COVID-19 TV: March Madness Viewers Drive Growth Of News, Religious Programming

Viewers of the annual NCAA “March Madness” -- the three-week men’s college basketball TV event -- have been part of the growth of cable TV news networks as more people are staying at home due to COVID-19.

Viewers who watched “March Madness” in 2019 increased news viewing by 32.3% -- a larger gain than among the total population of U.S. viewers at 30.6%, according to 605, a TV measurement/analytics firm.

Households tuned in to 2019’s March Madness event are up 64.8% for CNN, 36.7% more for Fox News Channel, and 11.7% higher at MSNBC.

The cancellation of this year’s March Madness event -- which was cancelled along with most other major sporting events  -- has forced viewers to find TV programming alternatives, especially as stay-at-home orders have been issued in many U.S. states.

The research firm also notes a 6.7% increase -- or 4.56 million U.S. households -- in viewing of religious programming in March 2020 versus March 2019.



Research conducted by 605 comes from a TV viewership dataset covering more than 21 million U.S. households across all 210 U.S. markets.

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