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The Revealed Demand for Hard vs. Soft News: Evidence from Italian TV Viewership

Marco Gambaro, Valentino Larcinese, Riccardo Puglisi and James M. Snyder

No 10326, CESifo Working Paper Series from CESifo

Abstract: We analyze minute-by-minute, individual level data on viewership for Italian TV news broadcasts, matched with detailed data on content. We study viewer behavior, especially the decision of viewers to switch away from a news program as a function of the type of story being broadcast. Somewhat surprisingly, we find that viewers are systematically more likely to switch away from “soft” news compared to “hard” news. On the other hand, sensational stories about crime, accidents and disasters are associated with less switching. We also find significant differences in this switching behavior according to gender, age, and TV channel. For example, young people are relatively more likely to switch away from hard news than soft news, compared to older people. Finally, we find that viewers are relatively more likely to seek another news program if they are switching away from a soft news story. Overall, the results are inconsistent with a commonly held view that television viewers always prefer soft news to hard news.

Keywords: television news; media content; infotainment; consumer (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: L82 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2023
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cul and nep-eur
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