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Study: A.M. News Most-Watched

Apr 26, 2004  •  Post A Comment

New research suggests television viewers are increasingly watching news during the early-morning hours.
The study, from Ball State University’s Center for Media Design, found viewers watching more news programming between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. than at any other part of the day. The findings could challenge the conventional assumption that viewers prefer evening news.
“Early-morning news is more popular because people have more time to watch it,” said study researcher Robert Papper. “They get up, flip on the television and get ready for work. Because Americans are working and commuting more than ever, they are getting home later. They may not be home for the early news because of work or family obligations.”
The news consumption study found the early-morning and early-evening newscasts had an equal number of viewers, but early-morning viewers spent more time watching news programming. Mr. Papper said local news producers tend to focus too much on individual show performance.
“In a number of markets, this shift to the morning has already taken place, but we don’t track viewership that way,” he said. “On any given show, you still see the biggest accumulation at 6 [p.m.] and 11 p.m., but they’re missing the bigger picture.”
The study was done in July and August 2003 with people living in Muncie and Delaware County, Indiana. The results were released at the Radio-Television News Directors Association and National Association of Broadcasters conference in Las Vegas.
One popular question among news directors was whether viewers were really watching the morning programs, or just listening to them.
“We think we have the answer in our data,” Mr. Papper said. “But we can’t tell you yet.”