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MADRID — According to a study released Monday by GECA (Gabinete de Estudios de la Comunicación Audiovisual), Spanish TV consumption reached its highest ever levels over the weekend, fueled by the government lockdown aimed at slowing the further spread of COVID-19 across one of Europe’s hardest-hit territories.

In a brief follow-up sent Wednesday morning, GECA confirmed a continued increase in viewership over the previous week, although much lower than the weekend’s numbers, as many returned to work.

Titled “Impact of the ‘Coronavirus Crisis’ on Television Consumption,” Monday’s study goes into great detail to break down what Spanish viewing habits looked like over the weekend by day and by hour. The report is derived from an earlier report by Barlovento Comunicación consultants and data provided by Kantar Media.

Sunday’s record-breaking numbers saw average households consume an average of 355 minutes of TV on Sunday. When only conventional linear audiences were looked at, the number increased to 414 minutes per viewer. The discrepancy is likely a result of traditional broadcast consumers leaving their TVs on throughout the day.

On Sunday, a nationwide audience of 35.2 million viewers tuned in for at least one full minute of TV – representing 77% of the Spanish population over four years old. Over the course of the day, the average size of the total TV audience was just over 10.5 million viewers. Both also records.

Also included in the study was the type of programming people watched. As one might expect, news programming led the way. Telecinco, one of the country’s leading free to air networks which dedicated most of its weekend programming to coronavirus coverage, was the most watched network in Spain over the weekend with a 13.4% share on Saturday and 13.0% on Sunday.

Those audience shares were down from the previous week, however, as fellow free-to-air networks La 1 and LaSexta both increased their own percentages as demographics shifted and audiences that might otherwise not be home to watch the news on a Saturday or Sunday night found themselves parked in front of the TV. LaSexta saw the largest differential growth from the week before, more than doubling its

Saturday share from 5.5% to 11.6% while Sunday’s jumped from 4.9% to 9.2%.
Saturday night’s “LaSexta Noticias 20H,” the network’s evening news program, was the most-watched program in the country over the weekend at just shy of 4 million viewers tuning in to view most of the broadcast.

The weekend’s “golden minutes,” the moments in with the most viewers were watching the same program simultaneously, came at 9:19 p.m. on Saturday for “laSexta Noticias 20H” with 4.67 million sets tuned in. On Sunday the honor went to “Telediario 2” on network La 1, which hit 4.56 million viewers at 10:03 p.m.

On Sunday, the most-watched program was Antena 3’s afternoon news program, which pulled in 3.16 million viewers and a 17.1% share. Telecinco’s evening newscast attracted 3.15 million viewers for a 13.9% share and “laSexta Noticias 20h” impressed again with 3.15 million viewers, a 17.0% audience share.

Whereas the previous week’s viewing figures often featured a mix of scripted and reality programming, major Hollywood films and a bit of news battling it out for viewer shares, both Saturday and Sunday’s top 5 most-watched TV shows were news programs.

Saturday’s 9:00 p.m. appearance of Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez, in which the details of a state of alarm were discussed, had an average of 18 million viewers across the various channels it was broadcast, with a screen share of 80.9%.

On Monday, 47.6% more viewers watched TV throughout the day, compared to just one week before, with the audience size pushing past 9.5 million viewers, contrasting with the previous week’s 6.5 million. The average viewer watched 306 minutes of TV compared to 207 the previous Monday.

Tuesday saw larger audiences than Monday, although the week-to-week differential was lower, likely explained as an increase in viewers self-isolating last week. The day’s audience numbers reached 9.75 million, a 41.1% increase from the previous week’s 6.9 million, with viewers watching an average of 310 minutes of TV compared to the previous Tuesday’s average of 219, a 41.6% increase.
Again, news programs and government announcements were the most-watched programming.