Viewership on television has grown by 38% over the last four years and total of 48.4 trillion viewing minutes were consumed in 2019, shows data from Broadcast Audience Research Council's (BARC) latest study 'What India Watch 2019'. The study further revealed that in 2019 viewers watched five hours and 11 minutes of TV everyday. Further, nearly 222 million individuals watched primetime television with general entertainment channels (GEC) and news accounting for three fourth of TV viewership .
Moreover, regional continues to grow stated the report, as Sikkim, North-East, and Assam recorded a 119% increase in viewership, in the last four years and contributed to three percent of total viewership in 2019. Most of the regional language channels recorded a double digit growth in viewership. However, it English channels saw 41% decline in viewership on the back of tough competition from video streaming platforms, besides availability of sports content in both Hindi and regional languages.
Advertising volumes on television, on the other hand, dropped by three percent to 1.59 billion seconds in 2019 as opposed to 1.64 billion seconds in 2018. Tamil and Telugu genre, the second and third biggest receiver of ad volumes posted a percentage decline in 2019, contributing 10% and nine percentage, respectively, to the total as volumes as opposed to 2018. Meanwhile, Hindi at 32% share of ad volumes, emerged as the biggest contributor, posting a percentage rise along with Bangla at nine percentage in 2019. Volume of advertising Kannada channels remained flat.
As per the report, news channels recorded a 23% increase in viewership in 2019 when compared to the previous year. Moreover, news channels accounted for 8.9% of the total television viewing. This was primarily because of the General Elections as well seven state assembly polls. Further, the extensive news coverage on Pulwama Terror attack, Balakot air strike, Ram Mandir verdict, Triple Talaq debate as well as the controversy of citizenship amendment act (CAA) led to a peak in viewership of news channels. Interestingly, more than 90% of news viewership in South India came from the respective local language news channels. "2019 witnessed several events which swing the mood of the nation and enkindled curiosity to dig more and this led to a greater shift towards news," Rajat Sharma, chairman and editor-in-chief, India TV, said.
Similarly, sports channels witnessed 17% growth in viewing minutes in 2019, contributing 3.2% to the total viewership in 2019. Within sports, cricket remained the most watched sports while kabaddi, wrestling and football also attracted viewers. It should be noted that 2019 was a year packed with cricket tourneys, including ICC World Cup, Indian Premier League, along with South Africa tour of India. Interestingly, the maiden Pink Ball Test Match played in India was viewed by 43 million people and clocked two billion viewing minutes.
Post the roll out of the amended new tariff order (NTO) by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on February 1, 2019, percentage of households that watched 30 channels or more on an average per week, post a drop, as shares of homes which consumed 20 channels or more increased.