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Covid-19’s community connection sparks engagement with local media

August 24, 2020 | By Rande Price, Research Director – DCN @Randeloo

The Covid-19 pandemic and the work-from-home lifestyle are affecting consumers’ media consumption behavior, including engagement with local news. From streaming music to OTT viewing, multitasking with media during the work day is a definite. An analysis from Nielsen’s Remote Workers Consumer Survey shows a larger share of media time is now spent on digital and connected TV devices. The Nielsen survey included 1,000 adults who worked from home prior to and during the coronavirus.

Consumers report their top three workday activities include listening to music (AM/FM and streaming), viewing OTT content and increased social media activity.

Local news consumption

While drive time to work decreased, consumption of local news did not. In fact, news (47%) as a content category leads in viewership compared to comedy (40%) and movies (36%).

Not only did the consumption of local news via digital media increase, it also increased across traditional channels. As concerns and restrictions grew, news briefs were a daily reality in the early days of the coronavirus. Consumers tuned to local news outlets to stay informed. A separate Nielsen viewership analysis between early February and early March registered notable spikes in local news viewing.

Viewing data from Nielsen’s Local People Meter (LPM) in 25 of the largest markets showed viewership in local news increased. Most notably, viewership increased among Persons 2+(7%), among Persons 2-17 (20%) and among Persons 25-54 (10%). Clearly, local news is present in peoples’ daily routines. Increases in local viewership respectively tracked increase Covid-19 positive case levels.

In addition, a study from NewsWhip shows local news sites such as dallasnews.com, wsmv.com, wcvb.com and wndu.com rank highest in user engagement among top news and entertainment media brands. And local sites such as oregonlive.com and wfla.com rank alongside national and international news sites in top related coronavirus articles.

Quality and quantity

Consumers are also seeking out established media brands for information on the public health crisis and the economic consequences. Interestingly, the desire for virus related news and the latest facts are curbing interest in opinionated and partisan sites.

Further, supporting the Nielsen survey and viewership data is a study from Horowitz Research. The findings here show that more than half of US consumers (58%) report accessing more local news during the pandemic than before (38%). Nearly a third of consumers (29%) also report they now consume more local public radio and local/regional newspapers. The increase in local news consumptions is most noticeable among persons 18-34. More than half of this demographic (53%) report they are watching more local news since the Covid-19 crisis.

Working from home offers choice in content consumption. The change in business workplace to the work at home environment offers a new connection point in digital media. Access to local digital news sites provides a strong  community focus and serves hyperlocal needs. It also offers marketers an active environment to engage with consumers and integrate at a local level.  

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