NBC is yet again mulling handing over its 10 pm primetime hour to local affiliates, a move that could have huge ramifications on the other major networks who have done this for decades (the likes of Fox, CW, and other local stations who air news at this hour). CivicScience examined its proprietary data regarding television watching habits related to this topic, and specifically local late news viewing preferences.

Evening Viewing Reigns Supreme 

According to data from the most recent 30 days at time of writing, the majority of adult respondents report watching television between 7 pm and 9 pm most often (43%, n=11,408). Nineteen percent report they most often watch TV during the primetime (9-11 pm) slot. With primetime being a dwindling air time due to streaming competition, this is a figure to keep watching.

Remote Work Drives TV Watching Habits

Hybrid and fully remote work has been sticking around, and it’s no surprise that CivicScience data show that being at home more could impact television viewing habits. Those who work remotely are twice as likely to report watching TV during the day.

10 PM is Preferred for Local News

When it comes to the potential slot that will be open to local affiliates, it is presumed the majority would air local news. Among local news watchers, the majority said they would prefer to watch local late news during the 10 pm slot, compared to 11 pm*. (*Responses will differ by market or region–CivicScience can help slice that information.)

Moreover, a large majority say they watch whatever comes on after the primetime show they tune in for, while another third watch the same late night news programming every night. If NBC were to make this switch, local affiliates should follow this data point like hawks through the lens of their programming.

Don’t Snooze on the News

Of course, bedtime is a factor here. According to CivicScience data from the last month, most American adults go to bed before 11 pm. About a third go to sleep after 11.

Interestingly, those who have the latest bedtimes report watching the most news programming in the average week.

If NBC affiliates were to air local news at 10 pm, the impact would be significant for competitors. CivicScience will continue to track this news item should it go into motion in Fall 2023.