Consumers are tuning in: news and entertainment

Mar 31st, 2020

Written by Ampersand Marketing

As more and more people are following physical distancing guidelines, they are also watching more TV than ever. National HUT levels have increased week over week throughout March and seems it will continue in weeks to come. 

On Sunday March 22nd, viewership reached over 40m – a record high surpassing the 2020 Super Bowl. Since then, those viewing levels have remained consistent.  

With live sports cancellations and postponements, this massive increase in viewership begs the question: Where are these would-be sports viewers tuning in to?  

Last week we shared insights into the top networks where viewers of individual sporting events also watch TV. This week we share insights into the real-time shift in viewing consumption. 

As might have been expected from the mandated work from home policies, physical distancing measures, and the daily changes in the global virus crisis, cable news networks have seen the most significant growth in daytime viewership compared to other programming categories. During March 17th – 24th, these networks saw an almost 90% increase while total TV viewing jumped 14%, according to Comcast internal data.  

Further, as consumers likely continue to tune-in for 2020 campaign updates, COVID-19 progression, and regularly scheduled news programming, twelve of the top 20 highest rated programs on cable aired on either CNN or FXNC the week of March 15th.  


After watching news all day, it appears that people are also turning to more entertainment focused programming. The data this week showed significant increases in VOD specifically. According to Canoe data, we saw VOD “sessions” up (defined as the initiation of a VOD title), on average 15%-25% every day last week, and significant jumps between the hours of 5PM to midnight.

While news continues to be a focal point, and consumers seek alternatives through non-news related entertainment channels, cable TV offers important reach to any brand’s audience.  

For more information, please reach out to your Ampersand representative. Stay tuned for further updates on evolving TV viewership.