TVB Analysis: Top TV Market Bests Cable News National Audience;

Top 10 Markets Dwarf Cable’s National and In-Market News

Amid the omnipresence of national 24-hour cable news branding, the tried and true local broadcast news appears to have lost its salience – or has it? Sitting in the center of a metropolis like New York or Los Angeles, it’s pretty easy for media professionals to forget the value and importance of local news. These cities are the seat of television networks with national and even global footprints, so what is local to New York can often be national or even global news. But for audiences not very far from these cities, localism is decidedly prominent and local TV news anchors are major personalities in whom the public trusts. And despite its global character, even the largest city in the United States – New York – leans local when it comes to broadcast news.

A Pew Research Center Report released last month indicated that local broadcast news programming has the highest positive rating for credibility when compared to cable news outlets. TVB further investigated this claim, seeking to prove that local broadcast news not only had strength in credibility, but also in numbers. Looking at the most recent May 2012 sweep period (4/26/12-5/23/12), TVB compared the primetime audience delivery of the national cable news networks (6p – 12 midnight) against the early and late local broadcast news in the #1, Top 3 and Top 10 measured U.S. markets. The numbers speak for themselves.

National-Sized Delivery In The Space Of One Market

How strong is local broadcast news? One single market – New York - outpaces the aggregate national audience of the five cable news networks combined. Expanding to just the Top 3 U.S. television markets, local broadcast news has a 168% advantage, and across all Top 10 markets the multiple approaches nearly 5X cable’s national audience (+434%).

Local Broadcast TV News Dwarfs National Delivery of Cable News Networks

Local Broadcast TV News Dwarfs National Delivery of Cable News Networks

Source: TVB analysis of Nielsen Media Research Data, Live+SD. May 2012 (4/26/12– 5/23/12). Early and Late News Local Broadcast for English Language and Hispanic Networks. Cable News Networks include CNBC, CNN, FXNC, HLN, MSNBC.

In-Market Dominance

Looking at each of the Top 10 Local markets individually, a more dominant picture of local broadcast news emerges. TVB aggregated all primetime cable and local evening news impressions in each market and found that the 5 cable news networks contributed only 3 – 8% of the evening news audience in each of the Top 10 markets.

Local Broadcast News Delivers the Lion’s Share of In-Market News Viewers

Local Broadcast News Delivers the Lion’s Share of In-Market News Viewers
Source: TVB analysis of Nielsen Media Research Data, Live+SD.  May 2012 (4/26/12– 5/23/12). Early and Late News Local Broadcast for English Language and Hispanic Networks. Cable News Networks include CNBC, CNN, FXNC, HLN, MSNBC.

Shades of Gray

Local broadcast news is not only perceived to be more balanced in its news coverage (Pew Study), but it is also more balanced in its audience composition. According to a recent TVB analysis, among core 35+ year-old news viewers, the aggregate audience for early and late local evening news in the Top 10 TV markets had 38% of adults between the ages of 35 and 54 and 62% over 55. The cable news audience, in contrast, was significantly older with 77% of its audience members over the age of 55.

The Graying of National Cable News: Haven to Older American Viewers


Source: TVB analysis of Nielsen Media Research Data, Live+SD.  May 2012 (4/26/12– 5/23/12). Early and Late News Local Broadcast for English Language and Hispanic Networks. Cable News Networks include CNBC, CNN, FXNC, HLN, MSNBC.
 

Unparalleled Advantage

Compared with national cable primetime news networks, the reach and composition advantages of local broadcast news are clear:

  • Local broadcast news can match the national audience size of cable news networks in a single market – and quickly multiply the national delivery within the Top 10 U.S. television markets.
  • Cable news delivery in local markets is dwarfed by the dominance of local broadcast news, contributing 8% of in-market news impressions at best.
  • Local broadcast news has a more balanced audience composition, offering marketers opportunities to reach consumers more closely aligned with their incidence in the population.
 
 
 

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