July 8th, 2012
For years, AR&D has been advising client TV stations to be multiple platform news and information providers. Now, a recent online survey shows that what is thought to be the last big driver of local TV newscast viewing – the weather – is also being stormed by a multitude of media.
In fact, this survey in an East Coast market shows that the number one source on normal weather days – is no choice. Fully one quarter of all respondents answered “None/Don”t Know” when asked the source they turn to during calm weather days. But perhaps more surprising was the #2 source – 22% said it was their smartphone or mobile device. The favorite TV newscast in the market limped in 3rd receiving 14% of the votes. This is a TV station with a 40-plus preference. The fourth choice on normal weather days was Weather.com at 13%. The second favorite TV station received only 6% of the votes for normal weather days.
OK, those numbers are a bit surprising. But AR&D research has shown for years that most local TV news viewers are non-discriminate when the weather outside is sunny. They don’t seek out their favorite weathercaster or newscast, content instead to stay on whatever channel they happen to be on at that time. But surely, when it comes to severe weather local TV news will reign supreme as it always has? Won’t it?
The answer is a big NO! The survey shows that the #1 source for local TV news viewers during severe weather is “None/Don’t Know.” It represents 22% of the respondents in our survey. Now, the dominant favorite TV station in this market comes in a close second with 20% of the votes. But they are still second – and with their big preference share it means less than half of their own fans choose them when the weather is potentially life-threatening.
The second favorite station garners 13% of the votes when there is severe weather, with smartphones and mobile devices right behind at 12%. The Weather Channel grabbed 8% of the votes for severe weather source with their website – Weather.com – next with 7% of the votes. In both normal and severe weather – the local TV websites captured less than 5% of the votes.
When you slice the data by station fans it becomes a bit more alarming. During normal weather days, only 27% of their own fans choose that dominant #1 TV station. A larger number – 28% answer “None/Don’t Know” and another 19% of their fans list smartphones/mobile devices.
The loyalty to the TV station rises slightly in severe weather. 38% of the #1 station’s fans say they turn to their favorite TV station when the weather gets rough. But even on those stormy days 28% of their fans say “None/Don’t Know.” The use of smartphones/mobile devices shrinks to 10% on those stormy days among the #1 station’s fans. The top station’s own website ties the Weather Channel as a severe weather source with 8% of the votes.
So, what are the lessons in this survey? First and foremost you can no longer take for granted that your TV weathercast will be the automatic top choice for local television news viewers on stormy days. It also points out the need to re-examine your multiple platform strategy and marketing. You MUST be everywhere – on every communication device people use in their everyday lives. If you want to give your lead meteorologist a high profile – then they MUST be on every platform too. The days of your meteorologist walking in late in the afternoon and putting together a TV weathercast are gone forever. Their job now stretches throughout the day tweeting, blogging, updating on smartphones, tablets and your website.