Local Broadcast TV Viewership Is Booming, Offering Targeting Opportunities for Political Campaigns

COVID-19 Fundamentally Changing TV Viewing Habits, Including 35+ Demographic

The COVID-19 crisis has forced many Americans to stay home, changing daily habits substantially and leading to dramatic increases in local broadcast television viewing. To better understand changing media habits, the Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB) released analysis of Nielsen broadcast TV viewership data among key age demographics, comparing the month of March 2020 by week to the same weeks in March 2019.

TVB’s analysis found substantially increased levels of broadcast TV viewership, especially among adults 35+. Viewers want to hear about their communities straight from the sources they trust the most—their local broadcast stations. The data shows that local broadcast TV will be key to political campaigns in reaching this critical demographic.

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Findings include:

  • Among adults 35+, live viewership of Monday-Friday late news increased 34 percent by the end of March.
  • By the third week of March, live viewership of all local news Monday-Friday saw a 50 percent increase among adults 35+.
  • Adults 35+ live viewing in the third week of March 2020 of prime-time programming, (Monday-Saturday from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.) had an 18 percent increase.

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“With traditional campaigning on hold, political campaigns must shift their strategies in order to reach voters at home,” said TVB President and CEO Steve Lanzano. “Now more than ever, the most effective way for campaigns to reach voters is through local broadcast television. Local TV viewership is growing, which presents political campaigns and ad buyers with a terrific opportunity to engage likely voters. Advertising on local stations will enable candidates to reach even more of the audiences that will be critical to success in 2020.”

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