More Americans Turn to Local TV News During Global Pandemic
New Dynata Study Finds that Broadcast TV is Most Trusted News Source Among All Adults, Irrespective of Age
NEW YORK, April 13, 2020 – At a time when reliable information is vital, Americans are overwhelmingly looking to local broadcast TV news and feel it is the most trusted source for COVID-19 updates. Four out of five U.S. adults (83%) trust their local news stations over national network news (78%) and cable news channels (71%), such as CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. These are topline findings from the Dynata Coronavirus Media Usage Study conducted April 1-7 of 10,000+ adults, 18 years and older, across 10 states, many of which have been the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic – California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Texas, and Washington. The study was released by the Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB), a not-for-profit trade association.
Broadcast TV is even reaching more younger adults than social media as they seek information on coronavirus. Among those 18- to 34-year-olds, broadcast TV had significantly more reach (79%) compared to social media (63%) and cable TV (32%). 81% of these young adults trust local broadcast TV news.
The survey, conducted by Dynata, a global expert in online market research data, revealed:
- Broadcast TV is most relied upon for coronavirus news. Respondents were asked which sources give the best information and updates on the coronavirus as it pertains to preventive procedures, closures, cancellations, and local regulations. The top answer was broadcast TV news according to a majority of U.S. adults (54%), which is double the amount who selected cable news (27%) and more than triple the amount who selected government websites (15%).
- Trust for local news extends to online. More adults (71%) trust local TV news websites/ apps compared to network broadcast news websites/ apps (69%) and cable news websites/ apps (67%). In fact, when asked why they use local broadcast stations’ websites/ apps, trust was the primary reason with more than half of U.S. adults (53%) selecting it.
- Adults in the U.S. want local information during a global crisis. When asked why they watch local broadcast TV news, two out of three adults (67%) said they want information that pertains to the area they live in.
“Local news anchors and reporters are trusted members of our communities, so now more than ever viewers are turning to local TV news for the updates that will keep them safe,” said Steve Lanzano, President and CEO of TVB. “In times of crisis, Americans want information most relevant to them, like updates on public and medical services, school and business closings, and public transit. Their local TV stations are delivering that in a profound way.”
Broadcast TV Viewership Surges
The Coronavirus Media Usage Study comes on the heels of TVB’s recent analysis of Nielsen data that further demonstrates how the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted media consumption.
TVB analyzed broadcast TV viewership for March 2020 compared to March 2019 across ABC, CBS, CW, Fox, NBC, Telemundo and Univision in the top 25 TV markets. Among key demos and dayparts, there was a strong increase in broadcast TV viewing. Notably, even without sporting events, live viewing was up.
Among the elusive 18-34 demographic, local news viewership increased throughout March, peaking at a 162% increase the third week of March, notably reversing the trend of younger viewers moving away from TV news. Impressions among adults 25-54, the primary demographic watching local news, also rose +78%.
Traffic to Local News Websites Soars
The Dynata study also revealed that adults have more trust in their local TV stations’ news websites and apps than broadcast network and cable TV counterparts, as well as social media. TVB also analyzed TV station website and app usage data during March. Across Nexstar’s 114 markets, pageviews were up +87.5% in March versus January. And in Baltimore, Hearst’s WBAL website pageviews increase by 123% in March 2020 versus March 2019 as the pandemic reached critical levels.
TVB is the not-for-profit trade association representing America’s local broadcast television industry. Its members include individual television stations, television broadcast groups, advertising sales reps, syndicators, international broadcasters and associate members.
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Abby Auerbach, TVB
Naylet Aguayo, DGC