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TV Viewership Declining to Pre-COVID Levels Amid Reopenings

(Image credit: iStock)

LOS ANGELES—With the process of reopening the country underway, linear TV is seeing a decline in the viewership numbers it experienced during quarantine, per a new report from VideoAmp.

For markets that were among the first to open—Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, San Antonio and others (see chart below)—they’re weekly average viewing times have fallen to pre-COVID levels. In these markets, viewing peaked in the “early quarantine period” of March 9-April 12, but have declined to numbers actually slightly lower than January and February of 2020 during the period from May 4-24.

(Image credit: VideoAmp)

Cities that are still partially closed—New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Chicago and others—have also seen declines in weekly viewership compared to the early days of quarantine, but were still 7% higher from May 4-24 than pre-COVID numbers, according to VideoAmp.

It also appears that “news fatigue” has set in among viewers. VideoAmp’s study of news networks—CNN, Fox News and MSNBC—shows that there was a significant spike in weekly ratings compared to this year’s January average during mid and late March. However, as of the latest data on May 18, ratings for these networks had reached their lowest during the quarantine period; only CNN remained above its pre-COVID level.

VideoAmp also shared that one of the few parts of TV viewership that did increase during the quarantine period was weekends, caused by a lack of sports content.

However, despite the drop in traditional linear viewing, VideoAmp says that app-based OTT streaming viewing numbers remain higher than their pre-COVID levels, according to John Chasin, VideoAmp’s chief measurability officer.

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