Survey Says: Local TV was Primary Source of Hurricane Information

NEW YORK: Adults in selected communities affected by Hurricane Irene were “extremely engaged with tracking the storm’s path, impact and aftermath” on local broadcast TV, in particular. This, according to a survey conducted for Hearst Television by Marshall Marketing. The survey included respondents in three television markets served by Hearst stations, which were significantly impacted by flooding and other damage from the hurricane--Baltimore, Boston and the Burlington, Vermont/Plattsburgh, N.Y.

Local TV was the most referred-to source of information, the survey indicated: 39 percent of respondents found out about the Irene’s approach on TV. No. 2 was the Internet, at 15 percent. Other sources comprised 11 percent.

Sixty-six percent of those polled said they tracked the storm on local TV, particularly on Hearst’s WBAL-TV in Baltimore, WCVB-TV in Boston and WPTZ/WNNE-TV in Burlington/Plattsmouth.

Additionally, an average of more than 95 percent of viewers responded that they were “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with the Hearst station’ coverage.

Households losing power--40 percent of all respondents--continued to track the storm via means other than local TV and returned overwhelmingly to local TV when power was restored. Many turned on the radio, and among them, 16 percent listened to a TV broadcast on the radio. Half went back to watching local news when the power came back on.

Hearst said the survey indicated mobile technology played a role: 30 percent of adults received an alert on a mobile device, led by use of weather apps.

Among the broader findings, 85 percent of all adults in these markets were tracking Irene as it impacted their region; 54 percent said they were “very prepared” for the storm; 42 percent said they were “somewhat prepared.”

When asked, “What would you do differently the next time a hurricane or storms are headed for your area?” the No. 1 and 2 responses were “Nothing” (44 percent), and “Make sure I have more batteries in the house” (24 percent).

The survey was conducted Sept. 19-22 and included 1,400 respondents--500 each in Baltimore (the nation's No. 27 TV market, as ranked by market size by Nielsen) and Boston (the No. 7 TV market), and 400 in Burlington/Plattsburgh (the No. 95 TV market). It was conducted for Hearst Television by the marketing intelligence firm Marshall Marketing & Communications of Pittsburgh.