June 21st, 2010
Once again this May ratings erosion was the bane of many TV markets across the country. A number of stations jumped to #1 simply by losing fewer viewers than the competition. Now there are reasons for this – many more newscasts to choose from in numerous time periods, the Internet – and what I believe to be the main culprit – newscasts that are simply not relevant to the audience.
Too many newscasts just continue to fill time between the commercial breaks with the same meaningless stories they have been chasing for decades. I reviewed the morning newscasts from all the stations in a major market recently – five days worth – and the only “overnight news” was one-on-one crime. I couldn’t tell you what any of the stories were about – but I have an imagine of darkness broken only by yellow crime tape video and flashing blue lights on police cruisers seared into my brain. None of the stories were relevant to 99% of the morning viewers.
As we head into the dog days of summer, I encourage you to step back from the daily grind – and assess your news coverage. Check it against this list based on thousands and thousands of discussion with local TV news viewers.
Viewers keep asking for:
— News that affects their lives
— A balance of positive news amid all the gloom and doom
— Context – what does it mean?
— Less crime – they feel safe
— A return for the investment of their very precious time
Most local TV newscasts keep giving them:
— Content that has little or no effect on their lives or families
— Gloom and doom
— No context just one disconnected story following another
— More meaningless one-on-one crime
— The same few stories from newscast to newscast – so why tune in?
So, grab some time with your news managers and producers and review a week’s worth of newscasts from all time periods. See where you fall on the “desires” versus “delivery” check list. And then create a plan moving forward to make your newscasts relevant to viewers on a day in, day out basis so they feel compelled to invest their precious time in your newscasts.