TV Viewership Is on the Rise in Russia

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The economic crisis has made travel and more expensive entertainment less affordable

Russia's national TV networks' viewership is up again after many months of decline. Experts have attributed the growth to worsening economic conditions as people travel and go out less.

In November 2014, the total viewership of Russian TV networks was 5.8 percent up from the comparable period of 2013, according to the audience counter TNS Russia. That was the first year-on-year increase in many months in a row.

The research group MediaLotics issued a study, in which it explained the growth by the fact that the falling ruble made travel and other kinds of entertainment less affordable for a large proportion of Russians, driving them to TV screens for diversion.

In November 2014, air ticket prices in Russia went up by 17.2 percent, triggering a 30-percent slump in demand.

The study also pointed to the fact that Russians have been watching less news, preferring entertainment content instead. For instance, the news network Rossiya 24 lost more than one half of its audience share between May and November, as it fell from 4.5 percent to 2.4 percent.

As the economic crisis deepens with the ruble losing about 80 percent of its value since the beginning of the year, there are no indications that the trend is likely to change.

Meanwhile, as commercials will be banned on pay-TV networks as of January 1, 2015, some of them have already said they would be stepping down operations or completely go out of business, which is likely to draw extra viewers to large free-to-air federal stations.

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