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Local news broadcasts engage viewers at a higher rate than many other TV genres, according to [pdf] a new study from Frank M. Magid Associates, Inc. and Hearst Television, Inc.

Local News Ingrained in Viewer Routines

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When asked what TV genre is a major part of their daily routine, a leading 49% of respondents said local news. While this was closely followed by broadcast prime-time dramas and sitcoms (47%) and broadcast network prime time reality TV (42%), the next-highest rated news genre, cable news, only had a 34% response rate.

Local News Viewers Pay Attention

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In addition, local TV news ranked fourth in terms of being the type of programming viewers pay more attention to than when watching other types (45% of respondents selected it). While broadcast network prime-time dramas/sitcoms had the highest overall rating (57%), the next-highest-rated news genres, broadcast network news and cable news, tied for sixth with 39%.

Local News Most Essential News Genre

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Local news was rated as essential by the highest percentage of respondents (31%), once again ranking fourth overall with broadcast network prime-time dramas/sitcoms ranking first (39%). Cable news followed at a distant fifth with a 23% essential rating.

Online Video Viewing of Local News is Second-Highest among Major TV Genres

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Looking at viewing of TV genres by online video viewers, the study reveals that 31% of respondents have viewed online video of local news in the past 30 days, second only to broadcast network prime-time dramas/sitcoms (32%). Cable news ranked third with a 25% online viewing rating.

Drama Beats Reality

Looking at prime time US viewership for ABC, CBS, CW, Fox and NBC between September 2009 and May 2010, recent Nielsen data indicates general drama shows captured 41% audience share, up slightly from 40% the previous season.

General and participation variety (reality) shows lagged with a 24% audience share, up 14% from 21% during the 2009-2010 season. Sports shows jumped from 8% to 12% share, an impressive 50% growth rate that led all genres, in the same time period.

Conversely, the eighth-ranked feature film genre reported the highest rate of audience share loss, dropping about 67% from 6% to 2%.

About the Data: Frank M. Magid Associates conducted an online survey of 2,500 local news viewers age 25-54 in the Hearst news footprint from October 5-13, 2010.

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