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Survey: Local Broadcast TV Still Dominant Source of News in ‘Fake News’ Era

Local broadcast TV remains the dominant source of news and information for adults in the U.S. amid growing concern about the spread of “fake news” online. That’s the takeaway from a recent survey conducted by research firm SmithGeiger in connection with the National Assn. of Broadcasters annual confab this week in Las Vegas.

The survey of 1,007 people in the 18-54 age range found that 72% of adults 18-54 get some news and information from local TV stations via TV, websites and news apps. The majority of all age groups receive news and information each week from a broadcaster (59% of ages 18-24; 67% of ages 25-34; 75% of ages 35-44; and 81% of ages 45-54).

A majority of survey respondents also rated local news programs as their most “trusted” source of news: 56% of ages 18-24, 53% of ages 25-34; 54% of ages 35-44; and 51% of ages 45-54.

“This is a significant development in the era of ‘fake news,’ especially when more than half of even the youngest adult viewers feel that way,” said Seth Geiger, president and co-founder of SmithGeiger. “We see media consumers are watching a whole lot of TV across a variety of devices. Although streaming, time shifting and non-linear is growing, 80% are still watching live TV.”

The survey found that for TV viewing overall, respondents spent three hours and 13 minutes a day watching linear TV, and an additional three hours and 15 minutes on streaming platforms, some of which overlap. The survey found that SVOD viewing is up 41% over last year. But live TV viewing is also on the rise, up 26% from last year.

SmithGeiger unveiled its research about the broadcast TV marketplace on Sunday during the NAB’s inaugural half-day summit Senior Leadership Summit, focusing on the many changes in the business landscape for local TV as well as the industry’s response to the #MeToo movement, and other concerns.

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