The reality is that more people are consuming local news content across more hours and across additional station platforms. Station websites have become the online choice for local news and weather. And, possibly the most significant expansion of on-demand news is now underway with direct broadcasting to mobile screens — mobile DTV.
We live in a nonfiction world. Reality television has become such a big part of our lives that it’s hard not to at least have a passing idea who the latest American Idol is, or which Stars are Dancing, or at least name a Survivor or two. But there’s another type of reality television that’s much more personal to viewers — and has a more direct impact upon the reality of their daily lives.
“What news events will impact me today?” “What happened in the political town hall meeting last night?” “Will road construction delay my commute this morning?” We’re talking about local news. Reality before reality was cool. And it’s giving new meaning to the concept of “on-demand” programming. Not to be confused with VOD, with its proliferation of reruns and reprisals, local news is arguably the only real-time, real-world, on-demand programming that is shaping our own realities on a daily basis. And by all indications, it’s stronger than ever.
A record amount of local news was produced by media outlets over this past year, and TV stations are being cited as the top television news choice for viewers across the country. Pew Research’s The State of the News Media 2011 reports that half of all Americans say they watch local news regularly, and feel they have more choices than ever of when and where to watch it.
A total of 968 TV stations are on the air with local news. Airtime has increased 20% on average since 2007 and has taken us through presidential elections, dictator collapses, a recession, earthquakes, hurricanes, plus all of the positive news that we can get our hands on to remind us that life in our communities is still pretty good.
The average number of news telecast hours has increased to four-and-a-half hours per weekday in the top 25 markets. Markets 26-100 are averaging six-plus hours per day. Some stations are even producing more than eight hours of news per day to meet audience demands.
One of the biggest stories in 2010 was the growth of early morning news on local stations. The number of markets with a 4:30 a.m. newscast more than doubled over 2009, and the audience for these newscasts has grown exponentially. According to Pew Research, news viewership increased 70% from 4:30 to 5 a.m. in November 2010 vs. November 2009. Many stations also opted to replace syndication at 4 p.m. with an additional hour of news/lifestyle hybrid programming, expanding the traditional evening news time period. And, for the audience that isn’t home in time for early evening news, a 7 p.m. local telecast is allowing additional opportunity for viewers to get their local news fix in some markets.
The reality is that more people are consuming local news content across more hours and across additional station platforms. Station websites have become the online choice for local news and weather.
More than 90% of stations are connecting to viewers now through social media. News-centric content on digital subchannels is growing in popularity and gaining traction in the ratings. And, possibly the most significant expansion of on-demand news is now underway with direct broadcasting to mobile screens — mobile DTV.
The sea change is happening. Have a screened device? It is soon to become a de facto TV set, quenching the growing thirst for news when and how viewers want it.
What does this mean for advertisers? The bottom line is they’ve never had more opportunity to connect with local consumers through one of the most sought-after programming genres. More news hours translates to more ad inventory, particularly for the upcoming political season.
Studies consistently show that advertising in local news is considered more persuasive and trusted. News viewers are savvy consumers with upscale profiles and value-conscious loyalty. Local broadcasters offer custom campaign solutions that stand out from “one-size-fits-all” national media. They connect with consumers where they live, in their own personal realities. The time is now to maximize ad sales on local news platforms.
Local News is the ultimate reality program, on demand by viewers and advertisers alike.
I wouldn’t miss it. Hand me the remote.
Carrie Hart is TVB’s vice president of strategic planning. All about sales and advertising, Sales Office appears once a month in TVNewsCheck through the cooperation of the TVB, which solicits the columns from its staff and members. To see all the columns in the series, click here.