COVID-19 disruption period saw 6% increase in TV Reach: BARC-Nielsen Report

Nielsen and BARC

BARC and Nielsen have jointly put together a report to understand the changes in consumption behaviors of TV and Smartphones, respectively, given the situation surrounding the COVID pandemic and its fallout. Take a look at COVID-19 TV viewership & smartphone stats.

It is a well-known fact that Television Viewing is an integral part of the Indian ethos. An average Indian is known to spend a considerable number of hours with 3 hours, 51 minutes every day on TV. So, it is obvious that forced confinement will lead to changes in TV consumption behavior.

Today if there is one device besides the TV which is an integral part of the Indian consumers’ lives, it is the smartphone. People today depend on their smartphones not just for communication and social interactions, but also for entertainment, banking, and financial transactions, purchase of daily need goods like groceries, personal care to durables.  It is but natural that this period of forced confinement would also engender some change in the way people interact with their smartphones.

BARC and Nielsen have jointly put together a report to understand the changes in consumption behaviors of TV and Smartphones, respectively, given the extraordinary situation surrounding the COVID pandemic and its fallout.

Also read: TV advertising grew by 21% from 2016-19: BARC India report

Sharing her views on the current surge in smartphone usage, Dolly Jha, Country Leader Nielsen Global Media, South Asia said, “We are living through unprecedented times! Physical Social Distancing seems to have led to phenomenal growth in Virtual Social Togetherness with an almost 20% increase in time spent per user on Chats, Social Media and News in the last week. And we anticipate this to grow further.”

Elaborating on the topic Sunil Lulla, Chief Executive Officer, BARC India said, “These are unfortunate and unprecedented times. Working closely with Nielsen, we bring for our customers and stakeholders, this very significant and important update, on change in content and advertising consumption behavior, with a significant population at home. We will report soon enough, the impact of total lockdown. Our respective brave teams are working (WFH) round the clock to ensure the TV measurement currency, continues uninterrupted.”

Some of the Key Highlights of what we have seen are as follows: 


BARC Nielsen Smartphone Panel
Coverage All India (Urban + Rural) All India (Urban 1 Lakh plus)
TG ALL NCCS 2+ years NCCS ABC 15-44 years

Android Smartphone Users

Time Period PRE COVID  – 11th Jan 2020- 31st Jan 2020 PRE COVID –  13th Jan 2020 – 2nd Feb 2020
COVID DISRUPTION – 14th March 2020 to 20th March 2020 COVID DISRUPTION – 16th March 2020 to 22nd March 2020
Week definition Saturday to Friday Monday to Sunday


  1. Expectedly the COVID Disruption period has seen an increase in television viewership – a 6% increase in TV Reach and an 8% increase in TV viewing minutes /week. The time spent on TV/viewer has seen a jump by 2%.
  2. When we look at smartphone behavior, the time spent on smartphones per user has gone up by 6.2%. The time spent/user/week on VOD apps has also seen an increase of 3%. If we look at the increase in the time spent/user/week over that of the previous week (to take away the impact of Cricket viewing in the PRE COVID period considered), we can see a jump of 5%.
  3. Kids’ schools being shut down and the stress of exams off their shoulders; this increase in Television viewing is driven by Kids (+20%). With corporate India getting into Work from Home mode, we are seeing NCCS A showing an 11% increase in viewership. Even on smartphone usage, the increase in driven NCCS A (+7.7%) and 35-44-year-olds (+10.7%).
  4. People staying at home means watching TV throughout the day and hence the growth in TV viewing is coming during Non-Prime Time slots (8 am – 5 pm).
  5. The need for continuous updates expectedly has led to a huge increase in news consumption on Television (57% increase in Impressions), while spending more time as a family together could be leading to the Movie genre and the Kids genre also showing significant increases.
  6. This behavior is seen in digital consumption as well with News and Gaming showing huge increases. News apps saw 8% more users per week with an increase of 17% in time spent/user/week. This growth was led by non-English News apps (+87%). Gaming apps saw an increase of 2% in users/week and with an 11% increase in time spent/user/week.
  7. With a lot of uncertainty around what is happening, people have increased their time spent on Chatting (+23%) and Social Networking (+25%) apps.  Almost all social networking apps –  Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok have seen significant increases not only in time spent /user/week but also in the sessions/ user/ week.
  8. Expectedly Shopping Apps, Travel Apps, and Food Apps have seen a huge drop in both users/ week and time spent/user/week.
  9. It’s not just TV viewership that has seen an increase – we can advertising FCT on TV has increased by 13%.

As the situation continues to evolve in the coming weeks, BARC and Nielsen will also continue to track shifts in TV and Smartphone audience behavior. Future reports will be released on a weekly basis to keep the ecosystem abreast of how audiences in India are adjusting their TV and Smartphone consumption around the new normal.

Read the complete report here.



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