A throwback to the 80s made Doordarshan the most watched TV network in the first 10 days of India’s three-week coronavirus lockdown.
In the week to April 3, 545.8 million viewers tuned in to DD National to watch reruns of Ramanand Sagar’s ‘Ramayana’ while 145.8 million watched BR Chopra’s retelling of ‘Mahabharata’ on DD Bharti, according to report by Broadcast Audience Research Council and Nielsen AG.
Reruns of ‘Shaktimaan’ on DD National attracted 20.8 million viewers, the report said. ‘Byomkesh Bakshi’, ‘Shrimaan Shrimati’, ‘Buniyaad’, ‘Dekh Bhai Dekh’ and ‘Circus’ also witnessed a similar rise in viewership on the Doordarshan network.
The national broadcaster pulled out these classics from its archives after 1.3 billion Indians were forced to stay at home for three weeks in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
And that social-distancing measure is now reflecting in TV viewership.
Indians spent a record 1.27 trillion minutes watching TV in the week to April 3, up 4 percent from the previous week, the BARC-Nielsen report said.
TV viewership growth is at an all-time high for news and movie channels.
News channels witnessed 251 percent rise in viewership during the week compared to the pre-Covid-19 period (Jan. 11-31) while movie channels attracted 77 percent more eyeballs. Viewership of sports channels rose 21 percent week-on-week following broadcast of classic cricket matches and WWE shows, the BARC-Nielsen report said.
Paid Hindi general entertainment channels, too, witnessed an increase in viewership as they toed Doordarshan’s line and brought back old shows. Star Plus brought back its version of ‘Mahabharata’, which aired in 2013, and ‘Siya Ke Ram’ that was broadcast five years ago.
The number of channels watched per viewer rose 42 percent compared with the pre-lockdown average of 23 channels. The daily average time spent watching TV increased by 28 percent in the week starting March 28. Smartphone users were glued to their screens for almost four hours a day, or about 26 hours and 36 minutes during the week.