TV viewing in India jumped 6% thanks to the 21-day nation-wide lockdown that came into effect on 25 March, as the government attempts to stem the spread of the COVID-19 virus across its population of 1.3 billion.

According to a report released by Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India and Nielsen on the impact of COVID-19 on television and digital media behaviour across India, the average time spent per viewer also saw a growth of 2%, from 3 hours and 46 minutes to 3 hours and 51 minutes a day.

In addition, weekly viewing minutes (in billion) grew 8% (887 to 959) in Week 11 (March 14 to 20), as compared to the pre-COVID-19 period (January 11 to 31).

Not surprisingly, the news genre led the growth chart, with a jump of 57% while kids’ channel viewership was up 33%. In terms of gender, female viewers showed marginally higher growth in viewership (9%) as compared to males (8%).

Mega cities showed a 22% hike in viewership, led by a 28% rise in Mumbai, followed by 22% growth in Delhi. With more people watching TV throughout the day, the growth in TV viewing is coming from non-prime time slots (8am – 5pm).

When it came to ad insertions on TV, BARC data showed that it was business as usual. The overall ad volume grew 13% in Week 11. The biggest jump was seen in the category of social advertisements (147%) while banking and financial services also saw a spike at 47%, as did foods and beverages at 36%.

Sunil Lulla, chief executive officer, BARC India told the Economic Times that it was too early to say whether all the new ad insertions have gone to genres that show viewership growth.

The report also revealed that users are spending 1.4 hours a day more on their smartphone devices with the biggest jump coming from users in the 35-44-year age group.

News apps saw 8% more users per week with an increase of 17% in time spent. This growth was led by non-English News apps (+87%) while gaming apps saw an increase of 2% in users with an 11% increase in time spent.

Dolly Jha, country leader Nielsen Global Media, South Asia highlighted the almost 20% increase in time spent per user on Chats, Social Media and News in the last one week. “And we anticipate this to grow further.”

Due to the level of uncertainty around what is happening, people have also increased their time spent on chatting (+23%) and social networking (+25%) apps. Almost all social networking apps - Facebook, Instagram and TikTok - have seen significant increases while conversely, shopping apps, travel apps and food apps have seen a significant drop in both users and time spent.

Sourced from ETBrandEquity