Local TV News Viewing Trends May Threaten Ad Revenue

The more local TV stations load up their day parts with news,  the less people want to tune in. Only a few years interviewago, local news was a solid way for local TV operators to generate revenue. Executives knew they could sell the attentive audience to advertisers, but with viewership dropping, local TV companies will need to make some changes.

The Pew Research Center reports that the audience for local news is eroding. In the last year, the population that regularly watches these programs dropped to 48%. And, in an indication of what the future holds, only 28% of consumers under age 30 tune into the local news. That number marks a significant drop from the 42% who watched in 2006.

By day part, the drop in audience is as follows:

  • Morning 4.6%
  • Early evening 6.7%
  • Late night 7.4%

However, stations have had some success expanding their very early morning news broadcasts and viewership of these programs, sometimes starting as early at 4:00 a.m. are up 13%.  In addition, local TV concerns are mixing up the content they offer. For the most part, they cover far more weather, sports and breaking news topics than they have in the past. This type of reporting and content is often also available online.

The overall decrease doesn’t bode well for local TV station ad revenue. About 48% of a station’s revenue generally comes from the advertising that runs during local news programs.

TV stations are working to develop digital sources of revenue but so far, those formats only contribute 3% to the total. Operators will likely be tweaking their program mix to try to differentiate themselves to viewers and marketers.

To learn more about Local News Watchers, check out the Audience Interests & Intent Report available on the Research Store at ad​-ology​.com.

[Source: Malone, Michael. Local TV Viewing Declines Across the Board. 18 Mar. 2013. Web. 27 Mar. 2013] 
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.