News watching TV 9

Published on December 11th, 2018 | by Brad Gibson


Pew Study: TV still top news source for Americans with streaming news use growing

Television is still the most popular platform for news consumption even though its use has declined since 2016, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center, conducted earlier this year. With the advent of live streaming news sources, many Americans are watching TV news online on devices like Apple TV.

Among the three different types of TV news asked about, local TV is the most popular – 37 percent get news there often, compared with 30 percent who get cable TV news often and 25 percent who often watch national evening network news shows.

Among interest to Apple TV streamers…For the first time, Pew asked respondents if they got news from a streaming device on their TV and found nine percent of U.S. adults said that they do so often. 

Pew researchers said there is a large amount of overlap between those who stream TV news and those who get news on broadcast television. 73 percent – a majority – who get news from streaming TV often also say that they get news on broadcast or cable TV.

News diets differ drastically for younger and older Americans, the study found. Age gaps that have long been notable have now widened substantially, with those 65 and older five times as likely as 18- to 29-year-olds to often get news from TV. 

Television dominated as a news source for older Americans. 81 percent of those polled, aged 65-plus, named TV news as their main news source, as do about two-thirds (65 percent) of those 50 to 64.

Far fewer young Americans are turning to television news, however – only 16% of those 18 to 29 and 36% of those 30 to 49 get news often from television. The age divide is nearly as large for social media, but in the other direction: Those 18 to 29 are about four times as likely to often get news there as those 65 and older.

Those 18 to 29 years of age named TV news as their third-favorite news source, with social media first at 36 percent, and news websites second at 27 percent. 

Pew research study chart

Social media sites have surpassed print newspapers as a news source for Americans, the study found. One-in-five U.S. adults say they often get news via social media, slightly higher than the share who often do so from print newspapers (16 percent) for the first time since Pew Research Center began asking these questions. In 2017, the portion who got news via social media was about equal to the portion who got news from print newspapers.

Social media’s small edge over print emerged after years of steady declines in newspaper circulation and modest increases in the portion of Americans who use social media.

Younger Americans are also unique in that they don’t rely on one platform in the way that the majority of their elders rely on TV. No more than half of those ages 18 to 29 and 30 to 49 get news often from any one news platform, the survey found.

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About the Author

Brad is co-founder and editor-in-chief of He has been a technology reporter since the late 1980s having previously worked for MacUser, MacFormat, and iCreate magazines, as well as,,,, and He hosted and produced the MacFormat This Week podcast for three years. He was also a reporter, editor, and producer for the AOL, the BBC, Associated Press, and United Press International.

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