Several popular TV shows have been forced to pause production during the pandemic, creating question marks about when they’ll return to the air. The big question is, with popular shows on pause, where are viewers turning their attention?
Samba TV analyzed four shows spanning genres—The Walking Dead, Riverdale, Bachelor In Paradise, and Barry. We looked at households that watched each show’s finale and what other TV content they consumed between April and June 2019, and compared that with their viewership habits for April-June 2020.
One of the clearest trends is an increased interest in news content for two of the four audience groups. This tracks with trends we’ve seen since the very beginning of the pandemic, but it’s interesting to see that in many ways, news programming has become the hot new drama of the spring and early summer.
To best understand how these viewers were filling the gaps in their TV watching calendars, we constructed The Samba TV Consumption Index. This index data was calculated by looking at finale viewers and determining how much TV content was consumed (as measured by number of minutes watched) between April and June in 2019 and 2020 on each of the networks/shows watched during each time period. If a network has a 1.0x index, the audience consumed content on this network on par with the average U.S. household. Any index higher than 1.0x, consumed more content than the average, and any index lower consumed less content than the average.
Let’s take a closer look at the audience behavior of all four shows.
The Walking Dead (AMC)
AMC’s runaway hit about the zombie apocalypse postponed its season 10 finale, pushing it out to October 4. While fans wait for the season to wrap, they’re spending their time watching premium content and more spanish-language content. Unlike the other shows in this study, Walking Dead fans are eschewing news programming in favor of entertainment across a variety of genres.
Bachelor in Paradise (ABC)
International travel restrictions forced ABC to pause production on season 7 for this popular spinoff from the Bachelor franchise, pushing its air date to 2021. In the meantime, BiP fans are watching reality content on other networks, and doing a little bit of home shopping.
HBO’s dark comedy about an assassin turned actor was forced to shut down season 3 production before it even began to air. This audience, likely HBO subscribers, dug into more premium content and explored the wealth of programming options that HBO has to offer.
The CW series was forced to end production early due to COVID-19 concerns, resulting in a truncated fourth season. While fans wait for filming to pick back up for season 5, they turned away from the CW and other broadcast networks and shifted their attention towards the news.
For many popular shows, it’s still not clear what the TV production and debut schedule will look like for the rest of the year. With viewer habits shifting to other content, advertisers need to maintain the agility needed to find their target audience across the dial. Samba TV will continue to look at shifting audience viewing habits, giving all of our partners the analytics they need to make informed decisions in this rapidly changing moment.
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