Why Are Cable News Networks Dying?

The news networks that once occupied your childhood living room television screens are slowly decaying, and they have been for some time now. 


Victoria Watercolor via Pixabay

The news isn’t what it used to be!

Most millennials and Gen Xers get their news from a conventional news anchor on large networks owned by massive corporations. However, networks like Fox News, CNN and MSNBC are experiencing a drop in viewership ratings. 

Multiple factors contribute to dropping ratings, including political bias, scandalous behavior from network executives and an oversaturation of the news market at large. All of these factors have caused the methodical decay of large corporate networks, and this is how. 

Social Media and Market Saturation 

If you are alive and conscious in present day American society, you are aware of social media. Some people are more fond of it than others, but almost everyone you know has some form of social media. 

This form of media has paved its own way as another source of news for hundreds of millions of people. It has achieved this simply by serving as a platform for users to share current events.

Social media especially caters to the younger generations in American society. This is one of the explanations for the drop off in viewership numbers for large news networks.  Social media sites offer access to news releases and offer links to other websites where one can access content freely. 

Another aspect of social media that has had a meteoric rise over the past couple of years is podcasts. Podcasts are not strictly an outlet for news, of course. However, they serve as an alternative for many people who have turned away from the segmented format of network news.

Instead, podcasts offer a long form conversation, usually between two people. Guests on shows have an extended period of time to share details. Their conversations can go in depth about national issues, events and even personal life. 

Many people prefer this outlet over traditional network news sources simply because there is generally no script for podcast episodes. It is simply a conversation. Now, the conversation can be about a certain issue or topic, but the conversational nature still remains. 

Political Bias and Scandal 

News sources have traditionally been a tool for keeping Americans informed. At some point, this main idea became distorted, and news sources became politically inclined to other parties. 

Now, it’s common knowledge which news sources cater to which political party. Here’s your guide: 

Fox News is your classic conservative news source that usually only has conservative guests, promotes conservative political candidates and tears down liberal candidates. 

On the opposite side of the spectrum is CNN and MSNBC. These sources are your classically liberal news outlets. These outlets typically cater to left wing ideology, support liberal candidates and tear down conservative candidates. 

Here is a chart of almost every major news network and where they fall in terms of political affiliation and standard factual reporting.  

All of these networks’ style of reporting is divisive. Some might argue they use this method intentionally to boost their ratings during times of domestic unrest. During one of the most hysterical and controversial years in American history, 2020, the gap between average American citizens seemed to have widened by these networks. 

In an article on the Axios News Website written in 2022, the statistics show that interactions with news articles on social media have dropped nearly 50 percent. It also indicates that with networks like Fox News, CNN and MSNBC, viewership ratings were down 19 percent in the first half of 2022.

The effects of the divisive reporting these networks conducted have worn off as American citizens eventually sought out other news sources. Many of these people lost faith in their respective cable news networks because of the scandals that occurred behind closed doors.

At Fox News, companies and former employees filed lawsuits for defamation and sexual harassment. CNN fired top executives just last year for “undisclosed romantic relationships,” and MSNBC has received heavy criticism aimed towards their credibility as an unbiased news source. 

What Does This Mean? 

There are arguments from both ends of the spectrum on whether or not American citizens should be tuning in daily to cable news networks. One might argue that watching cable news would ensure that citizens remain informed about important issues in our country. 

On the opposite end, someone else might argue that the network press presents issues based on inaccurate details or skewed information due to external factors like corporate sponsorships, political inclinations or even simply bad reporting. 

Now, these networks sometimes struggle to reach 1 million listeners for an entire news day as compared to podcasts, for example, where some of the most popular ones like The Joe Rogan Experience, The Daily and This American Life average close to 10 million listeners every episode. 

Meanwhile, the viewership ratings continue to decline for network news outlets. The former titans of the news industry are going extinct, and there is seemingly no escape.