TV viewership is up this week as people practice social distancing to prevent rapid spread of COVID-19. This week, we’re talking about a programming refresh from ESPN, Hallmark and others; TV consumption is generally up; and the Democratic debate goes without an audience.

ESPN, Hallmark and others adapt programming. While live sports are on a hiatus, ESPN is bringing back “The Ocho,” a compilation of random sports including Stupid Robot Fighting League, cherry pit spitting, sign spinning, the 2007 World Sport Stacking Championships and the 2018 Classic Tetris World Championship. Hallmark Channel is airing a special called, “We Need a Little Christmas,” a marathon of fan favorite holiday movies. Streaming services adjusted programming, with Disney+ offering Frozen 2 three months earlier than planned, and NBCUniversal’s Universal Pictures offering upcoming film releases on their streaming service, including The Invisible Man, Emma and the upcoming Trolls World Tour. (Adweek)

TV consumption spikes this week. Nielsen found total TV usage increase by about 60% this week, based on data from prior major crises in recent U.S. history that forced consumers to stay home like Hurricane Harvey and the snowstorm that hit New York in 2016. “Total TV” includes traditional live TV, DVR recordings, video-on-demand and streaming services or other content through any TV set, game console or connected device. (TechCrunch)

Live linear TV gets a boost, too. Primetime PUT (People Using Television) levels were up every day last week, according to Deadline. “The Voice” saw a 38% increase (five tenths of a rating point) week-to-week among adults 18-49, and CBS’ “Bull” and “Bob Hearts Abishola” experienced season highs.

Live programs forego live audiences . Forget about going host-free. With social distancing, more programs are going audience-free, including late night talk shows. The latest Democratic presidential debate also went audience-free. The program, airing on CNN, brought in 10.8 million linear viewers and 3.9 million live streams. Overall, linear viewership wasn’t as good as the previous debates in Nevada and South Carolina, but the televised event was received as having more focus and solemnity with a national crisis as the backdrop. (NYT)

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