Younger Viewers Watch More Local TV, Given COVID-19 News

Younger millennials are watching more local TV news. Well, you have to start somewhere.

Analysis from the TVB, the local TV advertising trade group, is touting rising young viewership for all local TV newscasts — all something to cheer about when mulling future TV users.

The first two weeks of March witnessed 52% and 84% higher 18-34 impressions for all Monday to Friday local TV news in the top 25 markets -- to 4.22 million for Nielsen live program and 4.85 for live program plus-same-day impressions, respectively. That's versus the same two-week period a year ago.

Just looking at evening news for the same period and markets, there are even better results — up 67% (2.4 million) and 106% higher (2.7 million) impressions for the first two weeks of March

But what happens six, eight, or 10 months from now after COVID-19 issues lessen -- and restaurants, movie and retail businesses, where young millennials work or frequent, re-open?



At that time, local TV newscasts would need to redefine what kind of news content -- as well as how it is presented and structured -- can sustain those viewers.

Here’s why: We know millennials continue to gravitate to news consumption from many digital sites -- especially social media. That happens despite widespread public awareness that news via social media might offer iffy, if not downright false, news.

Not saying this is a blueprint. But consider how Vice News handles its content on traditional cable TV networks. Are younger presenters and reporters (sans the requisite shirt and ties and other staid news-wear) perhaps a better, more accessible choice?

Content? Perhaps that could be altered, as well. But that may have more to do with attitude and accessibility.

We know how important senior TV news viewers are to TV advertisers -- 25-54s, as well as older viewers groups. Are there lessons to be learned -- any positive stuff -- from digital media sites/video platforms that can be adapted to local TV stations newscasts?

Higher viewing among younger demos for local TV news content shouldn’t just be pegged to a major once-in-a-lifetime crisis.

3 comments about "Younger Viewers Watch More Local TV, Given COVID-19 News".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 26, 2020 at 11:03 a.m.

    Wayne, "senior" news viewers are not aged 25-54. The core audience of just about every TV news show is adults aged 55+. The 25-54 "demo" is merely an audience guarantee metric, decided upon long ago when the middle aged groups were still fairly big news viewers and carried forward today for no good reason but being consistent with the ancient past. As for millennials becoming big TV news viewers there's as much chance of that happening either now or later as me being named King Of England---and nobody has been calling me "your highness" recently.

  2. Suzanne Sell from Independent, March 26, 2020 at 2:58 p.m.

    True that, Ed! And the landscape has been further diced up by the number of local news programs stations offer each day. Different time periods attract different genders, people with different daily work patterns, etc. In some markets, I've seen more middle-age (Gen X) viewers in very early morning because of work and traffic issues. Millennials? Not really.

  3. Suzanne Sell from Independent, March 26, 2020 at 4:22 p.m.

    That said, I'm sure that news viewing by millennials has risen while everyone has been less active than usual. Although millennials got off to a slow start, they are marrying, buying houses, and having children and jobs. But their news habits never have been the same as those of their predecessors. I doubt that younger news anchors and reporters will make a difference to them, when so many alternatives are literally in hand. 

    At the same time, I'm seeing local stations grapple with the current situation by allowing anchors and reporters to present material from their homes. It's a bit awkward, but more casual. Who knows--this might catch on.

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