COVID-19 Week 2 records a spectacular 298% growth for TV news viewership

According to the second edition of the Nielsen-BARC report, the growth is as per a comparison of the period before the coronavirus outbreak and the second week of the lockdown

e4m by Tasmayee Laha Roy
Updated: Apr 3, 2020 6:09 PM
TV News

Consumption of news on TV continues to spike with figures from the second week of the lockdown showing a whopping growth of 298% as compared to the period before the COVID-19 outbreak.

The data is part of the second edition of the Nielsen-BARC report on crisis consumption insights on TV viewing.

The report is a comparison between growth in Week 12 (starting 21 March) and the period between Week 2 and Week 4 (11 January to 31 January) in the general news genre. The business news category also saw an exponential growth of 180%.

Meanwhile as per the weekly BARC data, the share of news to total TV viewership has seen a growth from 7% to 21% at an all-India level in both non-prime time and prime time slots. A closer look at the impressions clocked by channels in the genre verifies this increase in share.

News channels across languages have also witnessed an exponential growth. Aaj Tak in the Hindi news genre, for instance, has recorded over 100% growth in impressions in a week’s time. The channel has seen 532102000 impressions in week 12 against 216024000 in week 11. India Today garnered 1190000 impressions in Week 12 against 418000 in Week 11, recording more than 150% growth.

ABP News has recorded 340659000 impressions against 130035000 impressions of the previous week. The channel saw a growth of nearly 160%, taking the brand from number five in the previous week to the second most watched Hindi news channel in the All India (U+R) : NCCS AB : Males 22+ Individuals category.

As per the Nielsen-BARC report, viewers have ‘searched’ for more news through multiple channels during the lockdown. In normal circumstances, 30% of Hindi news viewers watch only 1 channel but this has dropped to 18% in week 12.

However, it is not just the Hindi channels who are breaking their own records. In the English category too, channels have been surpassing their own ratings. For instance, Republic TV has jumped from 852000 impressions in Week 11 to 1962000 impressions in Week 12.

Times Now, too, has recorded over a 100% growth. The channel has clocked 1375000 impressions in week 12 against 644000 impressions in week 11 which had also seen a huge jump in the week before when impressions stood at 501000.

Talking about the factors contributing to the unprecedented growth in reach for the brand, was Rahul Shivshankar, Editor-in-Chief, Times Now. “Times Now has been a news leader for several years now. It's a preferred news destination for viewers when big news stories break because its journalism is built on 2 fundamentals: verified facts and relentless investigation. COVID-19 has seen a huge surge in fake news, leading to panic and uncertainty amongst people. We've kept an unwavering focus on #fightingfearwithfacts in combatting the spread of the pandemic and empowering our viewers with only trusted and verified news. This is why Times Now has seen this massive and unprecedented surge in impressions, even though it is not Free To Air."

Likewise, on the Janta Curfew day, Network18 recorded its all-time highest reach of 22 crore viewers. The network considers this a win for the team that is putting in long hours of hard work even as the country is under a total lockdown. Avinash Kaul, CEO, Television News, Network18, explained: “It is a time to appreciate the efforts of our teams at Network18 for their commitment towards our viewers by bringing uninterrupted news every second. Tirelessly our frontline reporters, editors, camera persons, technicians and support staff have been bringing round-the-clock coverage of news, and the numbers are here to proclaim our network’s strength. We have been successfully operating all our channels and digital properties because of an elaborate business continuity plan that we put in place well in advance and which is updated in real time.”

“The results are here to see as every day we are catering to 19 crore viewers with the fastest, most accurate and analytical news in these testing times of a total lockdown. We believe, in such times, the strength of a network comes to play to its best. Be it general news in English or any other of the 14 main languages of the country, or business news catering to stock and commodity traders, financial analysts, business fraternity and even start-ups, and small and medium enterprises - Network18 is there for you,” Kaul added. 

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