It’s no secret that the use of smartphones and internet has seen a significant rise. But, no matter how accessible content may be, the television remains an indispensable part of most Indian households. However, for most, a television is a shared commodity which probably translates into fighting over the remote. This begs the question: who is watching television and when during the day? That is to say, who is the one in control of that remote?
According to a recently report by the consulting firm Ormax Media titled And the Remote Goes to…, “a lot has changed in Indian viewing over the last two decades. There are fewer women empowerment shows now, men are taking over the remote during primetime slots, and the average age of the TV viewer is increasing.”
In a comment to The Print, Shailesh Kapoor, founder and CEO, Ormax Media, said, “We had last conducted this study in 2012, and now, post the lockdown, we felt it was a good time to see if there have been any structural changes in television viewing within Indian families.”
Ormax Media’s report ascertains the key influencer of TV channels from 5,000 participants between the ages of 15 years of age from 29 states and Union Territories in India. The selection was made by aggregrating computer-assisted telephone interviews that were conducted between October and December 2020. As part of the survey, participants were asked two questions: ‘Who decides which television channel and/or programme to watch at a particular time?’ And, ‘What is the gender and age of this person?’ Each question was asked separately for weekdays and weekends.
According to the data collected, on weekdays women primarily control the television remote during afternoons and early evenings, with 7 pm generally marking the handover of the remote control from women to men. Between 11 am and 2 pm on weekdays, women enjoy control over the remote (62 per cent of the viewers). The data, however, changes drastically on Sundays, with men retaining greater remote control throughout. Parity in viewership comes closest between 5 pm and 7 pm on Sunday evenings (when male viewership is at 51 per cent), and peaking between 9 pm and 11 pm, when 67 per cent of the audience is men.
The post-7 pm dip in female viewership on weekdays is more pronounced in south India. For example, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, have a female viewership of 67 per cent between 11 am and 7 pm on weekdays, the numbers of which plummets after 7 pm to 44 per cent and 48 per cent, respectively. West Bengal shows female viewership dropping from 61 per cent to 44 per cent after 7 pm, and the northeast drops from 57 per cent to 41 per cent.
During the primetime slot on Sundays (between 7 pm to 11 pm), Mumbai is the only market where female remote ownership touches 50 per cent. Most other areas display numbers in the mid to late thirties, with Kerala at the bottom of the pile with just 31 per cent female viewers on Sundays during primetime.