Home >News >India >Covid-19 impact: TV news viewership grows 298%

NEW DELHI: People staying home during the 21-day nationwide lockdown are closely tracking news and current affairs to stay informed.

News consumption across languages has grown 298% in the post lockdown period compared to the one preceding it, according to data released by television monitoring agency BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council).

News is clearly driving the growth in overall TV viewership that has seen a 37% spike across India. The share of news in overall TV viewership has risen to 21% from 7%.

The findings are part of the second report BARC has brought out along with data measurement firm Nielsen on TV viewership and smartphone usage amid the covid-19 outbreak. It is titled Crisis Consumption: An Insights Series Into TV, Smartphones and Audiences.

BARC and Nielsen have looked at January as the pre-covid period and compared it with mid-March. While the spike in viewing was been observed across urban and rural India in people above two years of age, smartphone usage was tracked across 12,000, 15-44 year-old Android smartphone users.

Business news in itself has grown 180%. In comparison, the infotainment, movies and kids genre has grown by 63%, 56% and 39% respectively. GECs have seen a 3% given that all production activities have been stalled and networks are currently running on reruns of old hits.

Further, it is clear that viewers chose to search for more news through multiple channels during the period of lockdown. According to BARC, usually 30% of Hindi news viewers watch only one channel, this dropped to 18%. The share of those viewing the top six channels (Aaj Tak, India TV, Republic Bharat, Zee News, ABP News, News18 India) has gone up to 17% of the overall Hindi news audience segment, as compared to 8% during the Lok Sabha elections and 7% during the Babri Masjid verdict.

In prime-time slots, the news genre has grown 252%, including 260% in the Hindi-speaking markets and 232% in the south. In the non-prime time slots, it has grown by 344%, including 385% in the Hindi-speaking markets and 283% in the south.

“Our frontline reporters, editors, camera persons, technicians and support staff have been bringing round-the-clock coverage of news tirelessly. We believe, in such times, the strength of a network comes to play to its best," Avinash Kaul, chief executive officer, television news, Network18, said in a statement.

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