OOH Data Shows College Students Glued To Supreme Court Hearings

The recent Supreme Court hearings for Brett Kavanaugh not only sparked greater in-home TV viewing for news, but a surge in out-of-home viewing as well. Paul Lindstrom, head of research and analytics, Tunity, shared his company’s data with me and we discussed the insights drawn from it.

Lindstorm believes the Kavanaugh hearing is a great illustration of OOH having the ability to draw all types of viewers in who might not normally view news on TV or not necessarily be watching news OOH.  Notably, he referred to the tenfold upswing of viewing in colleges and airports and said CNN viewing skewed much younger. 

Charlene Weisler: Overall, how did the full Kavanaugh hearings do OOH? What were the overall takeaways?

Paul Lindstrom: Overall, the Thursday session of the Kavanaugh Hearing averaged 4,035,400 OOH viewers according to Tunity Analytics for the full 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. duration. The highest overall usage occurred during the first portion of Kavanaugh’s testimony… and returned to nearly the same level following a drop during his break.



Weisler: Overall, how did the hearings rank among all Tunity OOH programs ever?  

Lindstrom: The overall OOH average viewing levels for the Thursday full session were comparable to what we have seen for the Conference Finals of the NBA Playoffs. This is pretty remarkable, given the weekday daytime time period for the hearing versus prime time for the NBA Playoffs…. 

This is the highest audience level for a news event since January of this year, when I began to track this data.

Weisler: How did the hearings do comparatively in the time period?

Lindstrom: In total OOH, usage was up almost 2.5 times indexing at 247 over the same hours from the previous week. CNN and Fox News received the bulk of the OOH increase, indexing 755 week over week for CNN versus 431 for Fox News. 

CNN has historically gotten larger bumps in OOH usage for major news events than Fox News despite Fox News generally having larger OOH audiences on a day-to-day basis.

[The difference] appears to be a curation issue. CNN is more likely to be tuned in at locations that are generally not carrying news during that daypart. 

Both Fox News and CNN brought in substantially younger audiences OOH they normally do. These young audiences found places to tune in.

Weisler: What OOH venues did the best?

Lindstrom: I think that this is a question that can be answered in two ways. First, the location with the largest degree of OOH viewing of the hearing on CNN was offices. This was followed by bars/restaurants — and, interestingly, airports and gyms. 

The three locations which showed the largest indices for week-over-week changes in overall OOH usage were government buildings, colleges, and airports. 

Regardless of political persuasion, we should all be encouraged to see the large increases for colleges, where viewing was up more than tenfold. 

Airports had a week-over-week index of 825 compared to 247 for all locations, and Government Buildings, not surprisingly, were up 20fold…. 

Weisler: And what about viewing during the voting process and aftermath such as the announcement by Susan Collins?

Lindstrom: On Friday 10/5, the Susan Collins announcement was seen by 2,232,300 OOH viewers on CNN and Fox News combined. This represented an increase of over 1.5 million OOH viewers compared to the hour prior. The audience returned to the normal viewing for the hour following the announcement. CNN accounted for 1,342,000 of the additional audience.

The results of the final vote drew in OOH viewers but not to the same extent as Friday. CNN and Fox News combined for 1,113,000 viewers at the peak of 4 o’clock. This represented an increase of 478,930 over the prior hour for the combination of networks. 

Interestingly, on Saturday the increase in viewership was split nearly evenly between Fox News and CNN. The difference between Friday and Saturday in regards to increase in OOH viewing was almost entirely a result of CNN not getting the same magnitude of boost they did before. 

This is likely a curation issue. CNN has historically gotten the greatest lift for breaking news, as a result of locations that do not normally carry news tune to CNN.  It is reasonable to assume that on the weekend, many locations that do not normally have news on but tune in to CNN for breaking news did not because of the heavier degree of sports programming.

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