Broadcast networks see huge viewership spikes amid COVID-19 crisis

watching TV
Streaming video is also experiencing a huge boom in viewership while people are social distancing and self-quarantining to avoid exposure to coronavirus. (Pixabay)

The big broadcast networks ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC all have seen big bumps in viewership across different dayparts as the coronavirus crisis continues.

According to new data from Comscore, the four broadcasters have seen the biggest live TV viewership increases during the daytime and early fringe dayparts, up 31.3% and 35.2% year over year, respectively. All dayparts were up except for overnight (down 1.5%) and all day live TV viewership rose 18.5%.

The TV measurement company also tracked a 73.4% increase in live TV viewing across seven cable news networks, including a massive 102.6% increase during the daytime period. Live TV viewing on financial news networks also saw a 95% increase overall and daytime viewing of children’s programming was up nearly 31%.

"Our information shows that in these uncertain times, Americans are relying heavily on television for both news and entertainment," said Comscore CEO Bill Livek in a statement. "Advertisers who are seeking to fine-tune their media plans amid the ongoing shifts in consumer behavior should take advantage of the highly-engaged audiences across the TV spectrum."

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UBS analyst John Hodulik also tracked a big uptick in traditional TV viewership, which he said could help mitigate exposure to potential advertising declines.

“While our checks continue to point to deteriorating advertising demand, particularly at the local level, broad ratings strength could limit make-good liabilities in the near term,” he wrote in a research note.

Streaming video is also experiencing a huge boom in viewership while people are social distancing and self-quarantining to avoid exposure to coronavirus. Samba TV just pulled some new data from its U.S. television panel of more than 3.8 million homes and found that total time spent watching Netflix and/or Amazon Prime from March 12 to Mach 18 was up by double digits compared to one week prior.

“Looking at just one day this past week the Samba analysis found an average increase of 41% in the total time spent streaming on March 18, compared to the same day one week prior. Americans are streaming, and they are streaming a lot more today than they were just a few short weeks ago,” the company said.

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