The health crisis caused by the coronavirus has left viewers at the mercy of the platforms. The growth of streaming services such as Filmin and HBO or the success of fictions such as Netflix’s “The Paper House” show that cinema and series are the great escape valves for confined citizens (sorry for the biscuits) . Information on the virus abounds in general television, which even becomes excessive for some viewers without platforms at hand and who demand lighter and more mundane content from the channels (here are some alternatives). As for the audiences, although in the last month the Spanish channels have experienced a true “boom” of viewers, highlighting the news and spaces such as “Save me” or “El Hormiguero”, advertising has put the brakes and all the The media, not just television, has begun to seriously notice the consequences.

What is the situation in other countries? As is the case in Spain, news coverage predominates outside of streaming and general television channels opt for films and cultural programming to fill in the gaps in which the disease is not discussed. Below we offer you a extensive radiography of the cathodic medium in the rest of the world:

USA More audience in the main chains

David Alandete | Washington

Before the pandemic was declared, free and cable television in the US it was losing audiences to forced marches against the streaming services. That has changed, and fiction series, reality shows, and news shows are on the rise due to confinement. The nightly news programs raised their audience in March by 42%, up to 32 million combined in the main chains: ABC, NBC, Fox, and CBS.

The latest episodes of reality shows such as “American Idol” (singing contest) and “The Bachelor” (partner search) have been the most watched since 2016. HBO, which is paid, more than 20%, also rises and the chain reports a 65% growth in viewers they watch more than three episodes of a series in a single day. In any case, with more time to watch television, streaming services also grow in the United States. The YouTube TV channel, also paid, reports 40% more subscribers since February. Now it has 830,000 in the country.

The Bachelor

Russia: More Putin, Masses and War Movies

Rafael Mañueco | Moscow

The programming and format of Russian television channels have undergone a certain transformation due to the coronavirus. Since the pandemic began to gain strength in late March and mandatory confinement was decreed in many regions, no space is broadcast with public participation in the study and the number of invited protagonists has been reduced in order to observe the necessary social distancing to avoid infection, although no one is wearing a mask.

This situation concerns the gatherings, magazines, reality shows and entertainment programs. Almost all of them continue on the grills of practically all televisions. The Rossiya-K channel, known as the Culture Channel, continues to offer documentaries, classical music concerts, iconic operas, ballets and films of yesterday and today, not only Russian, but from the entire world filmography.

The news presenters, cloistered in their homes

The news of numerous channels are broadcast with the usual presenters or presenters cloistered in the rooms of their homes with shelves full of books in the background, such as Rossiya-24, which has added the phrase “we are at home” to its example. But the special envoys are still on the street. Another practice observed these days is the repetition of old recordings of musical or humor shows and the projection of many films. Of course, without having noticed a decrease in advertising. Some spaces of political-propaganda content have moderated their ardor and others, such as “60 minutes”, led until recently by the couple formed by the ineffable Olga Skabéyeva and her husband Evgueni Popov, true scourges of the Ukrainian Government, are no longer on the air .

The proliferation of war cinema notes that May 9, Victory Day over Nazi Germany, is approaching, which this year will celebrate its 75th anniversary without the required parade in Red Square. Orthodox Easter has also made its mark, all religious services are being televised and the best-known prelates, with Patriarch Kiril at the helm, direct their talks to the parishioners. Of course, due to the measures adopted to fight against COVID-19, the country’s authorities appear regularly before the cameras of the main channels, first of all President Vladimir Putin, to announce their decrees and breathe new life.

China. War series for the elderly and internet for the young

Pablo M. Díez | Wuhan

In China, while the elderly preferred the communist propaganda series about the war against the Japanese to pass the quarantine, the younger ones stuck to their mobile phones with their headphones on to watch TV online. And not only the large channels, but the infinity of audiovisual content that circulates through the most varied applications. Among them stands out the popular Douyin (Tik Tok), where there are all kinds of amateur microvideos doing the first thing that comes to mind with more or less grace and talent. According to the BBC, in China there are more than 520 million video bloggers who have taken advantage of the forced pause of the coronavirus to increase their audience. Among the offer there was everything: from cooking classes to games to kill time going through one of the biggest hobbies in this country, singing in the “karaokes”. Whatever it takes to entertain staff and disconnect from the coronavirus catastrophe, ubiquitous in the news.

Italy. Culture and information

Ángel Gómez Fuentes | Rome

In Italy, the mainstream televisions keep most of their programs already set before the epidemic. But those dedicated to information speak almost exclusively of coronaviruses. In those that are done live, all its content is dedicated to giving information about the Covid-19, with members of the government and specialists from various sectors. Newscasts spend the vast majority of their time with the coronavirus.

Public television RAI has changed the programming in several of its thematic channels dedicated to culture. Lessons and talks aimed above all at schoolchildren and students in general, who have closed schools and universities, are given. Two continuous news channels, RAiNews and SkyNews, mainly offer news related to the coronavirus.

Portugal. Increased consumption

Francisco Chacón | Lisbon

Since the state of emergency was declared, television consumption has increased by 28% in Portugal, where the general TV with the largest audience is the private SIC, thanks to its soap operas ‘Nazaré’, ‘Tierra brava’ or ‘Luna Roja’. Then there is the public RTP, which has just been released the cultural gathering ‘At Amália’s house’, based on the evenings that the great fado lady, Amália Rodrigues, celebrated in her Lisbon house as the hostess of painters, musicians, poets and actors.

France: few live programs

Juan Pedro Quiñonero | Paris

In France, the three permanent information chains are devoted to the crisis at all hours: news, reports, discussions with doctors, specialists, few “opinionated” people, a lot of interviews with members of the Government, men and women on the street. The generalists have suppressed many live programs. The newscasts are focused on the different facets and angles of the crisis, national and international. Lots of interview with live ministers.

South Africa: “Uzalo” and “Contagion”, among the most viewed

Alba Amorós | South Africa

Confinement to the coronavirus pandemic in South Africa has led to a historic record screen share in the month of March, with an increase of millions of viewers who sit in front of the television either to watch news or entertainment content. There has been a Massive increase of up to 100% in certain slots during the day and during prime time. Pay TV services like MultiChoice have opened up access to more TV channels, so millions of South Africans are now exposed to new content that they did not have access to before the ‘national shutdown’.

‘Contagion’ was seen by 4.3 million viewers

Among the options preferred by South Africans are the movie channel; the most watched program in the country was the South African soap opera “Uzalo”, broadcast by the public television channel SABC1, which surpassed 10.2 million viewers in March, an increase of almost one million viewers from 9.3 million compared to February. This drama, which hit the screen in 2015, tells the story of two family dynasties, the Mdletshes and the Xulus, and the two young men who bear their hopes and their legacy. The replacement of the mythical local series «Generations», the largest local production, again hooks South Africans, specifically more than 8 million people. The movie Contagion by Steven Soderberg (2011), broadcast on April 5, attracted a whopping 4.3 million viewers (a 42.9% share).


South Africans have mainly chosen two newsletters for information from the public network SABC1: Xhosa TV and Zulu YV. The first one has gained 1.2 million viewers in a single month, going from 4.1 to 5.39 million viewers; while the second has gone from 3.94 million viewers in February to 5.28. The announcement of the mandatory confinement of President Cyril Ramaphosa on the night of March 23 broke all records for the SABC2 network, with a follow-up of nearly 3 million viewers.

United Kingdom: the audience “runs away” from the information

Ivannia Salazar | London

In times of the coronavirus, the British seem to want to abstract a bit of the information about the pandemic, or at least that is clear from the audience data in the United Kingdom for the last week, in which the first newscast to appear is one of the BBC in sixth position. The first is the Antiques Roadshow program, in which antique and fine art specialists travel the nation to examine and value people’s antiques and collectibles. Second is Coronation Street», A successful series that began airing in 1960 and follows the lives of Coronation Street residents, most of whom are working class. And third, another classic on British screens: the entertainment program “Ant And Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway.”

In general, the grill is full of its own series, which are the same for decades or even decades and many of them internationally acclaimed, and the pandemic has not changed this preference. Viewers are also huge fans of reality TV, with shows like MasterChef.


Venezuelans prefer Netflix

Ymarú Rojas | Venezuela

The censorship imposed in the Chavista era has forced Venezuelans to seek options for the consumption of information and entertainment beyond local television. The communicational hegemony that Hugo Chávez applied, during his mandate, annihilated all programming on national channels, and even more so that his government criticized or buffooned. To this has been added the economic crisis, which has hit large production houses, and also the migratory crisis, which has removed a large part of the talents from the country.

In times of confinement, Netflix has been the first choice of many Venezuelans to entertain themselves in the 34 days they have been locked in their homes. But the constant failures of the internet make people take refuge in subscription television channels. And those who do not have the two previous options must settle for repeated programming and long ago on private channels, while the public repeats almost everything that the state channel (VTV) transmits, which dedicates a large part of its time to Chavista propaganda , to the news that suits the Nicolás Maduro regime and to some programs of little invoice.

The paper house, one of the series recommended by Nicolás Maduro

Brazil: news and soap operas

Veronica Goyzuelta | Brazil

Brazil is the headquarters of the Globo chain, a world reference in television, where large amounts of national content are produced, which is exhibited around the world. Despite having lost space against competitors like the chain Record, owned by an evangelical church, and streaming networks, Globo still gathers the main audience of Brazilian television, with more than 80% of viewers in its main newscast and soap operas, which remain the main issue.

The company has also been agile in creating its own streaming, Globoplay, which produces TV series and movies for its platform and even for its global competitors. Last year it opened its new studios in Rio de Janeiro, over an area of ​​26 thousand square meters, with thirteen production studios, to produce original formats, reality shows, varieties, films and its soap operas, known and distributed worldwide.

Greece: confined to the sofa

Begoña Castiella | Athens

This is confirmed by data from the Nielsen company in Greece: the Greeks confined to their homes by the measures taken by the government are more and more hours in front of television. More than eight hours a day, according to data from the end of March, increasing every day and exceeding 513 minutes. Glued to the screen is 81.4% of the population. Women over 18 are the ones who watch TV the most, exceeding 569 minutes a day, since the youngest entertain themselves with other games on the computer and mobile, watching Netflix and communicating with each other.

Although strolling is allowed (with personal pass and no more than two people together), many Greeks are limited to going out of the house only for the basic purchase. And if you do not telework or help children study, television is a solution, especially with private channels and their entertainment programs such as the Greek versions of MasterChef or the Lucky Luck Roulette, as well as their newscasts (the preferred one is from the Skai channel).

State television ET has always less public but now it has reached 5.9% of audience on its first channel thanks to its constant information and the other channels for its educational programs that are necessarily followed by students and by their foreign series. At other times there are many young people and men who prefer sports programs. And now during Orthodox Easter, a week later than Catholic, the oldest follow the long broadcasts of liturgies from the Athens Cathedral and other churches (to which the faithful are now prohibited from accessing) preferably on state television, but also on private television, and all of them broadcast classic religious films with great audience success.

Mexico: Information rebound

Adrian Espallargas | Mexico

In Mexico, the health contingency has caused television stations to spend more time broadcasting for news programs. According to a Nielsen IBOPE survey, newscasts have occupied 20.74% of daily broadcast time since the emergency was declared on March 30. Within this segment, the newscast “En Punto” Presented by the journalist Denise Maerker on the Televisa channel, it is the most widely watched news space in Mexico, a country of 120 million people. As part of this trend to consume information, nearly 12 million people had seen until April 5 some of the morning conferences that Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the President of Mexico, has given about the advance of the virus. Meanwhile, variety shows occupy 20.7% of broadcast time.

Germany: increase in viewers

Rosalía Sánchez | Berlin

German public television newscast “Tagesschau” has gained 6.1% in screen share, to an average of 13.47 million viewers each night. The number of visits to the digital library It also increased significantly: 26.1 million more visits per week in March to 35.8 million entries. 73% of the respondents, between 18 and 75 years old, feel good or very well informed. By far the most widely used source for learning about the virus’s development, at 64%, is public television, although private television is also registering a significant increase in viewers.

The special coronavirus aired last Thursday by German public television in prime time (from 8:15 p.m.) was followed by 7.09 million viewers, 21.2%. The second most followed program was a movie, with 6.57 million viewers, 19.6%, and this is the trend that has been repeated every night since the beginning of the health crisis.

“The use of television is currently growing significantly. In the target group of 14 to 49 years by 16.8%, “said a spokesman for ProSieben,” between 14 and 19 years increases by more than 36%. ” “RTL’s total media coverage reached 34.33 million people on linear and digital television on March 22. The RTL show ‘Let’s Dance’ hit a new record with 4.91 million viewers. ”


Enrique Serbeto | Brussels

Belgians, especially French-speaking ones, actually watch the same television as the French, and indeed French channels even have the ability to broadcast advertising intended exclusively for the Belgian market. In return, French networks frequently include Belgian characters in their shows and contests. One of the most popular broadcasts and an example of this symbiosis is “Affaire conclue” (“Deal Done”) a format created in the German ZDF, in which there are both French and Belgian presenters and contestants. Made by France Television, it is also broadcast on the first French-speaking Belgian public channel RTBF.

The most relevant change for the television scene in Brussels, however, has been the appearance of a modest continuous chain of information, “LN24” that, since it was an improbable survival project before the epidemic, has become a benchmark. Outside of the commercial chains, the Belgians, in this there is no distinction between flamingos and Walloons, prefer subscriptions like Netflix to watch series and among these, in the last two years, far from any other, “La Casa de Papel”, which enjoys in this country of a legion of unconditional followers.