The Revealed Demand for Hard vs. Soft News: Evidence from Italian TV Viewership
38 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2021 Last revised: 18 Nov 2021
Date Written: July 2021
We analyze minute-by-minute, individual level data on viewership for Italian TV news broadcasts (from AUDITELTM), matched with detailed data on content (from Osservatorio di Pavia). We are interested in the behavior of viewers, and in particular in their decision to switch away from a news program as a function of the type of story they are currently watching. Somewhat surprisingly, we find that “soft” news systematically induces viewers to switch away, even more than “hard” news. On the other hand, sensational stories about crime, accidents and disasters are associated with less switching. We also find significant differences in this switching behavior according to gender, age, and the specific TV channel being watched. For example, young people are relatively more likely to switch away from hard news than soft news, compared to older people.
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