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VUit: Weather Drives Out-Of-Market Viewers To Local Streaming Newscasts

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Hurricane Ida was the most popular local news story on VUit's streaming platform in 2021. (Image credit: Unsplash)

NEW YORK—In a rare look at some of the major trends in audiences for streaming local newscasts, VUit has released its end of year data, showing that viewing has tripled on streaming platform and that Hurricane Ida, tornadoes, floods and fires have been driving viewers to local market newscasts streamed on VUit.

The platform, which carries more than 200 local station newscasts covering 83% of the nation’s DMAs, reports that it has seen its viewership minutes triple in the past year, as viewers have turned to the platform with an increased appetite for a local lens into major news and cultural events of interest to them outside of their current hometown. 

According to VUit’s 2021 year end data, news stories about the weather and climate-related events were the biggest drivers for viewers to stream local newscasts on its platform this year.  Seven of the top nine most watched news events on VUit were weather related with Hurricane Ida driving the largest lift of any specific weather event to local station newscasts, followed by the multi-state tornado event December 10th, with other winter storms, and West Coast fires also being of great interest to viewers to tune into newsstreams outside of their current hometown.  

Beyond hard news, high school sports and high school graduations streamed on VUit were highly appealing to audiences across the country.  For example, WYMT-TV in Kentucky attracted viewers from close to 60 markets for their broadcast of high school sports events while Linn Mar High School’s graduation stream from KCRG reached well beyond Iowa to viewers in 65 markets.  

The most watched television station on VUit this year is KTSF-TV out of San Francisco.  The broadcaster, in existence for more than four decades, provides local programming to viewers in a variety of Asian languages. Outside of San Francisco, the station attracts a significant proportion of viewers from several top markets, led by Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Seattle-Tacoma, San Diego, Monterey-Salinas, and Portland, Oregon.  

The other most watched stations on the platform include:

  • WFMZ – Philadelphia – Maranatha Broadcasting 
  • WWTV - Traverse City – Heritage Broadcasting   
  • WAFB - Baton Rouge – Gray Television 
  • WVUE - New Orleans – Gray Television  
  • WKYT – Lexington – Gray Television  
  • WSAZ – Charleston/Huntington – Gray Television   
  • WLUC – Marquette – Gray Television   
  • KTUU – Anchorage – Gray Television   
  • WJRT – Flint/Saginaw/Bay City – Gray Television

The most popular news stories on VUit were primarily weather and climate-related (not in ranked order except for Hurricane Ida and the Multi-State Tornado event, which are #1 and #2 respectively):  

  • Hurricane Ida in August (WVUE-TV, WAFB-TV, WLBT-TB, WLOX-TV & KPLC-TV)
  • Multi-State Tornado Event (WAVE-TV, KAIT-TV, WBKO-TV)
  • Georgia Senate runoff election in January (WGCL-TV)
  • Winter Storm Orlena late January/early February (WFMZ-TV)
  • Extreme winter weather in Texas in February (KWTX-TV & KFDA-TV)
  • Extreme weather in Alabama in March (WALA-TV, WAFF-TV, & WVRC-TV)
  • Iditarod Sled Dog Race in March (KTUU-TV)
  • Flooding in Louisiana in May (WVUE-TV)
  • Schroeder Fire in Rapid City, SD in March (KEVN-TV) 

The most popular pieces of content on the platform outside of hard news were high school sports and high school graduations, including:  

  • High school basketball from Kentucky  on March 22, March 23, March 26, and March 27 (WYMT)
  • Michigan High School All-Star Softball game July 14th  (WWTV)
  • Freddy Awards (high school performing arts awards) (WFMZ)
  • Chinese New Year (KTSF)
  • Linn Mar High School Graduation (KCRG)
  • Kennedy High School Graduation (KCRG)
  • Friday Night Lights (High School Football—Thursday Edition) (KCRG)
  • High School Girls Basketball March 25th and March 27th (WYMT)
  • Jefferson High School Graduation (KCRG)
  • Washington High School Graduation (KCRG)
  • Onaway Speedway Steer the World 100 July 10th (WWTV)
  • Traverse City Fireworks (WWTV)

The local sports/cultural events that drove the most out-of-market viewership on the platform are:

  • Iditarod Sled Dog race reached viewers in 178 markets. (KTUU)
  • Linn Mar High School Graduation reached viewers in 65 markets. (KCRG)
  • High school basketball from Kentucky reached viewers in 59 markets. (WYMT)
  • Michigan High School All-Star softball reached viewers in 58 markets. (WWTV)
  • Kennedy High School Graduation reached viewers in 53 markets. (KCRG)
  • The cities with the most viewers logging onto VUit for local news content include San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, Philadelphia, Traverse City-Cadillac, Wilkes Barre-Scranton-Hztn, Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, New York, Lexington, Flint-Saginaw-Bay City, Marquette, and Charleston-Huntington.

The VUit streaming platform has brokered carriage deals with such broadcasting groups as Hearst Television, Cox Media Group, Citadel Communications, Morris Network, and News Press & Gazette.  Gray Television is also an investor. VUit is available on all major streaming platforms and devices, including mobile and desktop web, iOS and Android devices, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, AppleTV, and more.

George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.