The television viewership in the country witnessed a rise of 6% to 592 million viewers between 14 – 20 March 2020 (week 11) when compared to January 11-31, 2020 (week 2) as per the data provided by TV audience measurement body, Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) (Across Genre : All India (Urban+Rural) in collaboration with Nielsen. Titled, ‘COVID-19 IMPACT: What’s Happening in the TV and Smartphone Landscape’, the report also highlights TV viewing minutes per week went up by 8% to 959 billion minutes as average time spent rose by 2% to three hours and 51 minutes in week 11 as compared to the pre-COVID-19 period (week 2).
With the government initiating a lockdown of 21 days and people confined to home, the TV viewership grew 8% with news channels leading the growth chart with 57% growth followed by kids genre witnessing 33% growth. Movie channels, as per the report, grew 14% while general entertainment channels (GEC) witnessed only a percentage growth. Also, Hindi consumption grew 7%, English speaking channels witnessed a 19% drop in total viewership.
The report also reveals that demographically, the 2-14 years age group recorded the highest increase in viewership with 20%. Moreover, metropolitan cities recorded a 22% increase in viewership with Mumbai witnessing 28% growth, followed by Delhi with 22%. Since people are staying at home and are able to consume TV throughout the day, the growth in TV viewing is coming during non-prime time slots (8am – 5 pm).
As for advertisement volumes, the overall ad volume grew 13% in week 11 as compared to the pre-COVID-19 period. Social advertisements recorded the highest spike with a 147% increase followed by banking and financial services with a 47% rise in ad insertions and foods and beverages at 36%, the report stated.
“News genre has seen a growth in ad insertions, however, it is too early to comment on other genres,” Sunil Lulla, chief executive officer, BARC India, said.
The report, which also revealed data on content consumption on smartphones, highlighted how content consumption on smartphones has increased by 6% with users spending 1.4 hours a day more on their devices in week 11. While the maximum increase has been between the 35-44 year age group, tier 2 cities showed the highest growth at 8%, followed by metros at 6%.
News apps saw 8% more users per week with an increase of 17% in time spent/user/week. This growth was led by non-English News apps (+87%). Gaming apps saw an increase of 2% in users/week and with an 11% increase in time spent/user/week. Meanwhile, social media apps recorded 25% growth while messaging apps saw a 23% rise on time spent. Almost all social networking apps – Facebook, Instagram and TikTok have seen significant increases not only in time spent /user/week but also in the sessions/ user/ week. Interestingly, shopping apps, travel apps and food apps have seen a huge drop in both users/ week and time spent/user/week.
Dolly Jha, country leader Nielsen Global Media, South Asia, anticipates this to grow further, “We are living through unprecedented times! physical social distancing seems to have led to phenomenal growth in virtual social togetherness with an almost 20% increase in time spent per user on chats, social media and news in the last one week,” she added.
Breaking all record, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation on March 24 announcing the 21-day lockdown was the biggest single event on TV so far, as it was watched by 197 million viewers as per BARC’s preview data.