Coronavirus Crisis Driving More Local News Viewing: Comscore

Concern over the spread of the coronavirus is driving more viewers to tune in their local newscasts, according to new statistics from Comscore.

Comscore said that in the top 25 markets, it has registered an 11% increase in viewing for the week of March 9, compared to the week of Feb. 10.

The biggest increase--28%--came in the Seattle-Tacoma market where many early cases of the virus were reported. Other markets showing big gain included Los Angeles, up 19%; San Francisco/Oakland, up 18%; Miami, up 15% and Phoenix, up 14%. New York local news viewing rose 9%.

Stations have started to increase the amount of news they air as viewers demand information about the crisis. On Monday, many NBC-owned stations added newscasts focusing on coronavirus developments.

On a national basis, Comscore said there have been about 170 special telecasts about the crisis, and American households viewed more than 18 million hours of that content. The telecast with the highest reach was CNN’s Global Town Hall--Coronavirus: Fast and Fears with Facebook and Instagram on March 12, which was viewed by over 5 million homes.

Related: Media Usage Expected to Rise During Crisis: Nielsen

Comscore found a spike in visits to government health websites. The CDC, HIM and WHO sites were up 425% in the week of March 9 compared to the week of Jan. 6 and up 79% from the prior week.

New websites garnered their biggest week of the year during the week of March 9, with 100 million more visits than the week of March 2, which was No. 2.

Retail sites also getting increases in visitors, peaking the week of March 9 when there were 779 million visits to Amazon, Walmart and Target. Visits were up 3.8% versus the previous week.

“As the global novel Coronavirus crisis grows, consumers are making significant changes to the way they interact with content and advertising across platforms,” Comscore said. 

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.