Ratings: Broadcast No. 1 Choice In Disasters

A TVB analysis of Rentrak audience data during the weekend of Hurricane Irene shows dramatic ratings spikes for ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC affiliates.

Rentrak Corp.’s Station View Essentials local TV ratings service found that during the August weekend that Hurricane Irene hit the East Coast, local broadcast television news viewing saw increases of up to 78% in household (HH) ratings, especially on Sat., Aug. 27, at 6 p.m. as the storm surged. That’s according to an analysis of the data by TVB.

Despite widespread power outages, Rentrak’s large sample allowed for ample local TV viewing to be measured and reported in the affected markets (see below). Viewing to regularly scheduled newscasts at 9 a.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. on the ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC affiliates in these markets were compared to same time period viewing the previous week. Interestingly, viewing closely matched Hurricane Irene’s approach, peak and passage.






8/26 6 p.m.


8/26  11 p.m.


8/27 9 a.m.


8/27 6 p.m.


8/28 11 p.m.


8/28 9 a.m.


% Increases in Viewership








 “In times of grave concern for the safety and well-being of families as with natural disasters, we continue to see increased viewership on the local broadcast level,” said Steve Lanzano, president-CEO of TVB. “Rentrak’s findings further prove this point and demonstrate the importance of local broadcast television in keeping people informed about the critical events taking place in their community.”

Overwhelmingly, people turned to their local broadcast TV stations for critical news and information rather than the cable news networks, which also tracked the storm. In aggregate, the 12 surveyed markets delivered 279.3 HH ratings during their 11 p.m. newscasts, on Sat., Aug. 27, versus 24.5 aggregate HH ratings, in those same markets, during the same time period by CNN, Fox News Channel, HLN and MSNBC.

Local broadcast TV news was examined in the following 12 markets:  Albany, N.Y.; Boston; Charleston, S.C.; Hartford-New Haven, Conn.; Myrtle Beach-Florence, S.C.; New York; Norfolk-Portsmouth, Va.; Philadelphia; Providence, R.I.-New Bedford, Mass.; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Richmond-Petersburg, Va.; and Washington.

Comments (2)

Leave a Reply

Christina Perez says:

September 21, 2011 at 4:52 pm

If only I could have watched TV. The power failure kept me glued to the radio. Why can’t I find one of these mobile digital hand-held TVs in the stores? These models have gotten great reviews; why aren’t broadcasters pushing this hardware and the mobile ATSC m/h standard? Check this out:

    len Kubas says:

    September 21, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    it must be because you don’t have a credit card and http://www.rcaportabletv.com doesn’t accept cash. By the way, the M/H system has been tested to almost 300 mph.

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