Weather.com is looking more ominous than The Drudge Report with a headline against a red background that reads “HURRICANE IRENE: Assault on East Coast Begins.”

Several have e-mailed asking how something like this impacts the ratings since it will potentially impact so many more people than Hurricane Katrina. In 2005, TV by the Numbers wasn’t even a glimmer in our eyes, and I don’t have any of the relevant ratings comparisons for that period (I’m trying to dig it up).

There are at least a few ways this will impact ratings:

  • a boon for local channels news coverage, nationals cable news coverage and The Weather Channel
  • a potential TV ratings boon in general with many more people choosing to play it safe at home leading to a viewership surge
  • a potential burden to ratings if there are widespread power outages

My guess purely from a ratings perspectives is that the power outages would have to so widespread that I don’t even want to think about it, for it to offset potential increases in TV viewership.

We’re snarky about a lot of things, but 65 million people potentially in the path of a hurricane isn’t one of them. I’m still rooting for Irene to tucker herself out on land, or blow herself out into the Atlantic and foil the ratings gains for cable newsers and The Weather Channel, but the probably scenarios at this point look pretty grim.

We hope all of our east coast friends, family and, of course, our readers, stay safe.

Posted by:TV By The Numbers

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