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Local Broadcast TV Delivers 10x Larger Audience Than Streaming, Study Finds

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In what could be considered contrary to the continuous stream of news on the state of the TV and streaming market each month, a new study found that local broadcast news results in a much larger audience than streaming services. In some cases, local broadcast TV offers up to 10 times the audience of streaming.

Before digging into the findings, it is worth noting that the study was undertaken by the Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB), a not-for-profit trade association that represents America’s local broadcast television industry.

In fact, the TVB specifically says that the study was conducted “in response to industry reports about growing streaming viewership.”

In terms of the methodology, TVB says it compared one-day viewing of local broadcast news to various streaming services, including Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV Plus, Disney Plus, HBO Max (now Max), Hulu, and Netflix.

In addition, and in an attempt to create more of “an apples-to-apples comparison”, TVB compared the one-day audience of SVOD and linear broadcast TV on the same day, Feb 15, and across the same five markets: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, and New York.

Overall, this resulted in a total of 4,942 programs across the six SVOD services being compared to 58-79 news programs (depending on the market) in each market.

In terms of the results of the study, the TVB found that local news in each market generated 8-12 times the number of daily impressions than all of the streaming services combined.

Here’s how those results break down for each market:

  • Atlanta: 58 local broadcast news programs totaled 2,168,000 A18+, while 4,942 programs on the streaming services reached just 229,000.
  • Chicago: 64 local broadcast news programs totaled 3,860,000 A18+, while 4,942 programs on the streaming services reached just 329,000.
  • Dallas: 60 local broadcast news programs totaled 3,023,000 A18+, while 4,942 programs on the streaming services reached just 310,000.
  • Los Angeles: 79 local broadcast news programs totaled 4,979,000 A18+, while 4,942 programs on the streaming services reached just 663,000.
  • New York: 59 local broadcast news programs totaled 6,610,000 A18+, while 4,942 programs on the streaming services reached just 718,000.

As the numbers above suggest, in each of the markets, the fewer local broadcast news programs reached more adults aged 18 and over than all of the streaming services, and significantly so.

TVB does also make the case that the difference would be even greater if it was able to just focus on those subscribers that are signed up to an ad-supported plan without having to group them together with ad-free subscribers.

While streaming advocates could probably take issue with some of the methodology choices here, such as the choice of streaming services, omission of live TV streaming services, the time of day, or the limiting of testing to just five markets, the takeaway for us is that access to local news, sports and weather remains a very important aspect, and regardless of whether local channels and content are accessed over-the-air or via streaming.

John Finn
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