That appears to be changing, as afternoon scheduling is attracting an increasing number of viewers, according to a story in the New York Times March 16.
For example, neither Tucker Carlson nor Sean Hannity now attract the most viewers on Fox News.
That honor goes to "The Five," a talk show that airs at 5 p.m. in the East, which is 2 p.m. on the West Coast.
On MSNBC in January, Ari Melber's 6 p.m. ET show had the network's largest viewership. That was the first time since the network began in 1996 that a show outside of 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. achieved that.
Erin Burnett and Jake Tapper had the most viewers on CNN in January, at 7 p.m. and 4 p.m. respectively.
"The reasons are myriad," writes the New York Times. "Without the visceral urgency of a dangerous virus -- or a sitting president who tweets erratically late into the night -- America’s news obsessives may simply feel more comfortable changing the channel in the evenings rather than waiting on tenterhooks for the latest development."
The rise in popularity of streaming services also appears to be a factor in the shift.
"Americans over 65 are the core audience of 24/7 news channels, but these older viewers are increasingly turning to streaming platforms like Netflix or Amazon Prime for their entertainment," according to the Times. "According to Nielsen, Americans over 65 watched nearly twice as many hours of streaming television in December 2022 as they did in December 2020 -- the biggest increase among any age demographic in that period."
Jonathan Klein, former president of CNN, talked about the importance of streaming services relative to the trend.
"Unless there’s something super compelling going on in the world, prime-time viewers have so many other streaming options now to watch," Klein said, according to the Times. "There’s so much more choice than there used to be. You can watch ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ on streaming. It’s hard for the news to compete with Maverick."
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