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Local TV Still the No. 1 News Source

Dec 4, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Local TV is the No. 1 source of news and information among U.S. television viewers, according to Frank N. Magid Associates’ findings in a national survey.

The study, designed to learn how, how often and why people use an assortment of media platforms, was co-authored by Magid’s director of strategic analysis Bryn Burns and senior consultant Laura Clark. They sought information that could help the stations that are Magid TV clients make decisions on how to position themselves in what they call “today’s multiscreen world.”

The findings are meant to help station executives decide when to allocate resources and how to strengthen synergy between local newscasts and their stations’ Web sites.

The best of the good news, Ms. Clark said, is that “We’re still the top choice. The No. 1 business is the one we’re in.”

However, she said, “We have to become information stations. I think that’s where we’re headed.”

“Localism is still incredibly important,” Ms. Burns said.

Many of the findings contrast with some new-technology efforts undertaken by stations. For example, new media offerings have yet to establish their popularity. Streaming video stories, blogs and podcasts aren’t luring many people to stations’ Web sites, according to the study. Up-to-date text stories are. In addition, a significant number of people are interested in going to a station’s Web site to check out a story they saw on a local newscast.

The survey was conducted online between Aug. 3 and Sept. 6 and included 1,011 adults 18 to 54 years old. The only requirement was that respondents own a TV set.

The survey contained 40 questions covering a broad swath of territory.

While the findings imply viewers still favor more traditional delivery of news to new media, the study’s authors said that doesn’t mean viewers will never storm the new platforms.

“It means stick to our knitting right now,” Ms. Clark said.

Thirty-eight percent of those surveyed said they frequently see something on a station’s Web site that they watch for later that evening on TV. Of those, 31 percent were between the ages of 18 and 24.

The response was very similar when people were asked how often they to go to stations’ Web sites to check on something they saw on a local newscast. Thirty-nine percent said they frequently or occasionally do so, and 40 percent of them were between the ages of 18 and 24.

Ms. Carter has six years of experience as a news director at two different stations. She said it is essential to “get the fundamentals right first” and to break news on the Web site. “Otherwise, there’s no reason to go there,” she said.

LIN Television, which owns and operates 30 stations, is one of the Magid clients that has gotten a comprehensive presentation of the survey results.

Scott Blumenthal, LIN’s executive vice-president of television, said the group thinks of itself as being an early adopter of emerging technologies.

“Quite frankly we were doing it a little bit blindly, as I think everyone has, trying to second-guess how the customer uses the different platforms,” he said.

He added that the survey takes some of the close your eyes, hold your nose and jump elements out of planning and budgeting for development of new-technology offerings.

“At least now we can see where the water is,” he said.