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In an age dominated by streaming services like Netflix, Prime Video, and Hulu, it’s easy to assume that traditional broadcast television is losing its relevance. However, a recent analysis by TVB, the trade association of America’s local broadcast television industry, challenges this perception. The study compared the viewership of local broadcast TV news to popular subscription video-on-demand (SVoD) platforms, revealing a surprising truth: local TV news still holds a substantial advantage over streaming services. In this article, we will delve into the findings of the study and shed light on the importance of broadcast media in the UK, where valuable insights and data remain under wraps.

Understanding the Study

TVB’s analysis aimed to gain a better understanding of the size and scale of streaming audiences compared to local broadcast television, with a specific focus on local news programming. The study compared a single day’s viewership of local broadcast news with the combined viewership of popular SVoD platforms such as Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, Apple TV+, Disney+, and HBO Max. To ensure an accurate comparison, TVB selected February 15th, 2023, as the reference date and included five geographically diverse Local People Meter (LPM) markets available in Nielsen’s national system.

Overwhelming Evidence of Local TV News Dominance

The results of the analysis revealed an undeniable advantage for local TV news when it comes to viewership. In each of the five markets studied, local broadcast TV news attracted 8 to 12 times more adult 18+ viewers compared to the combined streaming platforms. It is important to note that the streaming audience figures encompass both ad-supported and ad-free subscribers. If the ad-supported streaming audiences were isolated from the total figures, local broadcast TV news audiences would exceed subscription streaming by an even greater margin.

Market-specific Insights

Let’s delve into the market-specific findings to gain a better perspective:

  1. New York: With a total of 59 local broadcast news programs, local TV news reached an impressive 6,610,000 adults aged 18+. In contrast, the 4,942 programs on the streaming services only reached 718,000 viewers.
  2. Los Angeles: The 79 local broadcast news programs garnered a viewership of 4,979,000 adults aged 18+, while the same-day streaming programs reached a mere 663,000 viewers.
  3. Chicago: Local TV news, with 64 programs, reached 3,860,000 adults aged 18+. Conversely, the streaming platforms reached only 329,000 viewers with 4,942 programs.
  4. Dallas: Local broadcast news programs amounted to 60, capturing an audience of 3,023,000 adults aged 18+. On the other hand, the streaming services, despite featuring 4,942 programs, reached a mere 310,000 viewers.
  5. Atlanta: Local TV news programs numbered 58 and reached 2,168,000 adults aged 18+. Meanwhile, the streaming platforms managed to attract just 229,000 viewers across their 4,942 programs.

Implications for the UK and Skepticism Towards Streaming Dominance

While these findings shed light on the American market, it is crucial to reflect on their relevance for the UK and the broader global landscape. In the UK, valuable insight and data are often not released to the public, making it challenging to assess the exact viewership dynamics. However, the saying, “When America sneezes, the world catches a cold,” rings true when it comes to media trends. The dominance of local TV news in the US highlights the significance of broadcast media as a reliable and far-reaching platform.

It is essential to approach the prevailing narrative of “Netflix wins everything” with scepticism. While streaming services have undoubtedly disrupted the media landscape, the TVB analysis reminds us that local broadcast TV news continues to attract substantial audiences. As a result, detractors of broadcast media should reconsider their stance and recognize the enduring influence and importance of traditional platforms.

The TVB analysis comparing local broadcast TV news viewership with that of popular streaming platforms provides valuable insights into the media landscape. The findings debunk the assumption that streaming services have rendered broadcast media irrelevant. In the UK, where access to such data remains limited, these results should encourage a more balanced and nuanced approach to media planning and evaluation. Rather than succumbing to the allure of streaming dominance, it is crucial to recognize the enduring significance and influence of broadcast media, ensuring a comprehensive and effective PR strategy that encompasses both traditional and digital platforms.

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