The American Conversation Study: How Local TV News Drives Consumer Engagement

Local NewsWeather. Traffic. Sports. These are not only the pillars of Local TV News content, but the mainstays of everyday conversation. In large and small communities across America, Local TV News is driving many of our daily conversations, providing a trusted, reliable source of information that is both credible and shareable.

Earlier this year, TVB released its study of Cultural Currency, examining the ways in which mainstream media act as a cultural touchstone. Entertainment and information provided the currency by which people trade on interests in order to maintain and build their interpersonal connections. Nowhere is Cultural Currency more tangible than at the local market level, where first-person conversations fuel our ability to act and transact in the physical world.

As more and more of life’s interactions happen digitally, shared physical experiences have powerful effects on our ability to both process and remember information. Several studies have been published in the last decade about the impact of co-viewing and out-of-home viewing on advertising recall, illustrating the benefit of conversation to reinforce brand messaging. So while digital discourse (online chat) attracts much industry attention because of its ability to be easily monitored, face-to-face communication (word-of-mouth) has just recently begun to be explored as a measurable marketing channel.

Add to the mix that local news operations have become increasingly sophisticated in developing content for an array of on air, online and mobile assets, and you have a recipe for marketing success. Accessibility throughout the day provides viewers with updated information wherever and whenever they need it, capitalizing on the value of local market content that is tailored to the consumer’s first-person experience within their communities.

The American Conversation Study looks closely at the daily conversations that propel consumer interaction and highlights the dominance of Local TV News to deliver message and marketing impact.

Highlights of the study include:

  • As big as social media is today, online conversations (social, email and instant messaging) only account for about 8% of all conversations. 77% of all conversations happen face-to-face.
  • News of the Day topics generated the most number of conversations per day (9), with 82% of all respondents claiming to talk about Weather each day.
  • Local Broadcast News outpaced all other genres (Primetime, Cable News, National Sports) in impacting conversations each day, even among young adults 18-24 and 18-34.
  • Consumers are 30% more likely to say that advertising seen on Local Broadcast News impacted their Products and Services conversations than advertising seen on Cable News.

“One of the most fascinating findings in the study was that young people still rely on local broadcast news to fuel their daily conversations,” explains Stacey Lynn Schulman, Chief Research Officer of the TVB. “Despite the belief that young people have disengaged with watching news, young adults claim that Local Broadcast News content drives a higher percentage of their daily conversations than most other television genres – more than Cable News, Sports, and even Primetime programming. Local broadcast stations are disseminating news today across a wide range of platforms and devices, from the Internet to Mobile DTV and tablet apps, making it easy for Americans young and old to stay connected and informed throughout their day.”

The American Conversation study also concluded that 77% of daily conversations take place face-to-face, versus 8% occurring Online. “This just reinforces the importance of what ‘local’ means to our conversations,” noted Schulman. “You can’t get much more local than being in the same room.”

For more information about this study, contact Ms. Schulman at, or visit TVB’s analysis of “The American Conversation” on the TVB website at