Surfers Prefer Community Coverage

Internet users looking for local news will turn to regionally based newspaper sites over TV and national news Web sites, a pair of surveys revealed.

The Media Audit examined 474 TV Web sites in 2001 and found that 273 attracted less than four percent of the adults in their immediate market. Only four stations attracted more than 20 percent and just 55 drew more than 10 percent. There were only three markets where a TV station leads or is tied with the local daily newspaper.

“Since its inception in 1998,” says Bob Jordan, co-chairman of International Demographics, Inc., a 31-year-old research firm, which produces The Media Audit. “the online survey data shows the Web sites of daily newspapers dominating the local Web media market. In 2001 the newspapers made significant gains while TV stations – collectively – showed little progress.”

The Media Audit determined that the two most successful TV Web sites in the 85 metro markets that were surveyed are MySanAntonio.com and NewsOk.com. Both sites represent a local television affiliate and a local newspaper, each with a different owner.

San Antonio Express News, a Hearst newspaper, teamed up with the Belo-owned television station, KENS. The site attracts 27.0 percent of the adults in the market.

NewsOk.com is a partnership of The Oklahoman, owned by The Oklahoma Publishing Co. and the CBS affiliate KWTV, owned by Griffin Television. The site attracts 24.0 percent of the adults in the market.

“San Antonio and Oklahoma City,” says Jordan, “are clear examples of convergence. And, obviously convergence works. Both combinations bring together the superior promotional ability of television with the overwhelming news gathering strength of newspapers. However, I think we still need to see this business model as a test. The question that still hasn’t been answered is: Does this work financially for both partners?”

Other findings in the report include:

  • The third most successful local television Web site is WISC-TV’s Channel3000.com in Madison, attracting 22.2 percent of adults in the market. The local daily newspaper, Wisconsin State Journal, operates its own very successful Web site, madison.com, which attracts 22.0 percent of the adults in the market.
  • Fourth is WRAL-TV in Raleigh. Its site, WRAL.com attracts 20.0 percent of the adults in its market. Capitol Broadcasting Co owns the station.
  • In Cedar Rapids, KCRG-TV’s Web site (KCRG.com) attracts 16.4 percent of adults, while the local daily newspaper, Cedar Rapids Gazette, attracts 15.9 percent to its site.
  • In Greensboro WXII-TV (ThePiedmontChannel.com) attracts 8.6 percent of adults while its newspaper rival, The News Record (NewsRecord.com) attracts 8.5 percent.

Jordan is optimistic about the future of TV Web sites, commenting, “…there are another 10 markets in which the leading TV Web site is within 3 percentage points of the local daily newspaper site. It’s evidence, again, that local TV stations can succeed. Those who feel that only one television station in each market can succeed on the Web need to look at the numbers in San Antonio and Oklahoma City.”

Meanwhile, NFO WorldGroup has found that consumers who want to shop are looking closer to home by visiting local newspaper Web sites. The survey, conducted among 300-400 Internet users per market during Q4 2001, found that a higher percentage of consumers made purchases either online or at brick-and-mortar stores after visiting local news Web sites, compared to national news Web sites.

NFO WorldGroup has determined the percentage of visitors who made online purchases or in brick-and-mortar stores after visiting a particular site in some major markets:

  • Boston
    Boston.com, 21.9 percent
    MSNBC.com, 2 percent
    CNN.com, .6 percent
  • New York
    NYTimes.com, 12.4 percent
    MSNBC.com, 2.7 percent
    CNN.com, 5.3 percent
  • Washington, DC
    WashingtonPost.com, 17.7 percent
    MSNBC.com, 2.7 percent
    CNN.com, .7 percent
  • Atlanta
    ajc.com, 12.9 percent
    MSNBC.com, 1.4 percent
    CNN.com, .7 percent
  • Phoenix
    AZCentral.com, 15.9 percent
    MSNBC.com, 4.4 percent
    CNN.com, 1.5 percent
  • Sacramento
    sacbee.com, 10.4 percent
    MSNBC.com, 6.5 percent
    CNN.com, .9 percent
  • Seattle
    SeattleP-I.com, 16.8 percent
    SeattleTimes.com, 10.7 percent
    MSNBC.com, 1.1 percent
    CNN.com, 1.7 percent
  • Chicago
    ChicagoTribune.com, 13 percent
    ChicagoSun-Times.com, 12.7 percent
    MSNBC.com, 5.2 percent
    CNN.com, 4.4 percent

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