Rentrak Data Shows Spike in Local News Ratings During Hurricane Irene

By Merrill Knox 

Local news ratings in markets affected by Hurricane Irene saw audience spikes as high as 78 percent during the storm, according to Rentrak.

The company examined audience data from markets in Irene’s path — Albany, Boston, Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Hartford-New Haven, New York City, Philadelphia, Providence-New Bedford, Richmond, Raleigh-Durham and Washington, DC — over a two-day period of August 26-28, when the storm hit the East Coast.

Rentrak compared scheduled newscasts at 9 a.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. on ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC affiliates to the same newscasts from the previous week. The data was tracked by Rentrak’s Station View Essentials service and analyzed by TVB (numbers are after the jump).


Friday, August 26:

  • 6 p.m. newscast: +17%
  • 11 p.m. newscast: +59%

Saturday, August 27:

  • 9 a.m. newscast: +66%
  • 6 p.m. newscast: +78%
  • 11 p.m. newscast: +51%

Sunday, August 28

  • 9 a.m. newscast: +77%

“In times of grave concern for the safety and well-being of families as with natural disasters, we continue to see increased viewership on the local broadcast level,” TVB president and CEO Steve Lanzano told TVNewsCheck. “Rentrak’s findings further prove this point and demonstrate the importance of local broadcast television in keeping people informed about the critical events taking place in their community.”