Local Television In 2018: More News On The Go

Editor's Note: This was submitted by Nielsen to replace an earlier version that was submitted by mistake.

Local news is a vital information lifeline serving our local communities. It provides important and engaging content that viewers rely on throughout their busy day.  How that local news is consumed and delivered might evolve over the next five years, but there is no question it will be the strong foundation of the local TV business. 

As viewers continue to acquire tablets and smartphones, there will be ample opportunity to deliver more news to the engaged and mobile viewer.  The television continues to be the primary source for local news, while mobile screens can serve as a complement. The busy, commuting viewer will consume more information on all screens, and we believe there are more opportunities to connect with these viewers.



Television stations could increase their content on mobile platforms for news delivery, allowing consumers additional access to what’s going on in their communities and expanding opportunities for revenue growth.

What is driving this change? Consumers. Audience behavior is changing as consumers look to get the local scoop on multiple platforms and screens.

Here are potential ways to engage the mobile viewer:

1) Growth of Smartphones & Tablets:  Today, national penetration of tablets is already over 30% on a household basis and the national penetration of smartphones is over 60%. Those numbers will continue to grow, and as those screens become more prevalent, audiences will look for the news they trust from their local TV station.

Within those mobile screens, it will most likely be an app-centric experience. Already today, apps represent 87% of time spent on smartphones and 76% time spent on tablets. To keep up with the proliferation of screens where TV content is available, Nielsen is ramping up its efforts in mobile measurement over the next year.  Digestible, mobile-friendly pieces that are updated continuously throughout the day will be attractive to the mobile, commuting viewer. Already, four out of the five apps used on a national basis in the news category are weather apps – highlighting the importance of local content. Mobile content delivery from local TV stations, which already have compelling local news, weather, sports, and traffic, could appeal to a wide audience as these mobile devices continue to proliferate. 

2) Interaction Through Social Media: Local television stations have a great platform to connect with social media outlets that commonly post or re-tweet local news stories. The use of the “follow us on Facebook” and tracking tweets are ways to further engage the viewer, and local TV has the content and outlets to drive social engagement.

One indicator that social media and television might be complementary platforms appears when we examine "media time spent" data. The average person in the U.S. watched 4 hours and 23 minutes of live television per day in Q2 2009. Four years later, after Facebook and Twitter have experienced strong user growth, the average person watched 4 hours and 19 minutes of live television per day in Q2 2013. Not only is television consumption virtually unchanged when measured on a linear basis – but it is possible that the average person in the U.S. is likely watching more live TV when tuning in via unmeasured mobile devices is factored in. The steadiness of television consumption highlights television’s resilience and its ability to adapt to new forms of technology that engage the viewer. A local station’s unparalleled local news assets will help strengthen its ties to the audience when they spend time on social platforms.

Local stations know their communities better than anyone else, and they provide an important and vital public service.  The local news hour that we watch at home is everywhere, even in your pocket, throughout the day, from your local TV station.

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