Coronavirus: US audiences turn to local TV | Ratings/Measurement | News | Rapid TV News
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Research from Nielsen has found that in the ‘new normal’ of the Covid-19 pandemic, local TV news has proven to be the medium of choice for news and information for people of all ages in the US as they gravitate to local news outlets to stay informed about the impact on their communities.
nielsen viewing 26March2020
The analyst notes that the US began to experience the impact later than other parts of the world, and so its data found a notable spike in local news viewing between early February and early March. Viewing data was analysed across Nielsen’s Local People Meter (LPM) markets, which are 25 of the largest local markets as defined by Nielsen’s Local TV Household Universe Estimates.

For persons aged two and older, local news experienced a 7% viewership lift between early February and the week of March 9. Among persons 25–54, the spike was higher, at more than 10%. The analyst said that perhaps most interesting however, was that the lift among younger persons aged 2-17 was 20%.

The research also discovered that the viewing behaviour of people 25-54, a key selling demo for local advertisers, was shifting as well. Across the full complement of genres people were watching across major broadcast networks in the LPM markets, a few genres were found to be benefiting more than others. Local news stood out, almost gaining five share points for P25-54 viewing in total to broadcast, increasing to 30.9% of all quarter-hours tuned across broadcast the week of March 9. General drama, participation variety, situation comedy and feature film also saw notable gains in their share of overall broadcast viewership.

WIth the West Coast being hit earlier than other regions, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Seattle had the most significant increases in local news viewing. During the analysed period, local news viewing among people 25-54 was up 38% in San Francisco; news viewing in LA increased 25% among the same age group.

“Non-adults have typically contributed very little to the profile of local news viewing,” said Justin LaPorte, VP, local audience insights, Nielsen commenting on the research findings. ”In the week of 9 March, however, when schools across the US began to move to in-home learning, 25-54s added more local news to their daily routines. As a result, there was more viewing among non-adults.”