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

Affluent households rely not only on their smartphones but also on televisions (TV) to keep them occupied during locking. Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) data shows that premium viewers, who have access to multiple entertainment devices, in India’s six main cities, increased by 22% between March 14 and March 20, with tune-ups up 11 percent. It was from March 14 to 20 that the progressive lock was announced. The comparative period corresponds to the weeks preceding the lock.

More specifically, Mumbai experienced the largest increase in the audience of premium households, with growth of 28% during the period considered. Delhi, Kolkata and Bengaluru follow with 22%, 19% and 17% respectively.

However, the increase in premium television viewing occurred while the time spent on smartphones increased by 8% during the locking of wealthy households. While the elderly and children have contributed the most to the growth of the premium television audience, the elderly aged 35 to 44 have largely contributed to the time spent on smartphones.

According to BARC, middle-aged people in premium households spent more time on their phones for news and entertainment, while family elders and children turned into televisions for the same. “An obvious explanation for this is that children are not allowed to use cell phones and that family elders are not overly savvy with gadgets, forcing them to depend on television for entertainment,” said Karan Taurani, Vice President, Research, Elara Capital.

The number of viewers of children aged two to 14, for example, increased by 20% between March 14 and 20, much of which came from wealthy households, said BARC. Similarly, the number of viewers of people over the age of 61 increased by 7% during the period considered, while the number of viewers of middle-aged people increased only by 4%.

Interestingly, teens and young adults between the ages of 15 and 21 appeared to spend as much time on TV and smartphones while locking. The growth in premium television viewing and the time spent on smartphones for this age group was the same during the first week of the shutdown, at 7% each.

BARC said the trend would continue for a few more weeks as broadcasters would repackage old programs as well as reuse digital programming for television.

“Broadcasters are innovating in these difficult times and this period could set a new standard for how content libraries will be used in the future,” said Ashish Pherwani, head of media and entertainment at EY India.

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