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National vs. Local News: The 4 Metrics That Matter

February 1st, 2018   ||    by Susan Kuchinskas

The four most important metrics for TV news are trust, reach, revenue, and value. And when it comes to these categories, local news outperforms national news in every one.

So, it appears that local has the winning combination. Here’s how.

1. Trust

In June 2017, we reported the results of Videa’s national survey of U.S. consumers: 59 percent got their news from local stations at least some of the time, while 62 percent said they trusted local news more than national news organizations.

These findings were consistent with another poll by Morning Consult and Politico in which 41 percent of registered voters believed their local television news outlets reported the truth—as opposed to 27 percent who said they had more faith in national news.

In 2016, Google News gave another boost to the trustworthiness of local news sources by highlighting their reporting with the “local source” tag. Previously, a community news source might have done the investigative work to break a story that was then picked up by national outlets—pushing the local source out of Google’s roundup.

In its blog post announcing this change, Google said, “Local reporters are often members of the communities they serve, bringing additional context and perspective to a story.” At the same time, the inclusion in Google News brings additional credibility to local outlets.

2. Reach

It makes sense that people would turn more often to trusted news sources to get information, and that’s precisely the case, according to Nielsen. Its most recent Local Watch Report said local TV news reaches more adults than both national broadcast network news and cable news.

In an average week, local news reached 40 percent of people ages 25 to 54, compared to 32 percent for national broadcast news and 17 percent for cable news. Local TV news also had four times the consumption rate of news on smartphones and computers.

Plus, there are new distribution opportunities for local station groups as part of skinny bundles. Deadline Hollywood reported on a panel of station executives who appeared at the 2017 NAB Show New York who noted over-the-top (OTT) bundles are adding local stations to expand their offerings.

3. Revenue

Trust leads to growth in viewership, and that leads to growth in ad revenue.

In its 2018 U.S. Local Advertising Forecast, BIA/Kelsey predicted local TV stations would see a 5.2 percent growth in total ad spend—from $143.8 billion last year to $151.2 billion this year. That figure includes over-the-air and online television.

Several factors could contribute to a strong 2018 for local TV stations: It’s an election year, which means a windfall in political advertising. In the future, the ATSC 3.0 standard will let stations offer better ad targeting and tracking, as well as cross-platform campaigns.

Early programmatic adopters have found automated TV buying can do this as well, increasing the value of spots by tying them to target audiences while at the same time improving advertisers’ return on investment (ROI).

4. Value

Advertisers know television advertising works. For TV in general, a study by Turner and Horizon Media found television’s lift was seven times better than paid search and five times better than online display ads, according to Multichannel News.

As WARC reports, a study by Disney/ABC Television found that multiplatform television delivered superior ROI over search, display, and short-form video. The study also found that TV shows perceived to be of high quality, or which created an emotional connection, delivered almost four times the ROI of lower-quality shows. Both of these—quality and emotional connection—are one of the areas where local news excels.

That’s why local news will be a winner in 2018.

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