Nielsen: Local TV News Viewing Rising Due To COVID-19

Local TV news consumption has seen steadily higher viewing over the past two weeks as more people of all ages are now either working from home or doing online schoolwork at home due to the COVID-19 virus, according to Nielsen.

Viewership in the top 25 markets witnessed an overall 7% hike for persons 2 years of age and older for the week of March 9 versus the week of Feb. 3.  Among key news viewers for advertisers -- 25- to-54-year-olds -- the increase was 10%.

Research comes from Nielsen's live program-plus-same day time-shifted measure among local TV stations -- ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, Telemundo, Univision, and The CW affiliates, as well as the top independent in each market.

Nielsen’s Local People Meter (LPM) markets are 25 of the largest local markets as defined by Nielsen’s local TV household universe estimates.

Nielsen says that since March 9, the closure of businesses and schools has forced people to work or learn from home. This has also resulted from many executive orders from state governments to stay at home.

School closings are a major reason, Nielsen revealed, that local TV news viewing among younger persons ages 2-17 was up by 20%.

The biggest individual market gains over that month period were: San Francisco (38.1%); Orlando (26.1%); Los Angeles (25.3%); Seattle (25.3%); and Boston (22.6%). New York, the biggest U.S. market, was up 12.8%.

Nielsen also notes there have been rising shares for 25- to-54-year-olds -- a key selling demographic for advertisers -- across all kinds of programming genres.

Among people who watch major broadcast networks in the top 25 Nielsen markets, for the week of March 9, local TV news' share of 25-54 viewing for all quarter-hours rose to 30.4% (from 25.7%); scripted drama to 14.4% (from 11.8%); participation variety programming, 6.5% (from 4.7%); comedy, 5.0% (from 4.4%) and film, 1.2% (from 0.6%)

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