Coronavirus: Quarantines Lead to Major Spike in TV Viewing, Nielsen Says

South Korea sees a 20% surge in TV viewing during widespread self-isolation

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The more people stay inside, the more likely they are to watch a whole lot of TV. It might not be an earth-shattering revelation, but new research from Nielsen on Monday drove this home, as more people continue to quarantine in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Nielsen found recent events that spurred periods of self-isolation led to a spike in TV viewing by almost 60% in some cases.  And new data from South Korea shows coronavirus has forced more people to pass the time watching TV.

TV viewing in South Korea jumped 17% between the second week and fourth week following the first reported case of COVID-19 in the country, which happened in early February. That translates to an additional 1.2 million people watching TV by the end of February, per Nielsen. And compared to the same time last year, TV viewing has increased even more dramatically. An average of 18.1 million South Koreans were watching TV each day by the fourth week of February, marking an increase of 21.4% from the same time period last year.

An even bigger surge could be on its way, too. Nielsen found TV viewing in Houston increased 56% in the four weeks following Hurricane Harvey in 2017, and viewing in New York, following an early 2016 blizzard, jumped 45%.

About 3,500 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the U.S., as of Monday morning.