Lockdown effect: Surge in premium TV viewers; sharpest rise in Mumbai

According to BARC, middle-aged people within premium households, were spending more time on their phones for news and entertainment
Affluent households are not only counting on their smartphones but also television (TV) sets to keep them busy during the lockdown. Data from the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) shows that premium TV viewers, who’ve access to multiple entertainment devices, in the top six cities of India, grew 22 per cent between March 14 and March 20, with tune-ins surging 11 per cent. March 14-20 is when the phased lockdown was announced. The comparative period are the weeks prior to the lockdown.

Specifically, Mumbai saw the sharpest rise in viewership from premium households, growing 28 per cent in the period under review. This was followed by Delhi, Kolkata and Bengaluru at 22 per cent, 19 per cent and 17 per cent, respectively.

However, the rise in premium TV viewership came even as time spent on smartphones grew 8 per cent during the lockdown from affluent homes. While senior citizens and children contributed the most to premium TV viewership growth, individuals aged between 35 and 44 years were big contributors to time spent on smartphones.


According to BARC, middle-aged people within premium households, were spending more time on their phones for news and entertainment, while family elders and kids were turning into their TV sets for the same. “One obvious explanation for this is kids not being allowed to use mobile phones and family elders not being too savvy with gadgets, forcing them to depend on television for entertainment,” said Karan Taurani, vice-president, research, Elara Capital.

Viewership by children aged between two and 14 years, for instance, grew 20 per cent between March 14 and 20, a significant chunk of which came from affluent households, said BARC. Similarly, viewership by those aged above 61 years grew 7 per cent in the period under review, while TV viewership by middle-aged people grew 4 per cent only.

Interestingly, teenagers and young adults aged between 15 and 21 years seemed to be devoting equal amount of time on television and smart phones during the lockdown. The growth in premium TV viewership as well as time spent on smart phones for this age group was the same in the first week of the shutdown, at 7 per cent each.  

BARC said the trend would stick on for a few more weeks as broadcasters repackage old programmes as well as repurpose digital shows for television.

“Broadcasters are innovating in these challenging times and this period could set a new normal on how content libraries are utilised in the future,” said Ashish Pherwani, leader, media and entertainment sector, EY India.

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel