Local TV news continues to be the leading news source for Americans, according to a study released Tuesday by Pew Research Center, “with almost three out of four U.S. adults (71%) watching local television news, compared with 65% viewing network newscasts and 38% cable news over the course of a month, according to our analysis of Nielsen data from February 2013.”
In the study, Katerina Eva Matsa wrote that audiences for the three main time slots for local news grew. Even including numbers from 2013, however, the overall numbers for local TV news is down about 3 percent since 2007. Big news events during November of last year may also explain the higher numbers for 2013, Matsa wrote.
One likely reason for the 2013 audience growth was the number of major news events that broke during the sweeps periods. In November, the month with the biggest audience increase, the troubled launch of the President Obama’s health care website was big news as was news coverage of big weather events, including tornados in the Midwest, and floods in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. In February, the manhunt for Christopher Dorner, the former Los Angeles police officer who went on a killing spree, generated big audiences in the nation’s second-biggest TV market. That same month marked the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, the first pontiff to step down in nearly 600 years.