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How do consumers see local news?

How do consumers see local news?

Consumer perceptions of local newscasts vary from market to market, but it is interesting to look at the broader perception of our core product among those who are consistent newscast viewers and those who don’t watch us at all. To accomplish this, we gave viewers and non-viewers alike a series of words and asked them to select five of those words that completed the phrase, “Local newscasts are _______.”

Admittedly, the data will raise just as many questions as it answers, but we found it an interesting way to look at newscast perceptions through the eyes of viewers and non-viewers, and a valuable framework to see (at a high level) how our newscasts appeal to current viewers and how they turn off non-viewers.

We see that the top 5 words for daily viewers are the words; informative, helpful, trusted, real, and representative of my community. On the flip side, the top 5 words for non-viewers are; informative, over-produced, waste of time, depressing and cheesy. It is interesting that both groups largely find newscasts informative. Though viewing varies considerably between these two groups, they both see newscasts as a place to get information, and that is important.

Top 5 takeaways:

  1. Access isn’t the primary issue for non-viewers. We see that non-viewers find newscasts to be slightly more available than those who are daily viewers. This means that there must be another primary issue that is preventing non-viewers from watching.
  2. All viewers don’t find newscasts to be as necessary. Non-viewers are still seeing the least value in the newscast. But even the most loyal viewers don’t think of the newscast to be as needed as it once was.
  3. Local brands resonate with both viewers and non-viewers. Both groups see the community connection in a similar light, which speaks to the value of the brands local stations have.
  4. Local newscasts aren’t seen as complete or modern. This is a powerful takeaway! If we expect consumers to make an appointment to watch a newscast, we’ve got to make our product deliver completeness in a way that feels modern.
  5. The largest disconnect between viewers and non-viewers is based on how content is presented and what it focuses on. Non-viewers think local newscasts are presented in an over-produced fashion that is cheesy, and that the content is depressing and upsetting.

These takeaways give local stations a lot to think about. We don’t suggest that local stations should abandon their mission completely to chase non-viewers. But as the bucket of those that can be considered non-viewers continues to grow, the disconnect between viewers and non-viewers is a critical area of focus. How can you update the way your newscast looks and feels to deliver a more modern product? How can you focus on the right stories at the right level to be complete?

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