The US Capitol Riots drove record-breaking news audiences across broadcast channels, digital platforms, and live stream viewership.

What 2021’s Chaotic Start Can Teach You About News Viewers

Coming off a 2020 year that was so newsworthy that we likely won’t forget it for the rest of our lives, the beginning of 2021 proved to be just as chaotic. Less than a week into The New Year, people across the world were stunned as they watched a massive riot unfold at the US Capitol as congress formalized the results of the 2020 US Election. While the events unfolding on-screen were unignorable, the viewership stats from that day proved to be a massive story for the news industry at large.

Coming off a streak-continuing 2020 year for news channels in the United States, the news coverage around the US Capitol Riots drove historic, record-breaking viewing audiences across television, digital platforms, and even live streams.

If you’re working for a news network, the stats behind these records have lessons to teach about how and where you can grow your viewing audience. In this article, we’re going to focus on how you can apply these lessons to your news productions and media asset management workflows.




Record-Breaking Audiences Across Broadcast and Digital

On January 6th, 2021 – the day of the US Capitol Riots – approximately 30 million viewers tuned into the major US news networks via broadcast and cable television.1 By the day’s end, several networks had their most-watched day in history, with each seeing 3-5 million viewers tune-in throughout the day.

Not all of this action was taking place on traditional broadcast and cable television. Digital platforms also saw chart-stopping statistics. Tens of millions of unique visitors engaged with websites and smartphone applications during the day’s events. In some instances, the single-day total was host to more traffic than networks usually saw over two weeks. Views of video content and live-streams were also higher than ever before. In some cases, broadcasters were so keen to capitalize on this massive influx of traffic that they removed cable authentication for viewers to provide access to live streams without obstacle.

While the dramatic nature of the US Capitol Riots plays a large role in driving these numbers, they still have something to tell you about why viewers tune into the news, where they’re seeking content, and how you can become their go-to source.

So, how can you apply these lessons in your news production workflows?

Breaking News Coverage is King

First and foremost, viewing audiences are coming to news channels and platforms to understand major breaking news events as they unfold. They want to stay up-to-date as stories are developing in real-time, get the standout facts of what’s happening, and have it all put into a rational context. Despite the yearly predictions of pundits regarding the death of traditional broadcast and cable television, record-scale, prime-viewing audiences are still tuning into these channels around breaking news events. Additionally, newer digital platforms and OTT channels are gaining viewership the same way.

A lot goes into cultivating breakings news coverage that captivates audiences, but what can you do in your studio to contribute? Adapt the visual-storytelling aspects of your news production to be more adaptive to breaking news events. Your news graphics, lower thirds, video walls, on-set monitors, and news ticker – all of these elements come together to tell a visual story that is just as important as what your on-air anchor says directly to the audience. The key to making these elements better-suited to breaking news is to drive them through event-based logic.

Make Your Shows Rapidly-Adaptable to Breaking News Events

With the PRIME Live Platform, switching your regular graphics into a breaking news style is seamless. PRIME is a content-aware system that excels in handling data and using it to drive dynamic changes to your graphic assets in real-time. In the case of breaking news, you can set event-based logic to trigger breaking news alert animations and reskin all graphics that you’re using in your show. The data you use to inform this event is up to you. Send the command from an automation system, manual operator control from a production switcher, a trigger in your NRCS rundown, or the use of a specific graphic itself.

Remember, PRIME is more than a graphics system – it’s a platform that can drive your video monitors, branding elements, video walls, touchscreens, and even augmented reality elements. All these production elements exist as subchannels within the PRIME Platform that are easy to control simultaneously with a single command. Since these are real-time graphics and media systems, nothing requires pre-rendering, and everything happens live. When you trigger a breaking news event, all your studio elements will transition to tell the story in a way that’s visually engaging and fast-paced for the discerning news viewer. At one major network leveraging PRIME for the entire gamut of studio elements, they utilize a simple UDP command that transmits across PRIME systems to initiate this breaking news transition. Any graphic templates that are in use will then reskin and transition to the breaking news style.

People Are Turning to Digital News Platforms in Droves

There’s a reason that digital platforms tend to see ten times the amount of visitors than broadcast channels see viewers. They’re easy-to-access via an internet browser or smartphone application, and younger demographics are far more likely to forgo a cable television package than they are internet service. Plus, when you catch wind of a big news story that may affect your day-to-day life, it’s easy to pick-up your phone, Google the topic, and start learning.

Digital platforms require loads of media content to be successful. You may have a gallery of highlight clips from your shows, tailored video + graphics to complement online articles, and live streams of your day-to-day programming. How can you keep your digital platform topped-up without putting stress on your live broadcast systems or adding additional hardware? With an effective media asset management workflow, your editorial teams can generate the assets they need to drive digital content.

Producer-Driven Workflows Enable More Digital Content

In our experience, when you give producers and journalists the means to generate their own content for stories, productivity and output soar. Through our CAMIO workflow for MOS-driven graphics template management – your editorial teams can leverage the templates from your art department to create unique assets and package them for digital publishing. Whether it’s a graphic from PRIME CG, a multi-layer video from PRIME Clips, or even a map-based forecast graphic from Chyron Weather – CAMIO transforms these assets into reusable, dynamically-editable assets. Directly from your NRCS of choice, your teams can now edit the text in your lower third, media within the graphic, different color schemes for your shows, etc.

The different graphics an editorial team can produce with Axis

AXIS World Graphics takes this a step further. AXIS is a cloud-based platform for on-demand graphics order management. With AXIS, editorial teams can easily generate bespoke graphics with new media elements, maps, and charts.

What brings this all together for a high-velocity digital content pipeline is CAMIO’s MediaMaker render engine. As your editorial team crafts new graphics, MediaMaker can render them out without drawing on the live graphics system. Producers can generate the media they need without an artist and package it as a story for publishing. The best part is, your team is now creating stories at the speed and volume necessary to deliver compelling breaking news coverage online.

How Can You Grow Your News Audience in 2021?

Your viewers depend on you for the stories that matter. Engaged viewers keep ratings high and advertisers happy. If the start of 2021 has taught us anything, it’s that producing compelling content quickly has never been more important. The good news is, you can meet this challenge while reducing the overall stress on your team. Streamlining graphics and media elements of your in-studio productions with event-based data triggers makes it far easier to produce a fast-paced, visually-stunning show. Meanwhile, empowering your producers and journalists to generate the content they need for digital platforms – without pulling on the art department – can keep the stories flowing to your online audience.

Contact our Chyron experts today to discover how you can grow your audience in 2021.





  1. Capitol Insurrection Drives Huge Audience to TV News, Rick Porter, The Hollywood Reporter, 2021
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