Weather Channel’s Coverage of Matthew Delivers Big Ratings

By A.J. Katz 

Each of the broadcast and cable news networks sent correspondents and reporters to the southeast Atlantic Coast, Haiti and the Bahamas for several days last week to report on Hurricane Matthew, an unbelievably powerful storm that has left a significant amount of damage and devastation in its wake.

The Weather Channel’s live coverage spanned 115 hours across five days and viewers, as Nielsen shows, tuned in in droves.

The Weather Channel was the No. 1 cable network on Thursday, Oct. 6 and Friday, Oct. 7 among viewers from the key news demo of Adults 25-54. TWC averaged 568,000 total day viewers from the demo on Thursday, more than cable news counterparts Fox News (295,000) and CNN (293,000). The network averaged 2.4 million total prime time viewers on Thursday, and was the second-most-watched prime time cable network on both Thursday and Friday, only behind Fox News.

Across the 5-day period of wall-to-wall coverage, TWC delivered 52 million total viewers, or 17 percent of the total U.S. TV viewing audience. The network also attracted 1-in-5 people who are able to receive the network, 23.3 percent to be exact.  Additionally, The Weather Channel reached 18.4 million A25-54 viewers across that 5-day span, or 15 percent of the U.S. TV viewing audience from the demo.

How is The Weather Channel able to out-perform the cable competition, particularly breaking news juggernauts like Fox News and CNN in the key demo?

“I think one of the biggest differentiators is that we are always the first to report on imminent severe weather while others are often late to the game,” The Weather Channel svp of programming Nora Zimmett told TVNewser. “Our anchors are scientists, they’re not just reading teleprompters, and they are calculating what the weather will be down to the river, the town, and the zip code.  We get specific so Americans can trust that we’ll tell them exactly what is going to happen where they live, and we are experiencing the weather as our viewers are experiencing it, before, during and after the storm. When the storm hits – we are live until it is over.”

Thursday and Friday weren’t the first days The Weather Channel has out-performed the entire cable landscape in the news demo. TWC was cable’s No. 1 network in A25-54 on Sept. 3-5, 2004 (Hurricane Frances), Sept. 14-16, 2004 (Hurricane Ivan), Aug. 28-29, 2005 (Hurricane Katrina), and Aug. 26-27, 2011 (Hurricane Irene).

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