The Shifting Landscape of Television News

Every PR firm knows that media hits for a client are good. That’s the bread and butter of the game. But every PR firm also knows that TV hits for a client are gold.  Television in America reigns supreme, and nightly newscasts are widely considered top dog when it comes to media placements.  That may be changing…

The fine braintrust at Motion PR ran across an article today in the New York Times that explains what we mean. Check it out for yourself at (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/01/business/media/01morning.html?_r=2&h). Here’s the gist: morning news has taken over.  Television networks across the nation are focusing more and more on their morning news programs as Nielsen ratings have shown that more Americans are getting up early to tune in. Gone are the days of the 6:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. broadcasts as your only chance to catch the news. TV stations are going where the viewers are, and it’s the early bird special.

Statistics have shown that the number of U.S. households that have at least one television set on at 4:30 in the morning has doubled since 1995, from 8% of households then to 16% now.  In New York, the percentage of viewers under 35 years of age watching TV between 3:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. is higher than any other part of the day. Whether this is from young people getting up earlier or still just staying up later doesn’t matter. Numbers don’t lie. Here in Chicago, NBC 5 has had a 4:30 a.m. broadcast since 2007, but that was bucking the trend. Two more Chicago stations have jumped on the bandwagon this summer, and similar patterns are being seen all across the country.  Stations are adding and promoting segments like WGN’s “Around Town” with Ana Belaval to try and boost their morning news ratings.

This isn’t to say that nighttime news is being forgotten. In fact, it’s just the opposite. For every statistic showing how early Americans are up, there are just as many proving how much later we’re staying up, too. 44% of households still have a TV set on after 11:30 p.m., up 10% from 1995. Regardless, major players in the news game are following suit and tuning in to what the people want.  Basically, while people are staying up late to watch The Daily Show and the Colbert Report, more and more are also setting their alarms to catch The Today Show and Good Morning America.

What does this mean for public relations? For one, start hitting up those morning news shows! Adapt or die seems a little harsh, but you catch our drift. And two, never underestimate the power of the people. The public gets what the public wants – we’re just here to play along.

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