Weather, Climate Drive Most Out-Of-Market Viewers To Local Streaming Newscasts
Weather and climate-related stories and high school sports are the leading drivers of out-of-market viewers to local streaming newscasts in 2021 according to data released by Gray Television-backed VUit, a free, ad-supported national streaming service aiming to be the “Netflix of Live, Local, and free.” The platform, which carries more than 200 local station newscasts covering 83% of the nation’s DMAs, has seen its viewership minutes triple in the past year, as viewers have turned to the platform with an increased appetite for a true local lens and perspective into major news and cultural events of interest to them outside of their current hometown.
According to VUit’s 2021 year-end data, news stories about the weather and climate-related events were the biggest drivers for viewers to stream local newscasts on its platform this year. Seven of the top nine most-watched news events on VUit were weather related with Hurricane Ida driving the largest lift of any specific weather event to local station newscasts, followed by the multi-state tornado event Dec. 10, with other winter storms, and West Coast fires also being of great interest to viewers to tune into newsstreams outside of their current hometown.
Beyond hard news, high school sports and high school graduations streamed on VUit were highly appealing to audiences across the country. For example, WYMT Lexington, Ky., attracted viewers from close to 60 markets for their broadcast of high school sports events. Meanwhile Linn Mar High School’s graduation stream from KCRG Cedar Rapids, Iowa, reached well beyond that state to viewers in 65 markets.
The most-watched television station on VUit this year is KTSF San Francisco. The broadcaster, in existence for more than four decades, provides local programming to viewers in a variety of Asian languages. Outside of San Francisco, the station attracts a significant proportion of viewers from several top markets, led by Los Angeles; Las Vegas; Seattle-Tacoma, Wash.; San Diego, Monterey-Salinas, Calif.; and Portland, Ore.
After KTSF, the next most-watched stations were:
- WFMZ Philadelphia – Maranatha Broadcasting
- WWTV Traverse City, Mich. – Heritage Broadcasting
- WAFB Baton Rouge – Gray Television
- WVUE New Orleans – Gray Television
- WKYT Lexington, Ky. – Gray Television
- WSAZ Charleston/Huntington, W.Va. – Gray Television
- WLUC Marquette, Mich. – Gray Television
- KTUU Anchorage – Gray Television
- WJRT Flint/Saginaw/Bay City, Mich. – Gray Television
Jack Perry, CEO and Founder of Syncbak, said: “On VUit, we are making it easy to get news where you are at, where you are from, where you are going and where news is breaking. As the viewers shift to OTT, we see it as our job to connect broadcasters, viewers, and advertisers and the plan is clearly working.”
The most popular news stories on VUit were primarily weather and climate-related (not in ranked order except for Hurricane Ida and the Multi-State Tornado event, which are first and second, respectively):
- Hurricane Ida in August (WVUE-TV, WAFB-TV, WLBT-TB, WLOX-TV & KPLC-TV)
- Multi-State Tornado Event (WAVE-TV, KAIT-TV, WBKO-TV)
- Georgia Senate runoff election in January (WGCL-TV)
- Winter Storm Orlena late January/early February (WFMZ-TV)
- Extreme winter weather in Texas in February (KWTX-TV & KFDA-TV)
- Extreme weather in Alabama in March (WALA-TV, WAFF-TV, & WVRC-TV)
- Iditarod Sled Dog Race in March (KTUU-TV)
- Flooding in Louisiana in May (WVUE-TV)
- Schroeder Fire in Rapid City, SD in March (KEVN-TV)
The most popular pieces of content on the platform outside of hard news were high school sports and high school graduations.
- High school basketball from Kentucky on March 22, March 23, March 26, and March 27. (WYMT)
- Michigan High School All-Star Softball game July 14 (WWTV)
- Freddy Awards (high school performing arts awards) (WFMZ)
- Chinese New Year (KTSF)
- Linn Mar High School Graduation (KCRG)
- Kennedy High School Graduation (KCRG)
- Friday Night Lights (High School Football—Thursday Edition) (KCRG)
- High School Girls Basketball March 25th and March 27 (WYMT)
- Jefferson High School Graduation (KCRG)
- Washington High School Graduation (KCRG)
- Onaway Speedway Steer the World 100 July 10 (WWTV)
- Traverse City Fireworks (WWTV)
The local sports/cultural events that drove the most out-of-market viewership on the platform are:
- Iditarod Sled Dog race reached viewers in 178 markets. (KTUU)
- Linn Mar High School Graduation reached viewers in 65 markets. (KCRG)
- High school basketball from Kentucky reached viewers in 59 markets. (WYMT)
- Michigan High School All-Star softball reached viewers in 58 markets. (WWTV)
- Kennedy High School Graduation reached viewers in 53 markets. (KCRG)
The cities with the most viewers logging onto VUit for local news content include San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, Philadelphia, Traverse City-Cadillac, Wilkes Barre-Scranton-Hztn, Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, New York, Lexington, Flint-Saginaw-Bay City, Marquette, and Charleston-Huntington.
VUit carries more than 200 local TV channels along with a range of themed curated feature channels across politics, sports, food, business, entertainment and culture. VUit’s roster of stations covers 174 of 210 total local markets nationwide.