Home/ News / India/  Amid Covid-19 lockdown, time spent on TV, smartphone surges

NEWDELHI : The Covid-19 outbreak has brought unprecedented change to lives across the world, including India. As people stay indoors, work from home and look for ways to keep themselves engaged, television viewing and smartphone usage have registered an expected rise.

Weekly television viewing time in India went by 8% during 1 Feb to 15 March as compared to 1-31 January while time spent per user on smartphones in a week has risen by 6% in the same period. These are the findings of a report jointly brought out by television monitoring agency BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) and data and measurement firm Nielsen.

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.

Viewing time for television has increased by over 70 billion minutes in India with average daily viewers growing by 32 million, and each of the 592 million viewers watching TV daily for 3 hours 51 minutes. Growth in Hindi-speaking regions has been higher (10%) than the South (5%). People staying at home means they are watching TV throughout the day and hence the growth in viewing is coming during non-prime time slots (8am-5 pm).

Further, the growth has been driven by younger audiences; viewership in the 2-14 years group has risen by 20%, followed by 15-21 years (7%) and 31-40 years(6%). Also, the 2-14 year olds are not just consuming kids content, their viewership of news (83%) and movies (24%) has increased too.

In fact, growth in all languages has been driven by news consumption. In Hindi, for example, news has grown by 62%, followed by movies (13%).

Despite inclination towards streaming platforms and niche content, metros too have reported an increase in TV viewing, including in Delhi (22%), Mumbai (28%), Kolkata (19%) and Bengaluru (17%).

Consequently, advertising FCT (free commercial time) has risen by 13%, with social advertising (147%), banking and finance (47%) and food and beverage (36%), leading the growth curve.

Unsurprisingly, people are also looking at online entertainment to keep themselves engaged. Time spent on smartphones per user in a week has increased by one-and-a-half hours, with maximum increase seen in usage by 35-44 year olds (11%) followed by 15-24 year olds (7%). Metros (6%) and mini-metros (8%) lead as far as rise in time spent goes, followed by tier-one (2%) and tier-two (6%) cities.

Lata Jha
Lata Jha covers media and entertainment for Mint. She focuses on the film, television, video and audio streaming businesses. She is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism. She can be found at the movies, when not writing about them.
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Updated: 27 Mar 2020, 11:55 PM IST
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