Local News Tops In Driving Conversations

A TVB survey finds that TV is three times more likely to spark discussion than digital media and local TV news is a bigger conversation starter than both network and cable news.

Despite all the talk of social media, local TV apparently sparks more conversations than its competitors —and the vast majority of them actually take place in person.

“We may feel like we’re living in an over-digitized world of communication — and we are — but the truth is that most people have their conversations face-to-face,” TVB research chief Stacey Lynn Schulman said Wednesday.

Speaking at the TVB Forward conference in New York, Schulman said that that a national survey the organization conducted in April shows that 77% of daily conversations take place in person, versus 8% via digital media and 15% on the phone.

In addition, the survey, which analyzed 9,000 everyday conversations, also showed that “news actually dominates our conversation throughout the day,” she said, with 82% of respondents saying they discuss at least the weather every day.

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Local TV news is responsible for spurring much of that conversation, she said. TV is three times more likely to spark discussion than digital media, the survey found.

“We can be sourcing conversations people are having throughout the day,” she said.


Local TV news is also a bigger conversation starter than both network and cable news. About 25% of the conversations involving news topics were spurred by local newscasts, versus 17% started by broadcast network news and 11% by cable.

Schulman said other facets of the study attest to the power of local news, too. For instance, the survey found that local news sparked more conversation than any other programming, including network primetime.

Schulman used the survey to expand the conversation to other ways broadcasters can foster consumer engagement, such as online and digital media.

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Amy Parrish, digital media director of WTHR Indianapolis, demonstrated how “the power of the Internet” made one particular investigative story, one about the IRS issuing improper tax credits, go from being a local story to a national one.

But quality matters, she said. “It’s not just high [volume of] content, it’s unique content.”

Nielsen’s Matt O’Grady said local broadcasters soon will have more opportunity to monetize that engagement. Nielsen will soon make available coding that will allow local broadcasters to track use of their mobile phone and tablet apps, which will be a selling point to advertisers.

“We want to monetize assets and take advantage of the buzz,” he said.

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