With people staying indoors amid the coronavirus-induced lockdown, television viewership, smartphone usership and video-on-demand consumption have increased. TV viewing minutes per week has increased by 8 per cent, a 70 billion minutes jump, during the recent week compared to the pre-Covid-19 period. Similarly, the time spent on smartphones per user has gone up by 6.2 per cent, a jump of 1.5 hours.

This was revealed by a report released by Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India and Nielsen on Friday, explaining the impact of Covid-19 on television and digital media behaviour across India. It has considered January as the ‘pre-Covid period’, and compared it with the‘Covid disruption period’, which is the recent week, for the report.

BARC is the official currency on television measurement in India, and Nielsen runs a 12,000 strong smartphone panel passively capturing smartphone behaviour.

A 6 per cent increase in television reach, 8 per cent increase in TV viewing minutes per week, as well as a 2 per cent jump in time spent on TV per viewer have been reported during the Covid disruption period, compared to the pre-Covid period. Viewing time increased by over 70 billion minutes in India. Average daily viewers grew by 32 million, with each of 592 million viewers watching TV daily for three hours and 51 minutes.

In urban India, the viewership in Week 11 (week-ending March 27) is the second-highest since 2015, it found.

As for smartphone behaviour, the time spent on smartphones per user has gone up by 6.2 per cent. The time spent on smartphone in Week 1 of Covid disruption has increased by 1.5 hours compared to the pre-Covid time. The time spent per user per week on video-on-demand apps has seen an increase of 3 per cent. As for the increase in the time spent per user per week over that of the previous week ― to take away the impact of cricket viewing in the pre-Covid considered ― there has been a jump of 5 per cent.

The time period that BARC considered for the report was the pre-Covid time which it identified as the period between January 11, 2020 and January 31, 2020, in juxtaposition with the time period of Covid disruption between March 14, 2020 and March 20, 2020. The Nielsen smartphone panel, on the other hand, considered the pre-Covid time period between January 13, 2020 and February 2, 2020, in juxtaposition with the time period of Covid disruption which it identified as the period between March 16, 2020 and March 22, 2020.

While the definition of week for BARC is from Saturday to Friday, for the Nielsen smartphone panel, it is from Monday to Sunday.

While BARC’s coverage spanned both urban and rural populations, Nielsen smartphone panel’s coverage spanned the urban population, which exceeds one lakh people. The target group for BARC was the New Consumer Classification System (NCCS) 2+ years, while it was NCCC ABC 15-44 years Android smartphone users for Nielsen smartphone panel.

“We are living through unprecedented times. Physical social distancing seems to have led to a phenomenal growth in virtual social togetherness, with an almost 20 per cent increase in time spent per user on chats, social media and news in the last one week. And we anticipate this to grow further,” said Dolly Jha, Country Leader-Nielsen Global Media, South Asia.

The report throws up other data-driven changes in consumption behaviour of TV and smartphones amid the coronavirus pandemic

The growth in TV viewing is happening during non-prime time slots ― 8 AM to 5 PM ― as people stay at home watching TV throughout the day.

With schools being shut and the stress of exams off their shoulders, an increase of over 20 oer cent in television viewing is driven by kids. With corporate India getting into work-from-home mode, it is seeing NCCS A showing a 11 per cent increase in viewership. Even on smartphone usage, the increase is driven by NCCS A (more than 7.7 per cent) and 35-44-year-olds (more than 10.7 per cent).

The need for continuous updates has led to a huge increase in news consumption on television ― a 57 per cent increase in impressions ― while spending more time as a family together could be leading to the movies genre and the kids genre also showing significant increases, it found.

This behaviour is seen in digital consumption as well with news and gaming showing huge increases, the report stated. News apps saw 8 per cent more users per week with an increase of 17 per cent in time spent per user per week. This growth was led by non-English news apps, marking an increase of 87 per cent. Gaming apps saw an increase of 2 per cent in users per week and an 11 per cent increase in time spent per user per week.

People have also increased their time spent on chatting ― more than 23 per cent ― and an increase of more than 25 per cent on social networking apps. Almost all social networking apps, like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, have seen significant increase not only in time spent per user per week, but also in the sessions per user per week, it found.

It’s not just TV viewership that has seen an increase, but advertising FCT on TV has also increased by 13 per cent, the report found.

Consumption on social networking, video streaming and gaming increased during 10 AM to 4 PM during week one of Covid disruption, it found.

Meanwhile, shopping apps, travel apps and food apps have seen a huge drop in both users per week and time spent per user per week, the report found.