As the world continues to march toward some ever-present future calamity, it appears as though Americans are growing sick and tired of the apocalyptic rhetoric of the infotainment industry.
Where once the cable “news” networks relied on strict rules of journalism to fill the airwaves, they’ve not begun to rely ever more consistently on some editorialized version of events. They need the angst and the conflict in order to keep your attention through the commercial breaks, thus keeping the lights on and the salaries high.
But viewers are growing tired of the circus, and a recent ratings slump proves it.
While most people would say 2020 was one of the worst years on record, the same might not be said by cable news executives. All the pandemic turmoil and election strife of 2020 saw audiences glued to cable news channels, leading to a surge in viewership.
For example, 2020 daily viewership for Fox News was up 40.3% from 2019 numbers, according to Nielsen data analyzed by Bloomberg Intelligence. Another standout example: CNN saw 2020 daily viewership up a staggering 79.8% for the year.
Then came 2021, however…
But 2021 saw a major reversal in the viewership fortunes of the major cable news networks. Check out how steeply daily viewership dropped across all major cable news channels in 2021 compared to 2020:Advertisement - story continues below
Fox Business: -47.5%
Fox News: -34.6%
While some of these numbers are surely the result of an “off-year” for elections, the incredible drops of CNN and Fox, in particular, belie some much larger issue.
Experts have suggested that “burnout” could be to blame, particularly as the daily news feeds that we received are largely filled with negative stories, impending doom, and political bickering. And, with a global pandemic still hovering overhead, there are a great many viewers tuning out for the sake of their own mental health.