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31 January 2018


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You can read real literature on a kindle. It is really sad that we have a nation of citizens with zero attention span. Literature is not meant to be condensed to its selling points, not everything is a transaction.



If you want data, here's a partial set. If you have any additional areas of interest, let me know.

This is a major media spending study:
It shows steady spending on TV as a share of a roughly 3% year-on-year growing ad market for the last decade. This is significant because the people spending the money are seeing results and, thus, continuing to spend.

This is Amazon data that shows CNN, NYT, et al. in the Top 50 US sites:

Superbowl ad data, showing steady increase over time:

CNN employment data:

For late night, this is the Jimmy Kimmel YouTube page (10.8 million subscribers alone):

Stephen Colbert Twitter (17.4 million followers):

Failing New York Times stock quote

Long term employment in the newspaper and publishing industries (this does support your impression of the newspaper industry, which is correct and expected to contract a further 8% next year. But you'll also see a modest increase in TV and a huge increase in digital):

Seamus Padraig

Yeah, I'm surprised Tacitus didn't mention the internet at all. I'm sure that's a far bigger factor than talk radio. Me, personally, I almost never watch TV anymore, and when I do, it's strictly for entertainment. And I don't listen to talk radio either. For news and views, I go straight to the internet.


As a young person, I was always in trouble for bringing a book to the table. I read, read, read. But I chose classics. Harry Potter, Hunger Games? Really? If you read the first book of these, you know the plot line and how it will end each time you start the first chapter of the next book in the series.

I taught public school English and college and community college English. Believe me when I say that if you give a young person more than three paragraphs to read of content that is serious or loaded with information, he/she just can't handle it. The reading materials for my community college/college classes were so simple and the writing assignments were the same as those I gave to ninth-grade students when I first began to teach in 1970. (I had to follow a department curriculum.)

I keep suggesting that people read a book by the historian Leonard Shlain entitled The Alphabet vs. the Goddess. Some historians don't want to accept his work because he hasn't done much to fit into the academic community, I guess. But I found the premise of the book pretty interesting and quite possibly true. He contends that societies and periods of human history alternate between linear societies that are logical and word based (Alphabet) and thus rely on the written word and those that are more artistic and symbolic (Goddess).

I certainly do not find many young people now and even some my own age who can sit still to read more than a few sentences and who can listen to more than short sound bites. They seem to gather their information through common memes that are floating about on their social networks, on their computer screens (phone screens) and as they hear things in their daily lives at coffee shops, work, social events, etc.

I'm sitting here with my personal over 1,000 book library. These are books I kept because I just couldn't bear to give them up. I have them categorized and shelved according to the Library of Congress system. I'm leaving them to my own children as a burden since they won't know what in the world to do with them all. And they surely won't take time to read any of them. It's quite sad.

I do not have Harry Potter books or Hunger Game books in my collection, by the way.

Sadly, PT is absolutely correct in his analysis, I think, of the voting public nowadays. Quite frankly, I believe the Democrats like having a public of "useful idiots" while the Republicans like their home-town heroes and the common folk. These two types of people have totally different interests. Thus, the campaign rhetoric of each national party is so very different in what they choose to put forward as their platform issues. And in the current environment, Trump did have the advantage because the Democratic Party had such a much younger base in many regards, people still worried about what celebrities think and feel and still hearing the garbage put out by young wet-behind-the ears professors who have been trained in all the new ideologies and can spew them out. History and literature are just "lies told by old white guys," as the saying goes.

I also taught journalism and was the high school newspaper adviser for three years. It's quite sad for me to see the state of print journalism now and the broadcast journalism doesn't often deserve to be called "journalism."



Jimmy Fallon has 50 million Twitter followers and 15 million YouTube subscribers. https://twitter.com/jimmyfallon

The point is that lots of people like Fallon and watch him, they just aren't doing so on traditional TV.

Another point on newspapers. The problem with WaPo the NYT and even local papers is not readership. Both of them have large, digital audiences, even though they both have paywalls. The difficulty is in monetizing those audiences beyond subscriptions. Two factors are in play here. First, digital ads do not cost as much as print ads, nor can we put as many of them on a page. But what has truly crushed the newspaper industry is the near complete erosion of classified ad revenue, which used to account for 50% of the total revenue of any paper. That is due to the proliferation of free outlets for classified ads online. This can be seen obliquely from the Group M reports I already cited, but is a well known fact in the industry.

For another interesting data point, here's the print readership of the NYT going back about 10 years. It's roughly steady, not declining. https://www.statista.com/statistics/229984/readers-of-the-new-york-times-daily-edition-usa/

Lee A. Arnold

There is also a generational difference. Teens use Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube, more than Facebook and much more than Twitter. And they are tending to more use of smartphones and tablets for access. Facebook and Twitter are old geezer stuff.

Publius Tacitus

And you believe that Fallon really has 50 million followers? I have a bridge to sell you. 20 years ago I did some work for Hollywood writer Stephen Cannell. He wrote books that became instant best sellers. Know how? He hired people like me and gave me funds to go out and bulk purchases of books. Within a week he was on the NY Times bestseller list (Oh yeah, we targeted particular bookstores).
Here is what we know for sure--fewer people are watching Fallon and Colbert today than was the case 20 years ago. The number of people employed in the electronic and print media has dropped precipitously. The current media world is basically a collection of obscure choirs singing to themselves.

Account Deleted

Vive le Président Soleil.



Your analysis is flawed without considering Internet viewers. Look at Youtube and other Internet streaming services. Peope in the younger demographic don't watch regular TV news or talk shows.


As the song goes “You took the words right out of my mouth...”

How the Trump campaign must have laughed!


SJW's and microtargeting have nothing to do with the basic advertising calculation.

You pay for the ad and then measure the sales impact it has.
If the impact was high enough, you buy another ad.

If you expect to reach 7% of the population, you will have a definite idea of how this will affect your sales. Next, the price of the ad is a trade off between the channel wanting to sell almost *all* the ad spots and advertisers wanting to get greatest impact for least price.

Advertisers clearly don't see enough impact to carry a higher price. Hence the price was reduced.

Therefore, Mr Limbaugh's audience size is nowhere near 26,000,000.

scott s.

I remember the "good old days" when we got the daily faxed "Early Bird" (a DoD-produced clipping service) and a few copies were made and passed around (when you saw it depended on how high up you were in the food chain).



I think you're spot on with your criticism of Jimmy Fallon's 50M Twitter followers. Just compare reactions to his Tweets with those of Donald Trump, who currently has 47M followers.

Here's a comparison of the last three tweets of Jimmy Fallon (aged between 12 and 14 hours) and Donald Trump (all 15 hours old):

Min Fav'd: 1,2k; Max Fav'd: 1,3k.
Min RT'd: 110; Max RT'd: 169.
Min Replies: 44; Max Replies: 64.

Min Fav'd: 96k; Min Fav'd: 142k.
Min RT'd: 24k; Max RT'd: 29k.
Min Replies: 19k; Max Replies: 66k.

So, Trump has about 100 times more user interactions than Fallon, though Fallon claims to have more followers than Trump. Of course, that doesn't mean Trump has a 100 times more real followers than Fallon, but it's at the very least an indicator for vastly different attention paid by Twitter users to the Tweets of these Twitter personalities.


Aren't CNN numbers skewed though as every TV in every waiting room of all types is tuned to them?

Publius Tacitus

No, it is not flawed. If the internet numbers were actually that strong but, more importantly, generated income, then these various stations would not be 50% (in terms of staff/reporters) from what they were 20 years ago. But you go ahead and keep believing in what a powerful force they are. I'll keep an eye out for the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus for you.



"You pay for the ad and then measure the sales impact it has."

Pay whom, precisely? What position in the broadcast other than weekend vs. weekday and just how much time are you getting for $1,000?

Eric Newhill

That seems like a dumb way to measure viewership/listenership. What if people were tuned into the station, but simply didn't buy what the advertisers were trying to sell for various reasons?


Data that I collected in the fall of 2016:
-- Americans were spending $20,000,000,000 (yes, b-b-billion) per year on cable box top rentals alone. That is why Shepherd's point about people 'cutting cable' is an understatement.
-- set-top costs had climbed 185% between 1994 -2016; basically, the cables jacked up the rent in order to stay lucrative
-- costs of computers and mobiles declined +/- 90% between 1994 - 2016
-- infrastructure and codecs to enable streaming emerged in the late 1990s, and matured around 2008.

Mobiles took off with the iPhone (2007+, which was based on cellular network improvements)
Tablets went mainstream starting in 2010 with the iPad, and if you need stats on adoption rates, leave a message and I'll post later.
Also in 2017, a newer, simpler way to stream video (HTML4) became possible, so that the ability to stream video was technically simpler - it just needed big pipes and faster networks.

In 2014, tv was a $170,000,000,000/year business.
HBO/Cinebax had 138,000,000 cable *subscribers*
As of 2014, Netflix had 59,000,000 subscribers -- all of them streaming (40,000,000 in US) -- but by 2017, growth had expanded to over 117,000,000 subscribers (almost 55,000,000 US).

Google [Alphabet] bought YouTube in 2006 (for less than 2,000,000,000 -- a mere pittance of with the total US tv revenue, and raised a lot of eyebrows over their 'overpriced gamble'. Traditional tv gets *very little* of that ad revenue, unless it has: (1) app revenue (it's smarter to offer apps free and monetize ads), or else (b) licensing agreements to stream content.
(If anyone has other info, I'd be interested (!)).

The employment stats for MSNBC are a bit quirky, and I don't know all the details, but I have a hunch about what **appear** to be lower employment figures.. Originally, MSNBC was a joint venture between Microsoft and NBC. It was located on the main (Redmond) Microsoft campus, and I'm told that it had a 'push the envelope vibe' and a software context (because digital content delivery requires software). I'm told that is no longer the case; it was decoupled from Microsoft some years ago, the offices moved to a city location, and the supervision is now done by 'suits' from Back East. If those employees were previously booked on MSNBC's payroll accounts, they may now be booked on NBC's, or some other corporate entity. If I'm hearing astutely, you have a software mindset stuck in a 'corporate-media structure'.

My information is consistent with what Shepherd is reporting: what appear to be lower US football viewership rates are masking a move to digital media.

Consider that Comcast averages around $150/mo.
I pay for FIOS (Frontier $90/mo) and stream Netflix for $11.
I also subscribe to the NYT Digital, for around $15/mo (to appease my mother's ghost).
I stream ridiculous amounts of video, but what is most interesting is to see the growing range of voices. And most of the ad revenue that my views generate go to YouTube, because that's what I watch -- as do many that I know.

Although I still watch 'too much' news (online, on an AppleTV), and I think that PT's point about Trump having a better 'audience sense' than the traditional press is probably accurate, I don't think that's nearly the whole story. Trump has a sense of drama, of 'reality tv' demands. His 'skill set' seems to be firing people; it's his modus operandi, and IMVHO part of why people voted for him - to 'fire' people. But at some point, people come to realize that maybe they need a few employees left on the job, so the 'firing everyone' role becomes stale.

I think we are very early into Act II of Trumpism.
But we are in the infancy of new media, and streaming video, and on-demand viewing.
Trump will not age well.

The media will have to adapt, but Trump will not be able to navigate the new, less-egocentric possibilities that await.

He should enjoy this moment; because his skill set is too limited, and his notions of tv reality show as politics, is too self-absorbed, to wear well over the longer term.

If you want to see a clever use of media, and one that the conventional pundits can't hope to match, watch a YouTube of Mexico's former president (Vincente Fox) rubbishing Donald Trump. It's witty, short, and informative. A new rhetoric, and much more in tune with Colbert, Trevor Noah, or Seth Meyers, who IMVHO, are our new press titans.


No doubt but probably the only way to save the Republic.


Sad news.

Parry was part of a small group of journalists, the last generation who could really use the title Journalist. Today's MsM hacks are either just shrill propagandists or lazy stenographers.


PT I think you're right. According to Variety there were at least 14 internet sources that live streamed the SOTU. It is unclear if online viewership polling was included in the 46 million that Nielsen reported. Nielsen only recently began using data from Comcast and the satellite providers. The actual number of viewers may be much higher or lower when streaming is counted. Many Americans today are ditching satellite and cable due to the cost and using online streaming sources such as Roku and others.



That's is exactly my point. These various stations are now 50%, like you said, because they don't make much money from all those Internet viewing. Talk to young people, they just don't watch TV the traditional way anymore. I'm afraid you might be a little bit out of touch.



I can only counter your arguments by quoting bald and boring figures.

The publishers of The Hunger Games have said that their books have outsold the staggering sales of the Harry Potter series and quoted a figure of over 50 million copies sold (23 million copies of The Hunger Games, 14 million of Catching Fire, and 13 million of Mockingjay) just in the US. I don't think these figures include Kindle sales, and quite a lot of them will have been passed from hand to hand.


Elsewhere its calculated that a similar number of people have seen the films in the US.



I probably should mention that although I watch TV shows, I don't watch them on a TV. I download them from the Internet and watch them on the computer.

But I suspect it's just a fraction of TV show watchers who do that. Most people still watch TV on a TV.

I recall a few years ago when I was frequenting a site called TV By The Numbers that they kept pointing out that the claimed reduction in TV watchers and "cable cutting" was mostly a myth, according to the official TV surveys and statistics. But they weren't talking about the NEWS shows, just the overall TV viewership.

I can believe that TV news has gone down hill.

I recall many years ago that NBC had two hot babes reading the morning news. Then they stopped that because it was just too obvious that they were relying on sex appeal. Now every time I happen to see a local news show (I watched one yesterday in a medical clinic) that they usually have two hot babes reading the news. They may still rely on one woman, one man to anchor the evening news, but the rest of the day they rely on two women. So clearly the emphasis is on flash over substance for most news shows these days.


His books were ghost written.

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