Television remains extremely important in the United States, even if it is challenged by new media. It remains the most important source of news for Americans, with 50 percent saying they often get news from television, still higher than online sources, though the latter are gaining.
The television industry is complex. The national broadcast networks are the heart of the system, and still play a central, though diminishing role. The most important are ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and Univisión. The latter is one of two national Spanish-language networks, and at times exceeds some of the English-language networks in audience ratings. (Univisión is the largest of many "ethnic" media that exist in all forms of media in the US. Other ethnic media with relatively large audiences include Spanish-language radio stations in many regions, African-American magazines, and the Black Entertainment Television cable channel).
Another component of the system is the local stations, some of which are owned by the national networks and some by other media companies. Most have their own news broadcasts, and collectively local TV stations are the largest source of news for Americans. As with radio, concentration of ownership has grown considerably in this sector in recent years, with the five largest companies (Sinclair, Nexstar, Gray, Tegna and Tribune), increasing the number of stations they owned from 179 in 2004 to 443 in 2016. A third component is cable; in terms of news, the dominant players in cable news are Fox News, CNN and MSNBC. Fox and MSNBC are known for their strong partisan and ideological identities.
Finally, as audience has shifted to digital video, often watched on mobile screens, other players have become increasingly important and have begun to produce their own programming, including Netflix, Apple, Hulu and Amazon.
In 2016, 46 percent of Americans said they often got news from local TV, 31 percent from cable news and 30 percent from national broadcast news. The flagship broadcasts of the national networks have audiences of about 7-10 million viewers nightly, the top cable news broadcasts have audiences a bit under 3 million daily, and Univision's flagship broadcast has an audience of a bit under 2 million daily.