THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s evening press briefing, in which he gives out updated figures on fresh Covid-19 cases and the measures taken by the government, has been a daily feature of the state government’s response to the pandemic. But the number of people watching his live broadcasts on major social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter has gone down drastically of late, statistics show.
The average number of likes and views for the live videos on his Facebook page in April, 17, 29k and 565.64k respectively, has fallen to 9.4k and 339.41k in July.
Pinarayi’s FB live on March 10, the day when he took over the Covid-19 briefing from Health Minister K K Shailaja, received 6.2k likes and 504.7k views.
The number of viewers stood at 245k the next day. Notably, the viewership crossed the 300k mark for the second time on March 21, a day after the chief minister announced the Rs 20,000- crore relief package.
The daily media briefing saw a huge spike in viewers in the second week of April after Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala alleged foul play in the Sprinklr deal.
For the rest of the month the viewership hovered around 500k as the chief minister set aside a considerable amount of time in the hour-long briefing to respond to the volley of allegations levelled by the opposition leader. The programme touched its all-time peak on 24 April with 12k likes and 871.4k views.
Only five of the total 18 live shows drew over 500k views in May, while June saw a huge dip as not even half of the live streaming videos could muster 300k views.
However, from July second week, the viewership improved a bit as the videos consistently received over 300k views. It is obvious that the gold smuggling case could not capture the attention of online viewers as the Sprinklr case did. Only on July 7 that the viewership crossed 500 k views.
According to political observer and social media watcher Harish Vasudevan, the viewership of Covid-19 pressers can hardly be linked to the chief minister’s popularity.
“Most of them glued to the TV or computer screens to know about the number of new cases and lockdown rules, relaxations etc. Now, people have lost their curiosity,” he said.
A noted social media observer who did not want to be named offered another reason for the high popularity of the live show in April.
“In the time of Sprinklr controversy, there was a silent campaign among CPM workers to boycott TV channels hoping that the low rating would force them to leave the subject. Now, during the gold smuggling controversy, there is a different campaign being run against a prominent channel and to increase its rival’s rating. Hence, you won’t see an increase in online viewership now,” he said.