During Troubling Events, Local TV News Dominates as the Chosen Medium

The novel coronavirus has put a red alert across the globe, as restrictions and worry have grasped the US while the problem spread. The United States began to really suffer the impact of the sometimes fateful virus later than other parts of the globe, and there is a grave interest in where individuals are getting their necessary coverage.

A recent Nielsen analysis proves a somewhat surprising trend during these troubling times: there has been a distinguishable spike in local news viewing between early February and early March. Where exactly did the data come from? It was gleaned from Nielsen’s Local People Meter (LPM) markets, the markets that come in as the 25 largest via Nielsen’s Local TV Household Universe Estimates.

What is a bit surprising is that the rise in the very young population aged 2-17 was a 20% boost. In the 25-54 age group, the rise was gauged at slightly more than 10%. Justin LaPorte, the VP of Local Audience Insights at Nielsen, remarked that those in the age group of non-adults usually watch next to now local news. However, the week of March 9 is when schools across the nation had begun to shut down, and the result was higher viewing in this age group.

When a close look is taken at the way humans have behaved during crises in the past, this new trend makes sense. As COVID-19 began to spread drastically across the nation, the areas where viewership rose were where may cases were officially reported. The West Coast suffered a blow earlier than other regions, and Seattle, Sacramento, and San Francisco saw the most significant increases in local news viewing.

With a vast majority of America now at home, many have chosen local TV for the news during the crisis, providing an opportunity for many various advertisers to showcase the benefits of their products. One national trend over the past 4 years had led to brands abandoning local TV as spots opened up, and perceive that Google and Facebook marketing was “the only way” to generate needed sales.

One exception was during local sports: for professional and even college events, these were some slots where advertisers were willing to shell out money. One of the important questions to ask here is evident: why would people turn to local news at such great numbers, when national networks might have the “legit scoop” on stats and disease findings?

When bad things are happening, sometimes a face or voice that you have been familiar with for years could feel like “the perfect antidote”. Also, the behavior of a consumer is apt to shift as disruptions make their way through any segment of national OR local culture. As concerns about the current virus situation run higher, the viewing behavior of those in the 25-55 demographic can change rapidly as well.

Local news is a tremendous standout, gaining five share points for p25-54 viewing in total to broadcast, increasing now to 30.9% of all quarter-hours tuned across broadcast during the week of March 8. As people look to evoke a sense of calm and potentially escape the drudgery of “bad news”, Situation Comedy, Feature Film, Participation Variety, and General Drama have also seen notable gains in total broadcast viewership.

As America is for the most part forced to “stay put” to promote public safety, there are many different types of digital and broadcast-based strategy to roll out for your business. All hands on deck here at Farfetched Studios recognize the various trends that are taking place now for the better, and can provide insight and guidance for the best results in profitability and vitality for 2020.

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