The Importance of Broadcast TV in Local News Consumption

The methods used to consume local news have changed over time from newspapers, to television, to the Internet on our computers, to carrying the news around with us 24/7 on smartphones in our pockets. With all of these options available to consumers, the question is raised, “How do consumers access local news in an increasingly digital world?” A recent study conducted by Pew Research Center reveals that local broadcast TV is still the leading source for local news consumption.

One might assume, in the digital world we live in, that broadcast TV might be utilized at an equal or lesser rate when compared to other online alternatives. However, the results of the study clearly indicate that local broadcast TV is still a staple used by consumers to access local news. According to the study, Denver, CO has over 140 identified news providers including newspapers, online news sites, radio stations, TV stations, etc., yet 58% of the city’s residents rely on local TV stations for their news. Macon, GA and Sioux City, IA, smaller cities included in the research with fewer news providers, had even more reliance on TV for local news coming in at 66% and 68% respectively. Local TV is the single most visible presence in the local news space.

What makes local TV so resilient to the increased competition of local news coverage?

At Sorenson Media, we know that TV works. It works as a business, it works for advertisers, and it works for viewers. Even with hundreds of local news options available, viewers continue to tune in to local new broadcasts for a number of reasons:

Viewers TRUST their local broadcast TV stations

In many cases, local TV stations have been around for years and have established a level of credibility and trust within the community. Online, it can be difficult for a local resident to know which online source to trust with different satire news sites popping up all the time. I’ve seen far too many cases on social media where people share a story from a satire news site such as The Onion along with a comment that makes it very apparent that they mistook the article for actual news. Local broadcasters have earned the respect and trust of news seekers over the course of time.

Local news can be consumed PASSIVELY via local TV

Viewers are able to catch up on local news with minimal effort via local TV news broadcasts. TV does not require searching, reading, or any active effort on the viewer’s part other than pressing a button to turn the TV on and changing the channel to their favorite local news broadcast. A local newscast can easily be viewed while drinking a morning coffee, while getting the kids ready for school, while preparing dinner in the evening, or while relaxing in bed before going to sleep. Watching the news on TV is easy.

Local broadcast news is LIVE and HYPER-LOCAL

Viewers have become accustomed to turning on the TV and getting the latest news specific to their local area. Local stories can be difficult to find online in a timely manner, especially live, local breaking news. Viewers that want to know what is happening in their neighborhood tune in to local news on the television. News, such as traffic reports, is much easier to view by watching local TV with live traffic cameras than having to search online before the viewer rushes out the door in the morning.

As I referenced above, we know that TV works. This is why we’ve developed our SPARK range of Smart Broadcast products – to help broadcasters & advertisers understand how TV works best for them and for their customers. Our goal is to arm local broadcasters with tools to better understand their viewers and to provide them with improved, more engaging content experiences. Many would have you believe that digital and broadcast are two disparate and competing worlds. With products such as SPARK however, we bring the power of digital media to broadcast TV; we call this Smart Broadcast, and it adds the best of digital such as data, interactivity, and personalization to the enormous reach and impact of broadcast television.

Ryan Walker
Ryan Walker
Director of Marketing
Ryan has over 7 years of marketing experience including digital marketing, content marketing, PR, and branding. Outside of work, Ryan is an avid golfer and fly-fisherman.