Local TV News Drops Revenue, Ratings

Local television stations had significant problems in 2008 in declining advertising revenue, and one of the main revenue drivers -- local TV newscasts -- continued to lose viewers.

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.



3 comments about "Local TV News Drops Revenue, Ratings".
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  1. William Hughes from Arnold Aerospace, March 30, 2009 at 12:08 p.m.

    I don't read Newspapers or watch the Evening News anymore. The Headlines are just too depressing. Nothing but Doom, Gloom and Politics. If there is any news I wish to read I can get it here on the Internet anyways, so I don't really have a need for the other two anymore.

  2. John Grono from GAP Research, March 30, 2009 at 4:50 p.m.

    I didn't realise that the Internet doesn't have "Doom, Gloom and Politics" news stories. Thanks for alerting me to the fact William.

  3. Robyn Brooking from BMC, April 7, 2009 at 1:43 p.m.

    Quite contrary to the recent Hearst-Argyle research Frank Magid published which showed "99%" of respondents are turning to local news as much or more often due to economic conditions. Given that the study also claims local news as the principal revenue-generator for most local broadcasters, carries a higher level of engagement than 'traditional' media options, and is viewed as the most important news source, I guess the only conclusion is that quantities may be declining but quality of viewers is on the rise.

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