Local News Viewership Rises in 2013 Thanks to Obamacare, Manhunts and Tornadoes (Study)

Local news still the top source for catching up on day’s events

There may be more ways to catch up on the day’s events then ever before, but the onslaught of digital news sources didn’t take a chunk out of the audiences for local TV newscasts last year.

Obamacare’s dicey launch, the manhunt for murderer Christopher Dorner, tornadoes and floods drove local news viewership up during 2013, according to a new study but the Pew Research Center. 

The audience for morning news (5 to 7 a.m.) rose 6 percent, early evening broadcasts (5 to 7 p.m.) climbed 3 percent and late night newscasts (11 p.m.) experienced a negligible .1 percent bump.

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“One likely reason for the 2013 audience growth was the number of major news events that broke during the sweeps periods,” Research Analyst Katerina Eva Matsa wrote, noting that those November and February periods coincided with the launch of the president’s healthcare law, the Dorner pursuit and the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.

Although local news remains the top news source for 71 percent of adults — a higher percentage than depend on cable and broadcast — viewership has fallen precipitously. Late news programs shed a sixth of their audience in the past six years, while early evening news fell 12 percent and morning newscasts lost 3 percent of viewers, Pew notes.