Report: Sports TV Viewers Turn to News, Religion Programming During Pandemic

When the NCAA on March 17 canceled the men’s and women’s college basketball tournament, known as “March Madness,” sports viewers turned their attention to news, according to new data from 605, a television measurement and analytics company.

The report found that among viewers of college basketball, there was a 43% decrease in viewership of sports talk and documentary programs in 2020 from the same period in 2019. The same demo upped its consumption of news programming 32.3% compared to 2019.

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Notably, the news viewing increase was larger than the news viewership increase (30.6%) by the general public. Among 2019 “March Madness” viewers: 64.8% more households are watching CNN; 36.7% more are watching Fox News and 11.7% more are watching MSNBC.

Domestic household minutes spent viewing news increased 31.5% in March from the previous-year month. 605 said the data resulted in a 79% increase in households watching CNN; a 44% uptick for Fox News; and a 20.1% increase for MSNBC since February.

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“With more Americans staying home, there is an obvious expectation of increased TV viewership,”Noah Levine, chief revenue officer at 605, said in a statement.

As the number of households staying home grew, a similar increase in increase in religious programming viewership emerged — up 44.5% in the last week of March compared to the first week.

The reports that 4.56 million homes surveyed watched less than five minutes of religious programming in March 2019, with the genre now up 6.7% in 2020.

Spiritual Films ‘The Answer’ and ‘Noah’ Coming to DVD, Digital in June From Virgil

Virgil Films will release two spiritual films, The Answer and Noah, on DVD, EST and VOD in June.

Noah, coming June 11, is a Sight & Sound Theatres stage production projected to more than 800 movie theaters in April. More than 2 million people have attended the live show, which follows the Bible story of Noah as he fulfills God’s command to build an ark and fill it with animals. Sets towered four stories above the stage.

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Due June 18 is The Answer, which chronicles the life of American James Donald Walters, later known as Swami Kriyananda. It portrays his youthful quest for truth which took him from his birthplace in Romania to Hollywood, where he meets and is accepted as a disciple of Indian Master Paramhansa Yogananda, author of the bestseller Autobiography of a Yogi, first published in 1946.