| 21 Feb 2024
Here's how COVID-19 lockdown has changed print vs digital news equation

MUMBAI: The ongoing global coronavirus has given an unexpected boost to digital news consumption, according to a recent media research report. The fillip to news websites and apps, a whopping 34% on smartphones is good news, especially when print outlets are suffering from shrinking ad revenues.

The Broadcast Audience Research Council of India (BARC) and Nielsen India had released these figures in a joint study on digital news and entertainment consumption trends during the lockdown period for the COVID-19 outbreak in India. They observed that news websites and apps saw a spike in both the number of users visiting the sites and the time they spent on them.

The study found a 41% increase in time spent on news apps - around 40 minutes per week from March 28 to April 3, up from 27 minutes in the pre-COVID period (January 13-February 2).

Shakir Ebrahim, the founder of YouTube-based digital news and analysis portal BISBO India said these figures pointed towards the acceptability of digital news, over print mediums. "The evolutionary shift from print to digital may now become a revolutionary one! The larger question now is whether Corona will hammer the final nail in the coffin for print readers, who had previously been slow in adopting digital platforms", he quipped.

Those who suffer most will be newspaper distributors and vendors.

"The COVID-19 crisis will make print media reconsider their product. It may make them almost completely switch over to digital platforms with physical copies being extremely costly - this will not impact their advertisement revenue, as the same PDF copy of the physical newspaper would be available for everyone." he further added.

The surge in digital news consumption is good news for news videos as well. "As far as online video news is concerned, we see a broader audience that's looking for it now", said Ebrahim.

Public, the regional video news app from Inshorts, also corroborated this hike. In fact. Azhar Iqubal, CEO and co-founder Inshorts, told the Financial Express that this surge was from followers in smaller towns and cities who preferred video over text updates.