How do the economics of car chase news coverage work? How do news channels benefit from switching to live coverage or random car chases?

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I understand that a lot of people are fascinated by police car chases, and that’s fine – I’m not questioning that. But when the local news cuts to continuous live coverage, they are (1) Not running commercials and (2) sometimes pre-empting other coverage they have paid for. And the news coverage is usually objectively NOT worth all the time they are investing in it – it’s usually just a random car thief. Sometimes they go live for an hour or more, just showing a car driving around town with police cars following. How can this be a good business decision for them to make?

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Prisoner’s dilemma.

If no one covers the car chase, no one has to. If everyone covers the car chase, no one gains anything.

Bit the problem comes in when one or more stations cover the car chase and others don’t. People will change the channel to the other stations away from the ones who don’t.

So the only way to make sure that doesn’t happen to you is to always cover car chases. Plus they make good promos for years.

They get higher viewership. This is then calculated into their ad price later. Also, the more eyeballs on your station, the higher the potential for continued viewership after the event, and a favorable impression of the viewer. Gain viewers, and steal them from rival networks. If you don’t, they do and you lose viewers. It’s a tried and true long term strategy. The numbers don’t lie, people reliably watch car chases. They also reliably watch reality TV, talk shows and in the movies, reboots, sequels and for the time being, super heroes. That’s why all this crap sucks, but it’s everywhere.

More eyes on channel A means less eyes on channel B.

Both channels are charging advertisers for time on their network.

The network that pulls in more viewers can command a higher price.