE, April 5, 2018.