While many marketers have shifted budgets to digital platforms and streaming in recent years, traditional broadcast television remains a powerful advertising channel. Studies show investing in local news, live sports, and major broadcast networks continues to deliver strong ROI compared to other options. Here’s a look at data revealing why broadcast TV should still have a place in media plans.

The Reach of Broadcast & Local News

Broadcast networks like ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX still deliver enormous audiences, especially for live events and local news. Data from Nielsen shows:

  • Average viewership for broadcast primetime is still over 8 million viewers per night.
  • ABC World News Tonight draws over 7.5 million viewers daily.
  • Local early evening news averages over 10 million viewers across 20 major markets.

This reach persists despite cord-cutting and streaming gains. Broadcast networks are still available for free over-the-air in most US households. Per eMarketer, 79% of US adults watched broadcast TV in 2021, compared to just 62% for cable networks.

For advertisers, this makes broadcast news and live sports an efficient way to reach mass audiences. TV also retains an advantage for targeting local markets specifically. Commercials during local news provide granular reach within DMAs.

Strong Engagement for News & Live Sports

In addition to wide reach, broadcast TV drives higher attention and engagement levels that translate to stronger advertising ROI.

Unlike streaming or online video, broadcast TV offers an immersive, distraction-free viewing experience. Per Nielsen, over 85% of broadcast TV viewing happens live versus on DVR.

Live news and sports keep viewers glued to TV in real-time. A 2021 study by Effectv found ad viewability on local news was over 93% compared to just 73% on streaming video. Fully viewable ads deliver higher memorability and purchase intent lift.

Broadcast also builds communal engagement. The water cooler effect from shared cultural viewing occasions like live sports and award shows amplifies brand impact.

Universally Attractive Content & Trusted Sources

Unlike digital platforms saturated with niche content, broadcast programming appeals to mass audiences. Local news, national news, and live sports are broadly popular. This helps ads reach diverse demographic segments efficiently.

Broadcast news also benefits from high trust perceptions, especially local news. Per Gallup, 56% of US adults say they have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of trust in broadcast news media. Local news anchors and meteorologists are seen as authoritative voices in the community.

This perception of integrity rubs off positively on advertising. Brands that align with trusted broadcast programming can improve consumer opinion and gain a valuable halo effect.

Superior ROI for Brand Building

While digital ads promise hyper-targeting, broadcast TV continues to deliver superior ROI for big-picture brand building, driven by its broad reach and engagement.

According to Nielsen, broadcast ads generate a 19% higher lift in brand awareness compared to cable. Data also shows combining TV and digital in a cross-media strategy improves campaign ROI by up to 30%.

Specifically for local advertising, a study by WRAL-TV found that on average, every $1 spent on local broadcast TV generated $6 in sales revenue for advertisers. This demonstrates local broadcast’s value for driving conversions.

Streaming Disrupts Digital Video, Not Broadcast

While streaming has disrupted digital video ad budgets, its impact on broadcast TV has been less severe. According to research firm Kantar, ad spend on streaming grew 57% between 2019 and 2021. However, most of this came from digital video budgets, not TV.

Their analysis shows for each $1 shifted from digital to streaming, only $0.19 was taken from TV budgets. Streaming complements broadcast as on-demand viewing, while most broadcast consumption remains live.

Opportunity in Fragmented Streaming Market

As major networks launch streaming additions to their broadcast channels, marketers also have an opportunity to capitalize on expanding inventory.

NBCUniversal’s Peacock, Paramount’s Pluto TV, and other new streaming channels offer digital scale to complement the core linear broadcast offering. As these services grow audiences, advertising on streaming extensions can bolster overall broadcast buys.

The Value Remains

While viewing habits and technology have changed, broadcast television maintains strong advantages for advertisers. The wide reach, high engagement, and trusted content provided by local news, live sports, and network programs create an enduring value for brands. Maintaining presence on broadcast TV should remain a key strategy for driving brand awareness, local activation, and sales conversions well into the future.

Rather than a broadcast-or-streaming either-or decision, savvy marketers will leverage both in a hybrid model. Combining the brand-building power of broadcast with the targeting precision of streaming can maximize results in today’s fragmented media landscape.