Cable news networks are getting a big Trump Bump in Charlotte.
Since Trump became president in January, the cable news networks – on both sides of the ideological spectrum – are seeing dramatic increases in viewing in the Charlotte area.
Fox News Channel, which has always attracted an older audience and has always been popular in the region, is seeing surges in younger viewers.
In the hours of 5 to 7 p.m., for example, Fox News Channel is up 140 percent among viewers in the 18-54 demographic in the Charlotte region vs. an increase of 18 percent in the age 55-and-over demographic. Overall, it attracts about 45,000 total viewers during those hours.
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MSNBC has seen a 100 percent jump in the same hours among viewers 18-54 in the region in those hours and a 14 percent increase among viewers 55 and older. Overall, it attracts about 12,000 total viewers in the region during those hours.
CNN has seen a 54 percent increase among viewers 18-54 in the region in those hours and an 80 percent increase among viewers 55 and older. Overall, it attracts about 15,000 total viewers in the region during those hours.
Overall viewing of the five major English-language cable news channels in the Charlotte area is up 21 percent during the 5 to 7 p.m. period.
Local news ratings
A year after WBTV (Channel 3) eclipsed rival WSOC (Channel 9) in news ratings for the first time in 30 years, the two stations are virtually tied for overall viewers in key Charlotte newscasts, but WSOC has taken a small lead in all but the 11 p.m. hour.
In the latest ratings from Nielsen, WCNC (Channel 36) continues to show growth in overall viewers in most key newscasts, particularly in the mornings.
This is the first ratings period without co-anchor Beth Troutman, who left the station in January after only 16 months, and was replaced during February sweeps by reporter Rachel Brown on the late newscasts alongside Fred Shropshire. Troutman’s permanent replacement, Sarah French, starts this month.
In the 25-54 age demographic – which is important because it is the one that stations use to sell advertising – WSOC holds the lead in all key newscasts except at 11 p.m. where it ties with WBTV at about 23,000 viewers each. WCNC has gained in the 25-54 demographic at that hour, reaching about 17,000 viewers.
Reaching younger viewers who advertisers covet has become increasingly difficult because of the exploding number of media choices delivered by internet and broadband and the preference of younger consumers to get their news from their phones.
Early morning news shows in Charlotte – which all grew in viewers during February sweeps year to year – tend to draw more younger viewers on a percentage basis than the traditional late newscasts, which skew older in viewership.
For example, more than half of the viewers at 6 p.m. for Charlotte’s three longtime news stations are over 55. At that hour, WBTV attracts 75,000 viewers in that age demographic, WSOC 67,000 and WCNC 28,000. WJZY (Channel 46), which is affiliated with the younger-skewing Fox network and which launched its 6 p.m. newscast in July 2014, draws about 3,000 viewers at that hour in the over-55 demographic, about 40 percent of its overall audience.
At 10 p.m., WAXN (Channel 64) remains the news leader. WCCB (Channel 18), which is affiliated with the weaker CW network, continues to double the number of viewers from its 9 p.m. CW shows for its 10 p.m. newscast while WJZY loses about half its Fox lead-in viewers at 10 p.m.
Other viewing trends:
▪ Consumers are apparently continuing to cut the cable. Time Warner Cable, the dominant cable provider for the Charlotte region, is in about 530,000 households, a 13 percent decrease from 2010.
▪ WCCB, which lost its Fox network affiliation to WJZY in 2013, continues to be one of the strongest CW affiliates in the nation in terms of prime-time viewing.
Charlotte news ratings
Here is the estimated number of overall viewers for key weekday newscasts in Charlotte during the most recent sweeps period in February and year-to-year percentage changes as measured by Nielsen.