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Vince Vitrano: Not For Broadcast



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We were on the air with local storm coverage for approximately 12 and a half straight hours.

Some people think that was a bad idea. I heard from some of them directly via email. We took phone calls in the newsroom. The usual suspects teased and bashed us for "over-hyping" the storm, and unnecessarily going wall to wall storm coverage.

Let me state first I respect all of that criticism. That said, I'm going to tell you why I think they're wrong. You're free to disagree and I encourage your emails as part of this dialog.

I'm going to share with you some of the ratings from yesterday that prove it was wise for us to offer continuing coverage of yesterday's storm.  

The first two hours of the Today Show on Monday had, according to the ratings, fewer than 40,000 viewers. Those same two hours yesterday, when we were in Weather Plus Storm Team Coverage, had more than 80,000 viewers. Double the number of people who normally watch the Today Show tuned in for our weather coverage.

Today Show hour 3 on Monday had fewer than 5,000 viewers. The same time slot during weather coverage had nearly 40,000. Today Show hour 4 on Monday fewer than 20,000 viewers. Same time period during weather coverage, nearly 70,000 viewers.

Even Days of Our Lives couldn't beat our weather coverage. The same time slot yielded about 17,000 more viewers during weather coverage than running the steamy soap opera. Who knew snow was sexier than Sammy and Lucas making out all hour. (I watched the show in college. Amazing, some of the same people are still sleeping around with the same other people more than a decade later.)

I'd continue with the comparisons, but you get the point. Every part of the day where we interrupted our normal programming for extended weather coverage, we had tens of thousands more people watching.

The ratings read like a daily survey. The results of our survey from yesterday clearly show that viewers responded to our expanded weather coverage. It's what they want, and it's why we continue to give it to them. It's just that simple.

I've always told people if there's something on T.V. that you don't like the most powerful response you can have is to turn it off. When people stop watching, changes start happening. Conversely, when the numbers like yesterday so clearly show a major bump, we'll mimic what caused it whenever possible.

Another important point about that extended coverage I want to make. A lot of people have said to me that they appreciate the coverage, but find the duration excessive. Fair point. Who needs 12 plus hours of Weather Plus Coverage? Well, truth be told we're glad to have you folks who kept Channel 4 on all day long, but our coverage in these situations is generally designed to cycle through about every 20 minutes.

We expect people to come to us for a storm update when they wake up, before they leave for work, before they take the kids out, maybe when they get home from work, whatever. I'm saying we want to be there for viewers diverse needs. We expect them to check in, get an update on the storm and conditions, and then probably go about their business. If you watch all day long, you'll see things repeat themselves. It's the nature of that kind of extended coverage.

Ultimately we want to serve the viewer, but we know what makes some people happy will not agree with some others. We're trying to make the most people happy most of the time, and the numbers show we do that when we give people storm coverage live.





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