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Coronavirus impact | BARC data reveals surge in TV viewership

TV content has seen significant growth in consumption for two consecutive weeks as people are confined in their homes due to the coronavirus outbreak.

March 28, 2020 / 01:53 PM IST
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TV channels are witnessing a surge in viewership due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to the latest BARC-Nielsen data.

Total TV consumption witnessed an eight percent jump across the country in the week starting March 14 and viewing time for television increased by over 70 billion minutes.

During the January 11 to 31 period, the weekly viewing minutes was recorded at 887 billion, which went up to 959 billion during the March 14 to 20 period.

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In the Hindi Speaking Markets (HSM), TV consumption grew by 10 percent and the southern markets saw a five percent growth.


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While HSM was driven by reach, south markets were driven by both average time spent (ATS) and reach.

During the same period, average daily viewers grew by 32 million.

News leads the list of genres that have seen maximum growth in viewership with 57 percent increase in impressions and 34 percent increase in daily average reach.

News channels are followed by the kids genre.

Kids channels has recorded 33 percent increase in impressions and 20 percent growth in daily average reach.

Third on the list is movies with 14 percent increase in impressions and 10 percent spike in daily average reach.

No impact on TV advertising 

Advertising FCT (Free Commercial Time) has seen a 13 percent jump.

Free commercial time is defined as the amount of secondage bought on a channel.

Social advertising or ads by the government which during COVID-19 disruption period were mostly around coronavirus and how people can protect themselves from it saw a 147 percent increase in FCT.

Social advertising is followed by banking and financial services at 47 percent and Food & Beverages at 36 percent.

Sunil Lulla, BARC CEO, said people are watching ads and there is a strong scope of ad inventory to grow.

Also, among the genres that have seen growth in consumption, the ad volumes across news channels have seen an increase. Plus, people on news channels are watching ads and switching to other channels while the ads are airing.

TV consumption growth visible from early March 

While the growth in TV consumption increased in week 11, the spike was visible from week 10 (week ending March 13).

In week 10 (March 7 to 13), television content increased by over 40 million viewing minutes, leading to a five percent jump in total viewership over the previous week (week 9- Feb 29 to March 6).

"With schools and colleges shutting down and a mandatory work-from-home in place, viewership has risen by 15 percent among males and 26 percent among kids. This reflects the entire family now consuming more of television and a clear convergence between weekday and weekend viewership behaviour is being noted," Prathyusha Agarwal, Chief Consumer Officer, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited, told Moneycontrol.

She added that early signs of growth in non primetime hours including in the afternoon band (‪12-2pm‬) was also seen during week 10. Time spent per session had also increased.

So, looks like people are binging on TV, she said.

Agarwal further highlighted that the reach of the kids audience went up 29 percent for movie genre in week 10.

Subsequently, time spent by kids went up for GECs and movies by 13 percent and 12 percent respectively.

Additionally, the movies genre saw a spike of 13 percent in reach among male audiences. Subsequently, the time spent went up for the genre by 11 percent.

She also pointed out that Zee saw a similar viewership trend.

Will halt on production impact TV viewership?

Agarwal said that GEC is the only genre which engages with viewers with original content on a daily basis.

“For GECS, 50 percent rating is coming from primetime which is 7-11 pm where the original programming is aired. But the rest 50 percent comes from non-primetime which is from pre-scheduling or library content scheduling. What we have seen in week 10 is the shift from primetime original content that is reducing to 48 percent,” she said.

Zee is experimenting with content and will be launching short series content including Karle Tu Bhi Mohabbat, Baarish and Kehne Ko Humsafar Hain.

The channel will be replicating the short series content format for regional channels as well.

Considering the changing viewer composition, Agarwal is expecting number of people in a household to increase which means that TV viewing will see a shift from individual viewing to whole family consumption.
Maryam Farooqui
first published: Mar 27, 2020 07:03 pm
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