Public Relations

COVID-19 Shifts The Way We Consume Traditional TV News

By: Maddie Skains, Public Relations Specialist

The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to the shift of many consumer-driven products such as e-commerce and food delivery apps. However, another service the pandemic has influenced, almost imperceptibly, is the way traditional TV news is presented.

As public relations experts, we continue to analyze where the newsroom places its focus. This may include trending stories journalists are pursuing or story topics each outlet emphasizes, as well as which newscasts are more valuable than others.

Before Covid-19, newsrooms historically stressed the importance of early morning and evening newscasts since these shows traditionally had a larger viewing audience as it correlated with traditional work schedules. These coveted newscasts usually have all the bells and whistles newsrooms have to offer such as live reporter stories, “only on” taglines and other differentiators to attract and hold the attention of that large viewing audience in a half-hour to hour-long window. This is how it has been for years, but COVID-19 disrupted this pattern.

Due to the pandemic, viewing habits have shifted dramatically. Less people are heading into work, as many Americans are without jobs and others are working from home. This means shows that were previously emphasized such as the 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. newscasts aren’t holding the same audience numbers anymore and are losing their significance.

Newsroom leaders are now reanalyzing their metrics and trading focus to newscasts that were once overshadowed and considered “the middle child” — the midday newscasts. These shows air in between syndicated daytime programming. Now you will see those same bells and whistles of live reporters, exclusive stories, and unique differentiators in newscasts that generally run between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

These broadcasts are now where marketing and public relations experts should focus their attention, especially since there may be an uptick in viewership thanks to the COVID-19 effect. As we all navigate a variety of new normals, it’s important to stay abreast of industry changes as it relates to our work objectives to ensure successful results.

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