Pew: Top Cable News Networks See 55% Audience Boost

Viewership increase translates to almost $5 billion in revenue

Cable has become a destination for top-tier political news coverage, as the major cable news networks in 2016 collectively saw a 55% increase in viewership over the year before, according to a just-released annual analysis by the Pew Research Center.

Fox News Channel, CNN and MSNBC recorded the 55% gain to a combined average of 4.8 million viewers. (Pew said audience data for the major business news networks -- CNBC, Fox Business Network and Bloomberg -- were not available.)

Related > Fox News Channel Ends May on Top of Weekly Cable Ratings Chart

The 2016 boost is not a big surprise given that it was a presidential election year like none other, with a candidate, and now president, to match. The Trump story dominated cable news networks last year, and still does.

Related > Survey: Fox Dominant News Source for Trump Voters, CNN for Clinton Backers

The audience increase has translated to a 19% increase in total revenue across the three news networks to almost $5 billion, including both advertising and license fees, Pew said.

CNBC, Fox Business and Bloomberg saw increases in license fee revenue, Pew added, but ad revenue was essentially flat. The three business news nets planned a combined newsroom investment increase of 9% to $2.1 billion, according to SNL Kagan projections cited by Pew.