A survey of 500 Michigan citizens by researchers from Michigan State University reveals the overwhelmingly majority of viewers say television remains the dominant entertainment medium, and that local television news provides citizens with a vitally important connection to their local community. The William Donohue Group of East Lansing, Michigan conducted the statewide survey for the Michigan Association of Broadcasters (MAB).
“Not only is television viewing as strong as ever, but Michigan citizens clearly told us they want local television to provide information about weather and news,” said William A. Donohue, Professor of Communication at Michigan State University. “People in Michigan are convinced that local TV stations provide a valuable service to the community and all indications are viewing levels will remain consistent going forward.”
MAB hired the William Donohue Group to survey viewer attitudes toward television in general, and local television news in particular. The research was also used to determine the impact that new technology such as digital video recorders (DVRs), video games and Internet usage may have on television viewing. The telephone survey of 500 Michigan citizens representing a geographic cross-section of the state was conducted in April 2007.
Among the key findings of the research:
• 84% of those surveyed say they are frequent or occasional viewers of television news;
• 83% of the sample believes their favorite station provides a valuable service to the community;
• 77% believe they are spending about the same amount of time or more watching local TV news compared to one year ago;
• 63% watch TV more than 90 minutes per day after dinner;
• 39% watch early evening news while 35% watch late evening news; and
• The most important factors in determining which local news station viewers watch are weather, local news coverage and local events.
“Local television is extremely important because of our local news, community service, weather and our role in promoting community events,” said Mario Iacobelli, MAB Board Chair and President of WWTV/WWUP-TV, Cadillac. “The research validates the work that we do, and encourages broadcasters to continue to make local programming relevant in the lives of our viewers.”
The Donohue Group survey also sought to reveal how new technology may be impacting television viewing. The research shows that use of new technologies is not having a negative impact on viewing, but appears to be used to enhance viewing or in addition to normal viewing patterns.
Among the survey’s findings:
• 78% only use their television to watch the TV channels provided on weekdays. Only 22% use their televisions on weekdays to watch videos;
• 75% do not use a DVR to record programs;
• Most people who do record programs are extending their viewing, that is, they are recording a show because they are watching another television show at the same time; and
• Only 13% use their TV to play video games.
“Michigan citizens are very traditional in the way they watch television,” said Donohue. “They like to sit down and watch their shows from start-to-finish at the time they are normally scheduled. Use of newer technologies is mostly used to enhance the viewing experience.”
The Donohue team conducted research two years ago to determine how newer technologies were affecting radio listener ship. Much like the latest television study, the research showed that emerging media such as satellite radio, Internet and personal players including iPods did not detract from the amount of time citizens were spending listening to their favorite stations.
“New technologies are going to be a part of the media landscape going forward, but our two research projects show that the impact on radio listening and TV viewing is over-hyped,” said Donohue. “As long as local radio and TV continue to provide unique, important local programming to their citizens, broadcasters will continue to maintain strong market shares.”
The Donohue research also surveyed advertising agency executives and local business owners who buy television advertising in their communities, to determine their attitudes on television viewing and the impact of new technologies. Both groups said they found TV to be the most cost effective medium for advertising. Ad agency representatives and local advertisers agreed that television is the primary source for local news and entertainment for Michigan citizens.