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Local Live TV News Is Going Strong

Apr 6, 2008  •  Post A Comment

We’ve all read prognostications about the so-called “death” of the 30-second TV ad. We’ve all read that cable/VCRs/DVDs/YouTube/DVRs were going to eliminate the need for live local television news. We’ve all heard that people won’t wait for the live local news because they can get what they want anytime on the Internet.
Well, despite the pundits’ predictions, local broadcast affiliates’ live news broadcasts apparently are alive and well, according to a recently released Frank N. Magid Associates report commissioned by Hearst-Argyle Television stations. The Magid study canvassed more than 2,700 local news viewers, ages 25 to 54.
The report, presented by Hearst-Argyle President-CEO David Barrett at the Television Bureau of Advertising conference in New York last month, found the following:
– Viewers are more engaged with local news than most other genres.
– Of respondents, 55% cite TV as their primary source of news information, followed distantly by the Web (26%) and print newspapers (14%).
– Local TV news is more “DVR-proof” than other program formats: Most viewers watch local news live, and even when they record these programs, they are less likely to fast-
forward through them.
– The greater loyalty audiences have to local broadcast TV news is a factor in the effectiveness of advertising within the genre. In a key finding, respondents reported that ads on local TV news drive greater product/service awareness than those within any other program type. Other research findings point to a strong linkage between leading local television news brands and the Web.
– After search engines, local TV news Web sites are the most frequently used for local news and weather.
– Online video viewing of local TV news content is higher than that for any other genre—37% for local news vs. 31% each for cable news and prime-time programming, 24% for reality TV video and 23% for broadcast network news.
– Among weather sources on the Web, local TV Web sites are the “most important source” for weather information.
– Among the online population, local news viewers are relatively affluent technology adapters: 44% have DVRs, 32% have HDTV sets.
Last week we asked Kathleen Keefe, VP of sales for Hearst-Argyle, a few questions about the Magid study.
TelevisionWeek: Why is this research important for broadcast television?
Ms. Keefe: Local television stations are the single most powerful advertising media in the world. No other media has the trusted relationship with its audience, and the level of engagement with its audience, and the reach into 90% of homes in every market in the United States. This most salient point tends to get lost in all the trade media and general-market media coverage of advertising opportunities.
TVWeek: Is broadcast television getting an unearned bad rep with many media planners and being labeled as “old” media?
Ms. Keefe: Imagine that Steve Jobs announced today a brand new media, one where we were going to hang a transmitter on a tall tower and transmit compelling entertainment, meaningful news about the world, the country and your local community, into 98% of all homes 24 hours a day, seven days a week! This wireless technology will broadcast in high definition, bringing gorgeously crisp pictures, for free! Not only that, when bad things happen to your community like tornadoes, floods, blizzards, wildfires, hostage situations, this new media will provide vital information to you on how you can protect yourself and your family. Imagine the response to that announcement. Imagine the advertisers clamoring to be a part of this new technology.
Well, it already exists.
Yet, because it was invented 60 years ago, it does tend to get short shrift of advertisers’ attention. This isn’t newspapers, dependent on a distribution system that was invented in the 19th century. This is a high-tech, state-of-the-art, modern delivery system.
TVWeek: What else is Hearst doing to leverage the local news audiences in digital media and mobile tech?
Ms. Keefe: The research Magid conducted clearly finds that the local TV station brands are deeply entrenched in their respective communities. These brands are trusted, well-liked and respected both for the content the stations provide and for the commercial messages the stations will deliver. The strength of these brands is traveling with our content to all the other platforms we are expanding to. The Internet is a bit like the Wild, Wild West. News and information on blogs and some Web sites may or may not be right. Local viewers expect that the local stations have fact-checked before publishing the news.
[Hearst-Argyle] has expanded to online and mobile, and will continue to provide content on any and all platforms existing today and being developed for tomorrow. [Hearst-Argyle] is committed to providing our content to the viewer when, where and how they want to consume it.
TVWeek: What do you see in the future for your television stations in regards to a marketing “tool box”?
Ms. Keefe: Television, the Web and search engine marketing all play different and complementary roles throughout the purchase cycle. [Hearst-Argyle] is just about to launch an SEM tool to our stations so that our account executives can be a full source of knowledge and products for our local advertisers.
There is a saying that goes, “Never fear a new competitor, since eventually they’ll probably make your product appear as a better option.”
It seems the more new media that join in the fight for viewers, the more we seem to value real reliability and integrity of information.
Perhaps it’s time for media planners to reframe their conversations about the value of environment and trust in addition to cost per point and demo skew.
Adam Armbruster is a senior partner with Red Bank, N.J.-based retail and broadcasting consulting firm Eckstein, Summers, Armbruster & Co. He can be reached at adam@esacompany.com or 941-928-7192.

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