These past eight months have been unlike any other period we’ve experienced as Americans. We’ve navigated the challenges of COVID-19, civil unrest and protests over social and racial injustice, unpredictable storms and wildfires, and just recently, one of the most divisive presidential elections in history.
And through it all, Americans have turned to their local broadcast stations more than any other media to get the news from the source they trust above all else.
Broadcast television is the local news go-to medium for millions of viewers. In any given week, local TV news reaches the most viewers with the typical adult watching more than seven hours of news per week.
And during this time of uncertainty, it is not surprising that viewers’ appetite for the fact-based news their local TV broadcasters provide has increased tremendously: overall weekly news viewing is up nearly one hour and 20 minutes compared to last September.
The October 2020 Nielsen Local Watch Report reveals an interesting snapshot of these viewers — that of a growing, younger and diverse demographic.
Not only have local TV newscasts attracted more overall viewers than the network or cable newscasts across all age groups, news viewing by younger audiences (18-34) has increased by 134% from 2019 to 2020.
In addition to seeing a huge increase in the number of younger viewers, the Nielsen report notes local TV news’ growing audience of minorities and older viewers, crystalizing the public service broadcast TV stations provide to underserved audiences.
TV news audiences are becoming more multicultural with the most growth in viewership coming from Asian, Hispanic and Black American viewers. Black Americans watch more news than other ethnic groups – over 10.5 hours per week, or 1.5 hours per day in the second quarter of the year.
Broadcast news also super-serves lower income viewers who may have fewer news viewing options. Local broadcast station signals are free to anyone with an over-the-air antenna. More than 40% of all viewing of local TV news is from viewers with a household income below $50,000.As working remotely has increasingly become the new norm for many in the workforce, so has the number of remote workers watching local TV news seeking a connection to their local community. Sixty-four percent say that they engage with local TV news on a regular basis during work hours.
As viewers continue to navigate this unsettling time, they look to their trusted local TV news teams to provide them with up-to-date and meaningful information that’s relevant to their lives. Beyond the pandemic, broadcasters will continue to innovate and evolve with their growing audiences, ensuring they will always be there for them anytime, anywhere they are needed most.