As Social Distancing Restrictions Expand, Samba TV Audience Analysis Finds Americans Are Spending Significantly More Time Watching Daytime Television


Jeffrey Silverman, PhD
Director, Data Science & Analytics
Mar 18, 2020

Samba TV released new research this week on the changing television viewing landscape as millions of Americans begin adjusting their lives to the new realities of social distancing. The analysis found that consumer behavior and television viewership patterns are undergoing significant shifts as millions of college students are released from campuses and millions of additional adults now find themselves working from home or providing care for loved ones, including the elderly or children released from schools.

Samba TV released daytime viewing measurement insights analyzing audience behaviors for Monday, March 16, the first full weekday following actions taken by many local and state governments to begin enforcing social distancing measures across the country.   

  • Overall time spent watching daytime television spiked 16% on Monday according to a same day week-over-week analysis. Daytime television is measured as time spent watching television between the hours of 9:00 am and 4:00 pm local time.
  • News networks appear to be big daytime audience gainers as Americans tune-in for the latest health and safety updates. CNN experienced the biggest boost among cable news networks on Monday with total daytime viewership nearly doubling, up 80%. Fox News (up 42%), MSNBC (up 28%) and Fox Business (up 20%) all experienced significant double-digit increases with CNBC (9%) seeing marginal growth.  Household viewing also increased significantly in addition to total time watched. Fox News daytime household viewership came in with 5,570,718 homes watching at some point during the daytime window – a 49% week over week increase; CNN viewership increased to 5,085,316 homes watching at some point during the daytime window – a 72% week over week increase and MSNBC viewership increased to 3,286,932 homes watching at some point during the daytime window – a 53% week over week increase.
  • With millions of students staying home following school closures, family-oriented programming channels are also experiencing strong audience growth. TeenNick experienced the largest increase, nearly tripling, with total time spent watching the network increasing 171%.  DisneyXD (up 68%) Nicktoons (up 66%), Nick Jr. (up 32%) and the Disney Channel (up 27%) all experienced strong gains in daytime viewing. 

Consumer behavior and television viewership patterns are shifting significantly as millions of Americans stay home and turn to the biggest screen in their lives for news and entertainment and we expect these trends will continue in the weeks ahead as the television increasingly becomes our window into the world of breaking news, elections, educational resources and comforting entertainment.

The analysis is based on Samba TV’s proprietary measurement panel of millions of households in the United States and the time spent watching television across more than 190 networks from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm local time on Monday, March 16, 2020 compared to the same time period on Monday, March 9, 2020. 

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