MUMBAI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s March 24th address to the nation, where he announced a 21-day complete lockdown to fight the Covid-19 outbreak, has become the most-watched TV event in the history television in India.

As per data from TV viewership monitoring agency BARC India, the PM’s address was viewed live by 197 million people, across 201 TV channels. The 8 pm speech was views for a record 3.891 billion minutes.

In comparison, the last IPL final was viewed by 133 million viewers.

PM Modi’s previous address on March 19th, where he announced one-day ‘Janta Curfew’, was aired across 191 channels, and was watched by 83 million viewers for 1.27 billion minutes.

In contrast, the November 8th, 2016 address by Modi on demonetisation was seen by 57 million viewers across 114 channels for 842 million minutes. Even the August 8th, 2019 address to the nation, where he announced abrogation of Article 370, was seen by 65 million viewers across 163 channels for 934 million minutes.

The data clearly shows a heightened level of interest regarding Covid-19 outbreak in the country as people are tuning in to watch news channels across languages.

In the week ended March 20th, BARC data shows a 57% rise in total news consumption compared to average consumption of news channels in January. Marathi news channels saw consumption getting doubled (101% increase), while Tamil news genre grew by 84%. Malayalam and Bengali news genres grew by 75% each, while Hindi news also witnessed 62% jump.

English news, with a few players in the segment, clocked 39% increase in overall consumption.

India has reported over 700 confirmed cases and 17 deaths by the pandemic.

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