Memo to Mainstream Media: Game Over
At some point in history, the craftsman who made butter churns must have known their days were numbered. With mass production and the ushering in of the industrial age, the thought of churning butter was laughable.
Now, in the current technology age, mainstream media continues to churn butter in the form of nightly network news. It’s a broken product in decline, draining millions upon millions of dollars from large networks like NBC, CBS and ABC. No one is watching and certainly anyone under 50 doesn’t look to network news for their window to the world.
Tuesday, network news ratings were released and highlighted that newscasts lost more than 1 million viewers in the past 12 months. Faced with an ever-changing 24-hour news cycle and aggressive cable news operations, the days of Walter Conkrite and news around the dinner table have passed.
The most recent numbers are brutal for all three major networks. The NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams lost 440,000 viewers (a loss of 140K in the important 25-54 demo) compared to the same period in 2009. ABC’s World News with Diane Swayer lost nearly 300,000 viewers and CBS Evening News with Katie Couric lost 350,000 viewers.
A further look at the numbers shows even more troubling data for the old-school broadcast fat-cats: in the vital 25-54 demographic, no broadcast captured more than 2 million viewers a night. CBS is last with just 1.6 million viewers on average — this despite huge coverage around the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. People aren’t turning to these broadcasts anymore, yet the networks continue to spend tens of millions of dollars on them and their high-priced talent.
Much like newspapers failed to move fast enough to leverage the Internet, network news has been focused on a model that worked in 1970 but not in 2010. Their arrogance in failing to realize the consumer’s changes in habits and needs has only lead to ruin. And, in my view, this is OK.Continued on the next page