Home >News >India >TV news doubled share, non-primetime kids viewing grew 31% in peak lockdown

NEW DELHI: The covid-induced lockdown augured well for television news with its viewership share growing to 14.6% from 7.6% owing to people’s hunger for covid updates, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s multiple addresses to the nation and aggressive coverage of actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death. With schools shut, children too added to growth in kid’s channels.

However, both genres settled at lower growth rates for the full year. Overall TV viewership surged 18% during peak lockdown, finishing though at 9% higher in 2020 than 2019, said TV monitoring agency BARC India in its annual report.

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As restrictions were eased, news dropped in its share to 9.9% during unlock and 7.3% by the end of the year. According to a TAM AdEX report, average ad volumes per day on the news genre grew 5% in 2020 compared to 2019, with highest resurgence seen during the festive quarter where they commanded up to 11.1% of monthly share of ad volumes.

“Advertisers realized the importance of the news genre with corona and other economic disruptions, state elections, political developments and so on that made people curious about what was happening around them because of prevailing uncertainties," Avinash Pandey, CEO, ABP Network said. Viewers turn to TV channels to verify what they hear or read on social media and for in-depth coverage, and not breaking news as was the case earlier, Pandey added.

Karan Taurani, research analyst at Elara Capital Ltd agreed news did benefit at the expense of other TV genres this year which may have registered 15% decline in advertising as compared to 6-7% for news during the lockdown.

“While other genres will bounce back this year, news should maintain its flattish growth thanks to uncertainties around vaccination and the spread of the virus continuing which is good enough for them," Taurani said.

With people locked up at home and spreading their TV viewing through the day, non-prime time hours emerged as the new prime-time for the small screen through 2020, BARC said. Viewing for non-prime time for GEC (general entertainment channels) grew by 16% over the year, of news by 26%, and kids by 31%, as compared to 2019. Share of non-primetime viewing in total TV viewership rose from 51% in 2019 to 53% in 2020.

Further, thanks to the free time people had on hand with few new entertainment offerings, weekly viewing minutes for GECs grew by 9% in 2020 as compared to the previous year, and of movies, news and the kids genre by 10%, 27% and 27% respectively. Music and youth channels and sports, on the other hand, saw viewership fall by 11% and 35% respectively.

However, different genres saw a churn in TV viewership share during the year. Due to lack of original programming, GECs that commanded 52.2% of the pie before covid, saw their share drop to 43.6% during the lockdown, rise to 51.7% as originals returned to screens and grow to 54.5% by the end of the year. Movies, on the other hand, grew to 26.4% during the lockdown from 23.4% before it, then fell to 23.5% and 21.3% by the end of the year.

The share of non-primetime in full day viewership of GECs rose from 44% in 2019 to 46% in 2020, of movies from 54% to 55%, of kids from 71% to 73%.

“2020 made a point when it came to television advertising and content consumption in India. Audience data reinforces the fact that television continues to be the screen of the Indian household. With over 100 million homes yet to receive a TV set, television viewing is yet to reach its true potential and has a strong opportunity for growth in the years to come," Sunil Lulla, CEO, BARC India said in a statement adding that TV viewership reached an all-time high of 1.27 trillion viewing minutes during the lockdown.

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