Having a Heat Wave

It has been an unusually hot summer, and I don’t know about you, but when I get hot, I immediately think of local news. I want to check the weather and see what Mother Nature has in store for me. And I am not the only one. Rentrak’s TV viewing data shows that viewers tune in to local news to get a better picture of the need to pack in more lemonade (or beer).

To do a little test of the hypothesis that local news benefits from the heat, I looked at Des Moines for the month of June. I started with the premise that Monday through Friday news and weather behavior deserved to be looked at in isolation, given the work week and the content of the news. Therefore, I averaged the daily maximum temperatures for the month from the National Climatic Data Center Preliminary Monthly Estimates for the weekdays (Monday through Friday) and then indexed each weekday against that average temperature. You can see the daily maximum temperatures below.

I then pulled the average ratings for Early Fringe and Late Fringe news programs (over 200 telecasts) for the same days from Rentrak’s StationView Essentials for the Des Moines market. I averaged them and indexed each day against the average. You can see the daily averages below.

I then slapped the indices together in a statistical analysis and voila! It didn’t work. The fit was weak. There were a couple of days, like June 15th where the news just popped up and the model was out of whack. What was going on?

I then realized that local is indeed local. Des Moines is suffering from a terrible drought. It isn’t just heat that would drive Iowans to their TV news; it is also the chance and actuality of rain. When I threw in the rainfall during the month, the model worked well with a R2 of .61. The chart below shows the results. The rainfall on the 15th did in fact drive up local news viewership.

June in Des Moines shows the continued relevance of local news in an important aspect of peoples’ lives – even in this day of instant information.

Has anyone ever tried lemonade in beer?

In case you don’t know, I am Bruce Goerlich, Chief Research Officer at Rentrak, the global standard in movie measurement and your TV Everywhere measurement and research company. I have been in the research end of the marketing business for more than 30 years primarily on the ad agency side, with my last stint prior to Rentrak in the role of President, Strategic Resources Zenith Optimedia North America. Somewhere along the way I morphed from young Turk to old fogey. Now that I have grey hair and am horizontally-challenged, I can speak with some authority on advertising and research issues – which I will do from time-to-time on this blog.

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One thought on “Having a Heat Wave

  1. Pingback: The Winter of Our Discontent… But Not for Local News | BruceGoerlich.com

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