Daytime, Cable News Get Boost as TV Watching Booms

With people staying home to avoid spreading the coronavirus, total TV viewing time is up 85% in late March, compared to a year ago, and daytime and cable news are the biggest beneficiaries, according to a new analysis of data from Samba TV.

Samba TV looked at viewing for March 23 through March 27, compared to a year ago, and found that daytime has become the new primetime. Daytime viewing was up 121% during the time period.

Cable news viewing is up 347% during daytime for CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, Fox Business and CNBC, with CNN and MSNBC picking up the largest increases.

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MSNBC was up 810% and CNN jumped 637%.

Over total day, those five news channels were up 272%. Again the biggest gains were at CNN, up 564%, and MSNBC, up 563%.

“As millions of Americans adjust to the new realities of working from home, school closures and social distancing mandates, TV viewership is undergoing massive change,” said Jeffrey Silverman, director of data science and analytics for Samba TV.

“Daytime programming is becoming the new primetime with total time spent watching television during the day more than doubling year over year," Silverman said. “Americans are increasingly turning to the biggest screen in their lives, their television, as a window into the outside world for news with the total time spent watching cable news more than tripling on average with some networks experiencing more than a 5x increase in total time spent watching their programming.”

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.