Daytime TV notes self-isolation spike amid coronavirus pandemic

By John Glenday | Reporter

March 19, 2020 | 3 min read

US daytime television is witnessing a resurgence as self-isolating Americans turn to formats such as Ellen, Access Hollywood and The Talk to tide them through the coronavirus pandemic.

The rapid and dramatic shift in viewer behaviour is recorded by Samba TV, which registered a 16% jump in daytime viewing on Monday versus the week prior, the first full weekday since the imposition of strict social distancing measures.

Massive audience spikes’ were noted to dovetail with the broadcast of news bulletins documenting the evolution of the crisis with CNN proving to be the main beneficiary among cable news networks, with viewership jumping 80%.


Daytime TV notes self-isolation spike amid coronavirus pandemic

A similar picture was found at rival networks with Fox News, MSNBC and Fox Business all registering double-digit growth of 42, 28 and 20% respectively. Family-oriented programming was also a big draw with TeenNick viewers leaping 171% while DisneyXD, Nicktoons and Nick Jnr saw more modest gains of 68,66 and 32% respectively.

Dr. Jeffrey Silverman, director, data science & analytics, Samba TV said: “We are already seeing double-digit increases in overall time spent watching television in addition to large scale growth in the consumption of news and children’s programming which we expect will continue in the weeks ahead as the television increasingly becomes our window into the world of breaking news, elections, educational resources and comforting entertainment.”

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Shifting viewer habits are expected to feed through into changes to network programming schedules over the coming months – with knock on effects for advertisers wishing to shift their primetime focus to engage these new audiences.

Impacts are already being felt on the other side of the pond, and not in a good way, with broadcasters warning that the pandemic will blow a sizeable hole in projected ad revenues as travel brands and other sectors slash spending.

Samba ‘s analysis is based on a proprietary measurement panel consisting of millions of US households and 190 separate networks.


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