Rentrak Captures Broadcast Spike During Hurricane Irene

Local news ratings outstrip cable by 10x
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NEW YORK: Local broadcast news ratings in markets affected by Hurricane Irene spiked as much as 78 percent during the storm, Rentrak said today. Rentrak derived numbers from its Station View Essentials local TV ratings service. The data showed that during the August weekend that Hurricane Irene hit the East Coast, local broadcast television news viewing saw increases of up to 78 percent in household ratings, especially on Saturday, Aug. 27, at 6 p. m. as the storm surged.

Rentrak said that despite wide-spread power outages, it was able to collect data because of its “large sample.” The metrics company examined data from 12 markets--Albany, N.Y.; Boston, Charleston and Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Hartford and New Haven, Conn.; New York City, Philadelphia, Providence and New Bedford, R.I.; Norfolk and Richmond, Va.; Raleigh-Durham, N.C. and Washington, D.C.

Viewing to regularly scheduled newscasts at 9 a.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. on the ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC affiliates, in these markets, were compared to same time period viewing the previous week. Rentrak said viewing closely matched Hurricane Irene’s approach, peak and passage:

Friday, Aug. 26
6 p.m. up 17 percent
11 p.m. up 59 percent
Saturday, Aug.. 27
9 a.m. up 66 percent
6 p.m. up 78 percent
11 p.m. up 51 percent
Sunday, Aug. 28
9 a.m. up 77 percent

Rentrak said the numbers demonstrated that people “overwhelmingly” turn to local TV stations during critical situations. The 12 surveyed markets yielded an aggregate 279.3 HH rating for the Saturday, Aug. 27, 11 p.m. newscast on broadcast TV stations. During the same period, CNN, Fox News Channel, HLN and MSNBC yielded an aggregate 24.5 HH rating.