Fewer and fewer Americans are getting their news from television despite what feels like a never-ending news cycle primarily focused on President Donald Trump and the drama surrounding his administration.
Just 50 percent of American adults got news “regularly” from television in 2017, down from 57 percent in early 2016, according to new data from Pew Research. Fewer people got regular news from cable TV, network TV and local TV stations.
Local TV is still a more popular source of news for Americans than either network TV (ABC, NBC) or cable news channels (Fox News, CNN), though local’s lead is shrinking quickly.
Just 37 percent of Americans got news “often” from local TV last year, down from 46 percent in 2016. Network TV’s regular news audience dropped by four points, and now 26 percent of Americans get news often from network TV. Cable TV fell just 3 percent, and provides news often to 28 percent of American adults.
What does this mean?
Well, for starters it means that more and more people are getting their news from places other than traditional television, a $70 billion annual business in the U.S. alone. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are growing in popularity among news consumers, with fewer and fewer young people watching traditional TV at all.
But the data from Pew also helps explain why local TV stations are still attractive to big-time media organizations. Despite a shrinking audience, they’re still more popular than network or cable programming.
This is why Sinclair Broadcast Group is trying to buy Tribune Media, which operates dozens of local TV affiliates across the country, and why 21st Century Fox will hold onto a decent business by keeping its 28 local TV stations after selling most of its business to Disney late last year.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.