Local News Beats Tent-Pole Programs

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In response to COVID-19, Americans have relied on news outlets more than ever to stay up-to-date with the latest information. It’s no surprise then that March 2020 saw a major rise in broadcast TV viewership, most dramatically in evening news. When it comes to delivering audiences, local broadcast TV news must not be underestimated.

TVB’s recent analysis compared tent-pole TV programs and popular events with the 6pm local news impressions during the third week of March ’20. It showed that even the most talked-about TV programming can’t compete with the power of local broadcast news and its ability to reach audiences.

The Results:

  • A single spot running during the average weekday 6pm local news across the seven network affiliates, delivered 29 million live+1 cumulative A18+ impressions across the 71 Nielsen metered markets (77% of US TV households). Using the same methodology and comparing delivery of other programs in these same 71 markets, the local news was:
  • 3 times that of the 6pm news on the major cable news networks (CNN, FXNC, HLN, MSNBC), which delivered 9.2 million cumulative impressions in the same markets and time period.
    • Exceeded the impressions delivered from the 2020 Academy Awards (22.8M A18+), 2019 College Football Championship (17.9M A18+) and 2019 Big Bang Finale (16.2M A18+).
    • More than double the impressions of special TV event programming during COVID-19, including NFL Draft First Round (12.5M A18+) and the Michael Jordan documentary miniseries, The Last Dance, Night 1 (4.1M A18+). 
  • 30% higher than the combined total of the Walking Dead Season Premiere, The Last Dance, the Orange Bowl, and Monday Night Football.


Source: Nielsen; 6pm Local & Cable News: March 2020 Week 3, Live +1, A18+, program avg for M-F cumed by market for 71 Markets (LPM, SM, CR), Local Broadcast: ABC, CBS, CW, Fox, NBC, Tel, Uni; Cable nets: CNN, FXNC, HLN, MSNBC; Monday Night FTBL = cume of 17 game average.

For more information, please contact Hadassa Gerber, Chief Research Officer, TVB.

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