According to a report this week by Nielsen, the global information, data and measurement company, American adults spent a combined 73.5 billion gross minutes consuming news in an average week in 2016, an increase of 18 percent on the year before.
The company’s fourth-quarter 2016 US Total Audience Report found that this increase was powered for the most part by a rise in cable network news viewing.
These adult news consumers spent an average of almost six-and-a-half hours a week tuning in to national cable television news last year.
This represents an increase of nearly an hour and a half from 2015 and an hour and three-quarters from the last election cycle of 2012. But the increase was not limited to television viewing.
Nielsen pointed to the technological advances that have given consumers immediate access to all kinds of content, from streaming the latest sitcom on a smartphone to using a game console to play a first-person shooter against a rival on the other side of the country.
But, the statement added, “perhaps no type of programming content is more a perfect fit for multi-platform distribution than the news”, particularly since “these advances have led to a never-ending supply of specific news stories from all over the globe”.
Nielsen said the growth of what one might be tempted to describe as a news “bubble” showed no sign of bursting.
As of January 2017, the company said, consumers’ weekly time spent reading, listening or watching the news was already outpacing the average amount in 2016 over all the different distribution channels. Looking into a crystal ball one might be able to see a “Newsgate” scandal on the horizon. But why would you believe me?