What might be particularly galling to TV executives is that in a major news year with a presidential election on the line, local TV news viewership in three of the four sweep periods showed declines.
Ratings dropped an average of 3.1% in February 2008 versus February 2007, 6.9% in July, and 11.4% in November. The lone exception was May, when ratings were up 3.6% from 2007.
Still, according to the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, more than half of the U.S. public -- 52% -- regularly watches local news. But in all time periods -- early evening news, late news, and morning news -- the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press noted that local viewership declined or was flat in 2008, a trend that began two years before.
The positive stories for local TV stations were in the beginning of 2008. In February 2008, the average local TV share was flat versus the previous year. Late news had the same share in May 2008 versus May 2007, while the morning news had no change in the February sweeps.
But July and November went negative. The biggest declines were in late news for TV stations--which declined on average 11.1% in July and 12.5% in November.