Rentrak, a growing TV measurement service, says viewing just before Hurricane Sandy sparked stronger-than-usual daytime viewing in the New York
market -- only to drop well below averages during prime time when the storm hit.
Surveying its some 90,000 homes in its sample, Rentrak says the homes using television (HUTs) on the day of the storm -- Oct. 29 -- were at a 50% level at 9 p.m., rising to 55% at 5:15 p.m. on Oct. 29.
This compares with the week before on October 22, with daytime homes-using-television viewing of
39% at 9 p.m. dropping to around 36% for most of the day -- then rising to around 55% at 5:15 p.m., the beginning time of the usual steadily growing higher TV usage.
But on the day of the storm, after around 5:15 p.m. -- when the storm would have a major effect and knock out electricity to some 8 million homes in the region -- TV usage remained around the 50% mark until 9 p.m., far lower than under normal conditions.
By way of comparison, the week before -- a normal viewing day -- witnessed sharp, rising HUTs growing to 97% by 9 p.m.
Bruce Goerlich, chief research officer of Rentrak, stated: "Rentrak's 'big data' approach means that we can continue to report and avoid going black, even in areas hit by extreme weather. Our dependability is a huge differentiator for our clients."
For its part, Nielsen -- which local and national advertisers depend on for current ratings data for their media buys -- said the storm so severely disrupted its viewing collection operations that it would not be releasing complete TV data for November for the New York market. A number of major East Coast markets could also be affected.