New Delhi: Television viewership hit a record in the seven days leading up to Diwali, shows the latest data from the Broadcast Audience Research Council (Barc) India.

Between 14 and 20 October, the television ratings agency recorded 30.2 billion impressions on the back of Diwali programming, up from 28.6 billion in the previous week. This is the highest number since Barc started measuring viewership in April 2015.

Impressions refer to the number of individuals in thousands of a target audience who viewed an event, averaged across minutes. For the last 13 weeks, Barc has recorded a weekly average of 28.4 billion impressions.

“It is not surprising that impressions were at an all-time high because the Diwali week saw a lot of action in terms of programming. Media wanted to make the most out of the festive week with premium shows and movies," said Navin Khemka, managing partner at Wavemaker, a part of WPP-owned media agency GroupM.

During the week, almost every genre grew on the back of holidays and special programming.

While Hindi movies saw a growth of 11%, Hindi music and youth genres grew 24%. The kids genre saw an 18% growth.

Regional genres like Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam grew 10%, 9%, 15% and 13% respectively.

Telecast of shows like Zee Rishtey Awards and Zee Marathi Awards on 15 October further increased viewership by 87% and 32% respectively, compared to the same time band in the previous four weeks.

Media buyers believe that television channels had an incentive to put up special content during the week as advertising was at its highest.

“Usually, both TV channels and advertisers have eight-ten weeks during the festive season to spread out the programming and advertising. Since Diwali was early this year and companies were coming out of a dull previous quarter due to GST, the options (for programming and advertising) were limited to the long festive weekend," said Khemka of Wavemaker.

Agreed Ashish Bhasin, chairman and chief executive, Dentsu Aegis Network South Asia.

“It is true that festive season sees a high viewership as well as high advertising. Therefore, TV channels put their best content during these days. 40% of overall advertising happens between Ganesh Chaturthi and New Year. Plus, this is the first festive season when Barc’s expanded universe has come into being," he said.

Prior to this, TV viewership was the highest in the seven days between 12 August and 18 August at 29.16 billion.

The numbers for this year’s Diwali week may not be comparable with last year’s data as the increase in viewership can to an extent be attributed to Barc’s expansion of the measurement universe earlier in March.

Barc India had recently updated and aligned its TV universe in line with ground level changes in demographics, TV ownership and connection type among other things. After the update in March 2017, total television households in the country rose to 183 million from 154 million in 2013.