Monday, January 23, 2017

The 2016 Presidential Election and the Media

By: Jim Bono, Vice President, Research, Crown Media Family Networks

The year 2016 featured what many called the “most important election of our time.”  However, this nation continues to be split by political affiliation and party.  This was extremely apparent in social media circles as supporters of Trump, Clinton and Sanders were extremely passionate in their opinions of the debates, news coverage and finally the election itself.  The mainstream media also had major differences of opinion – depending on if you were watching CNN or FOXNews.  Yet, the American people were still glued to their TV sets, watching the primaries, the debates and as much news coverage as they could to follow this presidential race.

The cable news networks definitely benefited from 2016 being an election year.  In 4th Qtr 2016, MSNBC, FOXNews and CNN displayed significant year-to-year over the previous 4th Qtr.  Among that key advertiser demographic of Women 25-54, MSNBC showed the largest growth, up +93%, followed by CNN (+81%) and FOXNews (+61%).  Among Total Viewers, FOXNews was the most watched cable network in 4th Qtr 2016 with 1.7 million viewers.  In fact, FOXNews, MSNBC and CNN were the top 3 cable networks among pure total viewer growth for 4Q’16 vs. 4Q’15.


However, by the time the election was over, it seemed the American people had enough.  The bias, melodrama, inaccuracies, and outrage that the television news journalists showed on election night proved to be intense, and eventually took its toll on the American viewers.

According to an article in The Washington Times, an analyst for YouGov wrote:

“As America deals with the fallout of the election, 27 percent of the country is actively trying to avoid the news.”
36% of Democrats were “making an effort to avert their gaze from newspapers and television news,” while 21% of Republicans are also trying to avoid the news.

The American people were cranky and needed something in the media to put them in a better mood.  They starting looking for that “feel good” environment on television.  And there were two cable networks that offered it to them – Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries!

The two cable networks, owned by Crown Media, had just launched their annual holiday campaigns at the beginning of the month, just prior to the election.  Hallmark Channel’s Countdown to Christmas proved to be a major success, premiering 19 new original holiday movies which consistently ranked in the top of their time period, occasionally beating even the broadcast networks.  

In fact, Hallmark Channel had the #1 movie of the week for 10 straight weeks, and 11 of those new premieres ranked as the #1 cable telecast of the day that they aired.  Furthermore, for all of 4th Qtr 2016, Hallmark Channel was HIGHEST RATED cable network (behind FOXNews) among HH rtg, and the #1 watched cable network among W25-54!

Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Most Wonderful Movies of Christmas campaign brought of 7 new original holiday movies, which averaged a 1.6 HH rtg, and ranked #3 in their Sunday night 9-11pm time period.  For a mid-sized cable network in just over 67 million homes, HMM delivered big numbers, outperforming many larger fully distributed cable networks like Lifetime, A&E, TLC and Bravo!

As a safe place for viewers to go and watch that “feel good” programming, the family friendly networks also experienced significant year-to-year growth, adding more new total viewers 4Q’16 vs. 4Q’15 than any other non-news cable network.

Daypart: Total Day
4Q'16
4Q'15
Yr-Yr
Viewing Source
P2+ (000)
P2+ (000)
Inc
FOX NEWS CHANNEL
1,675
1,190
+485
MSNBC
724
399
+325
CNN
868
575
+293
HALLMARK MOVIES & MYSTERIES
431
292
+139
HALLMARK CHANNEL
945
811
+134
INVESTIGATION DISCOVERY
717
627
+90
TV LAND
483
396
+87
FOX SPORTS 1
248
175
+73
NICK JR
409
353
+56
FOX BUSINESS NETWORK
146
95
+51
Source: Nielsen Live+SD data, top 10 cable networks


So while 2016 was a banner year for the cable news networks, and as social media thrived due to election coverage, viewers still want something that will let them escape from the negativity that many media outlets continue to push upon the American people day after day.

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