The COVID-19 lockdown may have hit life hard, but it has boosted media consumption patterns worldwide. Television news and smartphones saw an increase in eyeballs as the need to stay updated and connected is today's essential commodity.
Digital news publisher BISBO has stressed on these insights as some of the emerging trends from India's COVID-19 lockdown period. BISBO, from the GoBisbo Broadcasting Network Pvt. Ltd is India's first YouTube channel for animated news explainers and commentary. The organisation also keenly follows and expounds on the latest trends in news and media consumption.
Out of the current total 959 billion minutes of viewing time per week, the highest views went to three genres - news, movies and kids content.
"Right now, the Indian audience covets credible news, even children between 2-14 years of age. There is also a lot more reliance over credible news sources on television and apps, rather than news aggregators", shared Shakir Ebrahim, founder and creator of Bisbo.
He stressed on the recent insights shared by BARC India and Nielsen, a media research organisation, in their report 'COVID-19 Impact: What's Happening In the TV and Smartphone Landscape'. This report lists changes in television and smartphone behaviour over the last month, against our media habits in January 2020.
What we watch and why
We're watching a lot of television - an approx 70 billion minutes of it! The average daily viewers clock 32 more minutes each day, with each of our 592 million viewers watching at least 3 hours and 51 minutes of it. They are spending an average 17% more time on the news, 4% more on films and 11% more on kids content.
Age-wise, children between 2-14 years and teens between 15-21 years are the ones who're watching the most television. And what they watch is chiefly in Hindi - Hindi content consumption is the highest, rising in this time by an overall 8%, followed by Malayalam and Tamil content. The number of children who are sitting in front of their television screens also shares a disturbing insight. There are not enough online options for education - meaning that this disruption from schooling will leave a dent on their learning.
Another trend is the surge in non-prime time watching habits. There is an overall 20% increase in the consumption content between 6 AM to 6 PM (18% in urban areas and 23% in rural areas). So, not all Indian viewers have found suitable work from home routines and our spending their days with daytime TV. There is also a surge in viewership from noon, indicating that families have fallen into daily routines, which free them by this time.
Our handheld zone
Our smartphone consumption patterns have also changed during the lockdown period. We're now spending nearly 25 hours per week with our devices per week (at least 1.5 hours more than earlier). Age-wise, 33-44 year-olds are occupying most of their time on these handheld devices.
They spend most of this time on chat and social networking (277 minutes and 242 minutes per week respectively), followed by video on demand (VOD), gaming and news. The changing times have, however, increased their need for the last segment the most - news consumption is up by 8% users and 17% in terms of time spent.
They're also looking forward to people to people connections, though not necessarily through calls. Direct calls have risen by just 4%, which means that we look forward to these connections on chat instead. "Chat conversations are high as they are easier to get in and out of. They also link into the larger slice of time we're dedicating to social media as well", Ebrahim added.
Speaking of social media usage, we're now spending more time on Facebook, Instagram and Tik Tok than ever before. The number of sessions per week per user have also increased by 20% across all three, while time spent is also up by an average of 25%.
These are unforeseen times, where the Indian audience is evolving to indoor isolation and seclusion. It would be worthwhile to see how this continues to impact their media habits over the next few weeks.