ABC News Live More Than Doubles Its Audience in Six Months

How TV Showrunners Are Handling COVID Storylines: ‘Do People Really Want to Watch This?’

ABC News

ABC News Live More Than Doubles Its Audience in Six Months — Just in Time for the Election

Anchor Linsey Davis tells TheWrap that timing and the ability to deliver context without time constraints led viewership to surge

From March to August, ABC News Live averaged 23 million monthly viewers — more than double its streaming audience from the previous six months. Anchor Linsey Davis attributes the 118% surge in views mostly to timing.

“I think it was our timing in large part and also, hopefully, we’re really delivering content and analysis in a way that people aren’t finding necessarily in other streaming space,” Davis told TheWrap.

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She pointed out that the new iteration of ABC News Live, the network’s streaming service, launched Feb. 3, just as COVID-19 cases were being reported in America and the primary race was heating up.

Streaming news caters to the cord-cutters who have forgone cable but still have “a hunger for facts and news of the day.” It offers more context, too, Davis added, which is the second reason she thinks it’s taken off so much. Without the time restraints of traditional news shows, streaming news can take “a second bite at the apple to really dive in a little bit deeper.”

The appeal of streaming news has been noted elsewhere during this election, too: In October, NBC News defended its decision to schedule a town hall with President Donald Trump that conflicted with ABC News’ town hall with Joe Biden, in part, by pointing out that when Biden had his own NBC town hall the previous week, two million viewers streamed it instead of watching on traditional television. The shift toward streaming as a more convenient way to find out about the major events of the election is clear. A curious news consumer no longer has to be at home in front of their TV at a set time to get their information.

Streaming news is competitive. ABC News says its streaming platform got 9.6 million views for its coverage of the first presidential debate between Biden and Trump — which is more than the ratings totals some networks saw for the event. The 9.6 million views weren’t concurrent, either, pointing to the flexibility of streaming platforms to cater to viewers’ schedules, not dictate them.

As for what it all means ahead of Tuesday’s big election, Davis says streaming viewers can expect “no spin,” just facts. Given concerns that the results of Tuesday’s face-off won’t be known for days but news outlets have historically made — and walked back — major declarations on election nights past, that’s a particularly key sticking point.

“That’s refreshing in a time where there is a lot of spin and there is a lot of political leaning,” she said. “We’re just going to be reporting data, statistics and facts as it comes into our newsroom.”

Lindsey Ellefson