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Weather and climate-related stories and high school sports are the leading drivers of out-of-market viewers to local streaming newscasts in 2021 according to data released by Gray Television-backed VUit, a free, ad-supported national streaming service aiming to be the “Netflix of Live, Local, and free.” The platform, which carries more than 200 local station newscasts covering 83% of the nation’s DMAs, has seen its viewership minutes triple in the past year, as viewers have turned to the platform with an increased appetite for a true local lens and perspective into major news and cultural events of interest to them outside of their current hometown.
According to VUit’s 2021 year-end data, news stories about the weather and climate-related events were the biggest drivers for viewers to stream local newscasts on its platform this year. Seven of the top nine most-watched news events on VUit were weather related with Hurricane Ida driving the largest lift of any specific weather event to local station newscasts, followed by the multi-state tornado event Dec. 10, with other winter storms, and West Coast fires also being of great interest to viewers to tune into newsstreams outside of their current hometown.
Beyond hard news, high school sports and high school graduations streamed on VUit were highly appealing to audiences across the country. For example, WYMT Lexington, Ky., attracted viewers from close to 60 markets for their broadcast of high school sports events. Meanwhile Linn Mar High School’s graduation stream from KCRG Cedar Rapids, Iowa, reached well beyond