As the news surrounding COVID-19 continues to dominate every other topic in the US, consumers are turning to local news to find the most relevant content to their communities.

Numbers from market researchers Nielsen show rising local TV viewership that tracks where the virus outbreak has hit worst.

Virus victims first emerged in numbers on the West Coast, and it was San Francisco, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Seattle that saw the biggest spikes in local TV news viewing between early February and early March, Nielsen says. During the period, local news audiences were up 38% in San Francisco, and 25% in LA among the 25–54 age group.

And it’s not only local TV content that is part of the “go local” phenomenon: hyperlocal news platform Patch has experienced its best-ever period in March for both revenue and traffic, according to CEO Warren St John.

Last month the platform almost doubled its average page views from 85 million to 148 million across its network of local sites, Axios reported. It saw 48 million unique visitors during the same month compared to an average of 30 million. The company says it also added 150,000 email subscribers during the month, taking its total to 2.3 million.

The platform generates revenue by encouraging readers to become free subscribers and then targets them with site sponsorships. It also sells events listings using its Calendar service. St John has previously stressed the need for the platform to move away from advertising as the sole source of revenue. As advertising is usually priced on number of page views, it doesn’t work for hyperlocal news sites whose content is often relevant to only a small number of people.

As with many other brands during the crisis, Patch has been looking at ways to help the wider community, making some of its paid-for products free for local businesses.

And it also recently teamed with Flipboard, the curated content platform, with COVID-19 coverage to the fore.

St John said, “It is essential for Patch to partner with platforms to reach relevant audiences. Our local coronavirus coverage consists of almost 200 stories per day and this integration with Flipboard’s local initiative will increase discovery of this important information.”

Sourced from NIelsen, Axios, Yahoo FInance