Show of hands, who can recall the last time they voluntarily turned on a television to watch the evening news on a major network?
I’m imagining a quiet classroom with maybe one or two students raising their hands, and the faint sound of crickets in the background.
And this is why. Ratings have dropped tremendously for those television news programs, many of them coming from major media conglomerates. And as the TV news ratings drop, the amount of people watching news through online video platforms and streaming services is increasing.
This is really good news for our friends in visual independent news. Cable isn’t the first place people are going for the news -- essentially, the Internet is the new cable. This means that people are just as likely to hit programs like Democracy Now and The Young Turks for breaking news as they are to hit CNN or MSNBC. And when people find these sites instead of the commercial ones, the coverage that this digital audience is viewing will be much different and way more progressive than anything they might find on cable.
The reason for this phenomenon is simple: in the Internet age, traditional form of news has lost its luster. The viewing age is already pretty high -- people in their 50s and above are the ones watching CNN and Fox News, not the 18-35 year old demographic. Young people just aren’t into television news in the same ways that their parents were. They are, however, into the Internet, and know how to use it to find alternative news sources.
Internet video platforms make it all fair game. Essentially, the news consumer can go anywhere (unless a lack of net neutrality ruins it, but that’s a different blog post) to find news they see as reliable. While this can pave the way for fake news sites to emerge, it also paves the way for smaller, groundbreaking indy news platforms to break into the limelight.
The digital environment is ripe for news streaming services. The question is, will it be CNN who takes advantage of that first? Or will it be the indy platforms -- the same ones whose success has been directly related to harnessing new online trends -- who really come out on top in the streaming world.