Viewers tune into morning news more often than evening: US study

MUMBAI: Of late, morning time is gradually emerging as a prime time for the newschannel on the home ground, in addition to the evening of course.

A new study from Ball State University states that the morning television news programs are growing more popular, possibly signaling an end to the early evening newscasts' dominance.

Mass entertainment channels continue to dominate the evenings in the US and the evening newscast still remains as the better watched segment. But if the reports from the US television are any indication, then even that could be a thing of the past soon.

Observing the media consumption habits of 101 people, the researchers discovered that people watched more news from 6 to 10 am than any other part of the day.

Even in the Indian metro markets, morning time is the favourite as India is by and large a single TV home and the Indian male has found the morning viewing more convenient.

As for the study, the co-author of the Middletown Media Studies Robert Papper offers, "These findings suggest a major shift from just a few decades ago, when the evening news programs drew the majority of viewers. Because of the introduction of new technologies and cable television, consumers are taking control. They are telling us that we'll consume the news when we want and the shows or networks we want to watch'."

"If they want to watch the weather, they can tune into the Weather Channel at any time of the day. Why should they wait for the local news if a cable channel has it when they want to watch?" he added.

The study was presented on 20 April at the Radio Television News Directors Association and National Association of Broadcasters conference in Las Vegas by communication studies professor Papper, Michael Holmes and journalism professor Mark Popovich.

The researchers compared traditional phone surveys and diaries used to measure media usage with direct observations - or shadowing - of 101 people for a day to record media consumption, say media reports.

The studies also examined a wide range of media, including television, radio, telephone, Internet, books, newspapers and magazines to review consumer use of media.

Interestingly the study found that the early morning and early evening newscasts had an equal number of viewers, but early morning viewers spent more time watching news programming.

The study indicated that midday was popular with 29 participants who logged 1,443 minutes. Late evening news programming from 7 PM to midnight registered highly with 45 respondents who consumed 2,455 minutes.

"I think early morning news is more popular because people have more time to watch it. 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," said Papper said.

In the study, Papper even suggested that in the wake of the findings, local television news producers and media companies are likely to address the shift in consumer consumption of news programming. "Instead of having a 5 to 6 PM newscast, you might see a 7 PM news program. Producers will have to create news shows when viewers want to watch them or risk losing those viewers," he suggested.

Amongst the other findings, it was observed that the average television viewer was observed watching 94 minutes of news daily, nearly triple the amount recorded by phone surveys and diaries.

Researchers discovered that people aged 35 and older are watching television three times as much as people aged18 to 34 and consuming nearly four times as much television news programming daily as their younger counterparts.

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