5 Compelling Reasons News Broadcasters Should Use Live Opinion Polling

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Female reporter on local news

Local television news is vital to communities across America.  Where else can you see when the storm will hit, get results for a local election, and watch a feature on a neighborhood cat who graduated college? 

According to the Pew Research Center, 86% of Americans tune into local television news regularly. According to a Poynter Media Trust survey, 76% of Americans trust their local news sources – more than any other form of media. Local news hits close to home. 

That is why it’s crucial that local broadcast stations find ways to get their viewers involved and tuned in. To do so, they must have a deep understanding of what is most important to their communities. 

One way that some news outlets have had success is through interactive opinion polling. In a digitally connected world, live feedback and viewer involvement are vital to keeping local news relevant. It’s also a way stations can learn what stories are most important to their viewers.  

With no further ado, here are five compelling reasons you should use opinion polls and surveys on your local news broadcast. 


  1. Build New Revenue Streams

While the importance of local news is hard to overstate, production budgets remain fairly flat. New revenue opportunities are therefore very important.  

When Derek Jeffery, General Manager of KGET in Bakersfield, California, started doing live opinion polling on the evening news, he realized he had an opportunity. By allowing local businesses to sponsor the daily polls, he created value for KGET and for the sponsors. 

Local businesses jump at the opportunity to get their brand out there, which Jeffery knows because the poll has sold out from day one. Advertisers get a large, engaged, focused group of eyeballs – and KGET gets new revenue. 

“Advertisers love it because they know there are 50,000 people watching and seeing their logo and then then the 1000+ respondents per day who follow it to their social media or desktop when they answer the question,” says Jeffery.   


  1. Increase Viewer Engagement

When watching the local news, people often just want to feel heard. The use of interactive opinion polls on news broadcasts has the potential to engage viewers in a big way.  

KGET found exactly that when they started to include opinion polling in the newscasts.  

“Every time we ask a question, we get no less than 1000 respondents, which is larger than the pool of other polling done in the market,” says Jeffery. 

Opinion polling on news topics helps make the audience’s voice heard, on the topics that interest them most. 


  1. Source for Editorial Ideas

Another way opinion polls can benefit a local news station is by providing story ideas.  

The KGET editorial team gets insights from poll results to help them understand which issues are most important to their audience, and how strongly the community feels one way or the other.  

Polling can also shed light on changing community demographics. For instance, if a population is aging, the station could see this reflected in responses and cover topics of interest to that demographic. 

The added benefit for KGET has been the connection between the broadcaster and the audience, which is sometimes difficult to achieve. The two-way communication builds a deeper connection and gives the audience a role in the nightly newscast. 

  1. Make the News Fun 

Opinion polling and surveys allow broadcasters to use the concept of gamification to their benefit. Gamification is the use of popular gaming elements to encourage desired behaviors. For instance, earning badges or points by responding several times. 

Following the success of KGET’s polls, General Manager Derek Jeffery wanted to encourage deeper engagement and motivate people to pay closer attention to the station’s newscasts. He began experimenting with quizzes. Asking viewers questions about recent news events covered by KGET and scoring them on the number of right answers provided made watching the news fun, engaging, and habit-forming.   

 “In 2022, people are faster to react and engage… responses are only increasing.  Other traditional census polling in the area don’t get the interaction we get in one of our newscasts,” says Jeffery. 

  1. Keep Viewers Tuned In

Increasing the “stickiness” of viewership is a goal of local broadcasters. Polling and quizzing are one way to keep them tuned in and coming back.  

If viewers want to know the results of a poll or to see if their quiz answers were right, they have an incentive to keep watching. News stations can take advantage of this by teasing out the results throughout the broadcast. For example: ask a question at 4 pm, tease the results through the 5 pm show, and say you will release the results at 6 pm.   


As you can see, opinion polling in local news broadcasts has many potential benefits. To read the full Use Case of how KGET local news used Digital Joy Engage to increase their viewer engagement, click here. To learn how Engage can help you easily add branded opinion polling on your station, visit https://www.digitaljoy.media/engage/ 

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