It didn’t take long for the global COVID-19 pandemic to impact what viewers see on TV. Many live or live-to-tape entertainment programs have ceased production, including late-night shows, along with live sporting events. Filming of numerous films, TV series and cognitive programs has been suspended. Instead, TV stations are devoting more time to news programs. As it appears, longevity of these changes, will likely depend on how long COVID-19 lingers.
Nevertheless, surveys have shown that viewers now spend more time with the TV screen than before. This, of course, is largely due to the fact that almost the entire world is in isolation: limited social contacts,closed restaurants, bars, cafes, limited movement within countries, as well as outside the countries. Quarantine has been announced in many countries and the so-called Commandant's Hour is imposed. Of course, this has made television, computers, and telephones a priority for many people to have fun and spend time with.
”Based on Nielsen data from prior major crises in recent U.S. history that forced consumers to stay home, total TV usage increased by nearly 60%. And there’s potential for TV usage to grow even further. Nielsen is not officially forecasting the COVID-19 pandemic will increase TV viewing to levels associated with historical crises. But it does note that U.S. consumers have traditionally turned to the TV during troubling times. During a crisis, TV viewing booms as consumers ramp up media consumption to stay informed as well as to kill time. When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston in August 2017, for instance, Nielsen’s analysis found a 56% increase in total TV usage during the impacted period compared with the preceding period. And during the severe snowstorm that hit New York on the weekend of January 23, 2016, total TV usage was 45% higher during the Saturday of the snow event compared with the Saturday before. These, of course, were isolated events of a limited duration. The COVID-19 crisis is different because it doesn’t just affect one region, nor will it be over within a few days or weeks“.
The larger impact from COVID-19 could be from the newly remote U.S. workforce. Employees who work remotely Monday through Friday watch over three more hours per week of traditional TV, compared with non-remote workers.
The picture is similar in Europe, particularly in Italy and Spain, where for example, first-time installs of Netflix’s app were up 57% and 34%. In addition, live streaming across YouTube, Facebook grew by more than 66% in Italy between the first week of February and this past week, and viewers were watching nearly double the number of channels.
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. The share of news in overall TV viewership has risen to 21% from 7%. Business news in itself has grown 180%. In comparison, the entertainment, movies and kids genre has grown by 63%, 56% and 39% respectively.
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%.
In India, in prime-time slots, the news genre has grown 252%, in the non-prime time slots, it has grown by 344%.
As more people stay home, trend of consuming TV content more actively, is likely to continue. Nielsen reported a 17% increase in TV usage in South Korea from the second to the fourth week of February when the number of coronavirus cases surged.
The Covid-19 pandemic also affected TV viewing in Georgia. Due to the state of emergency throughout Georgia, imposed the so-called Commandant's Hour, limited movement of vehicles, people are forced to spend more time watching TV.
More specifically, the number of viewers increased by 15% in March-April 2020 compared to March-April 2019, in 7 big cities of Georgia. It should be noted that mostly – by 30%, the employed audience increased in front of the TV screens.
Based on TMI’s data, we can say that this year, 16% more time was devoted to news programs than in the same period last year. Accordingly, in 2020, the rating of news programs increased by 54% compared to 2019.
Jha, L. (2020, April 2). Covid-19 impact: TV news viewership grows 298%. Retrieved from https://www.livemint.com/news/india/covid-19-impact-tv-news-viewership-grows-298-11585831965286.html
Owen, R. (2020, March 18). Tuned In: How COVID-19 crisis impacts what you see on TV. Retrieved from https://www.post-gazette.com/ae/2020/03/19/Tuned-In-COVID-19-crisis-impacts-what-you-see-on-TV-Empire-Supernatural-Modern-Family-GMA3-pandemic-Grey-s-Anatomy-One-Day-at-a-Time-Kristieanne-Reed-Rust-Jeff-Daniels-Jeopardy-Wheel-of-Fortune/stories/202003190024
Perez, S. (2020, March 17). Nielsen explains how COVID-19 could impact media usage across the US. Retrieved from https://techcrunch.com/2020/03/17/nielsen-explains-how-covid-19-could-impact-media-usage-across-the-u-s/