South Asia witnesses double-digit growth in reach of news channels during lockdown: Kantar

According to the report, in China and Argentina, news viewership has almost doubled in 2020 compared to 2019

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Jun 15, 2020 7:31 PM

During the lockdown, not just India but South Asia as a whole observed a double-digit growth in the reach of news channels, since the need for reliable information becomes more critical than ever in these difficult times and people spend more time watching the news channels.

According to the Kantar report on ‘Understanding the Impact of COVID-19 on the TV Landscape in South Asia’,  India is the country which registered a reach index of 169 followed by Bangladesh with 130 reach index and Pakistan with 137 reach index.

The report also states that TV viewing rose as COVID-19 broke audience records for news channels. For instance, in China news viewing has almost doubled so far in 2020 which is 1,413 minutes versus 727 minutes in 2019. While in Argentina, news viewing has increased by 55% since 12 March which is 1,439 minutes in 2020 versus  927 minutes in 2019.

Also, changes in preference during the crisis may drive changes in demand. In Bangladesh, local channels registered smart gains. Post week 15, foreign channels started to grow sharper again, however, time spent on local channels doubled. As per the report, the time spent has increased 2X versus 2019 on any local channel, and on any local news based channel it has increased by 2.9 times. Also, the country has witnessed a significant jump in viewership across the day in Bangladesh.

Whereas in Sri Lanka, there has been a surge in non- primetime, while women drove the growth of religious programmes. In India, News and Movies come to the fore. News viewership grew by 298% whereas business new grew 180% in week 12. On the other hand, in Pakistan, the share of News grows; at the expense of the Local Entertainment category. Also, the daytime viewership (09:00 – 18:00) registers 34% higher viewership in Pakistan.

The report also throws some light on the changing role of TV advertising. It says that for the media sector, coronavirus creates both opportunities and challenges. The report states, “Advertising adds colour to channels like TV that consumers are engaging with more since the start of the pandemic. It is a welcome distraction, reminding most of the more normal times.”

Across South Asia, with lockdowns starting at various points in time, the report sees some clear similarities. Overall, there is increased engagement with Television and reach has increased across the countries. Also, the behaviour is similar across demographics and markets.

The COVID-19 driven lockdowns result in increased TV viewership along with non-primetime viewership which sees a significant increase in TV. Even the premium audiences – working between 25 – 34 year old and men, show a dramatic rise in TV viewing which led to opportunities for brands to reach out to their target consumers at new, unexplored time slots and channels.

While News continues to draw audiences, each country in South Asia shows the growth of different genres. 

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