Can multi-platform weather turn a viewership bump into a long-term trend?
Ask any TV meteorologist about their work during a global pandemic that has shut down economies and forced millions of people to shelter at home, and they’re likely to tell you: they’re serving as respite.
“People are craving normalcy,” said Kevin Eubank, chief meteorologist at KSL-TV Salt Lake City.
Danielle Breezy, chief meteorologist at WKRN-TV Nashville, agrees. “Viewers tune in to get the latest news about how the coronavirus is affecting their community, but they need a break, and weather forecasts are providing it.”
Eubank and Breezy, both adept at engaging audiences not just on TV but also on mobile, social and the web, have been tinkering with their approach to make sure they are engaging the flood of new and mostly younger viewers who have been swelling TV and digital audiences since their communities locked down to restrain infection rates.
They’ll be talking about their strategies during a TVNewsCheck webinar, Turn a Viewership Bump into a Long-Term Trend, on June 4 at 1 p.m. ET. Register here.
A Rise in Viewer Trust
Local TV news ratings have nearly doubled since the period just before the coronavirus, according to Nielsen. Consumer research by SmithGeiger also shows news audiences now trust local TV as their “No. 1 source for information about keeping safe.”
Younger viewers in particular are responding to a more audience-centric stance TV stations are taking, said SmithGeiger Co-Founder Seth Geiger, in an April interview with TVNewsCheck. They see stations as “going beyond reporting and extending into solutions and looking out for you,” Geiger said.
Geiger added that the route to maintaining this level of relevance when the pandemic eases lies in digital.
Viewers will eventually return to jobs and more normal schedules and they won’t be around for newscasts at 4, 5 and 6 p.m., he said, suggesting that stations promote their digital platforms as a way to stay on top of news.
Beating the Installed Smartphone App
Weather, already the most popular topic of local newscasts and a key driver of local news app usage, may offer a way to cement the loyalty of new and younger viewers.
“Seventy percent of consumers say weather is important for their daily lives,” said Rodney Thompson, senior strategist at The Weather Company, an IBM business. At the same time, however, 70% of people aged 18-34 get their weather forecasts from the apps that come installed on their phones.
The pandemic offers an opportunity for local broadcasters to convince those younger users, with geo-targeted and personalized videos, that there’s a better app in town.
“Kevin and Danielle each have different approaches to engaging new and younger viewers on mobile, social and the web,” said Kathy Haley, TVNewsCheck‘s co-founder and publisher, who will be interviewing them and Thompson on the June 4 webinar.
“They’ll be talking about those and they’ll also address workflow, an important challenge for meteorologists and other newscasters trying to engage consumers on so many different platforms.”
The three will also share monetization strategies. “We have to diversify the revenue stream,” Eubank said. “We can’t continue to rely just on the 30-second spot.”
To join the webinar, please register here.