Study: Pandemic drives demand for lighter news

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Covid-19 may have dominated the headlines throughout 2020, but audiences tired of the doom and gloom have also been craving some light relief.

Ruptly, the international news and multimedia agency, says the past year also saw a substantial increase in demand for softer, non-pandemic-related stories from broadcasters and publishers around the world.

In the 12 months to December, sales and downloads of lighter content surged by nearly 9 per cent over the previous year as media outlets moved to provide their readers and viewers with funny and entertaining content. Among the most popular were a magnetic man, football-playing goldfish and a pianist playing while dangling from a crane 40 metres in the air.

“The challenges everyone faced from Covid-19 made it all the more important for people to find escape, by focusing on the interesting, the absurd, and the other spectacular things that are still happening in the world,” says Matt Tabaccos, Chief Commercial Officer for Ruptly. “While Covid-19 was clearly the headline event last year, and probably for this year too, our clients reported there was a real need to balance that out with more positive, upbeat stories, and we had to make sure this was reflected in the breadth and the depth of our coverage. Sourcing such stories was obviously difficult given the reporting and travel restrictions across the planet, so we’re very proud we were able to answer the demand.”

In 2020, Ruptly’s top lighter news stories were:

  1. Iranian man with more than just a magnetic personality

This 51-year-old Iranian man claims he can make anything stick to him – be it a car bonnet, a soft toy, or cutlery – using only the power of his mind.

  1. Chinese goldfish owner trains fish to play football

With the football season globally disrupted by the pandemic, this video shows how Yang Tianxin used food as an incentive to teach his goldfish how to enjoy the beautiful game.

  1. Swiss pianist performs upside-down suspended 40 metres above ground in Nantes

Alain Roche’s unusual concert appealed to audiences on-site and online. Over 100 people sat in deckchairs watching him play, listening to the music through headphones in what one participant called “urban poetry”.

  1. Breathtaking double-deck bridge becomes hot Chinese tourist attraction

This newly opened glass bridge in the mountains near Shenxianju, Zheijiang Province, China, is 140 metres above the ground.

  1. Russia: Giant Motherland Calls monument caught in stunning drone footage

Clouds and fog swirl around the colossal monument built in 1967 in memory of those killed in the Battle of Stalingrad.

The top serious news stories beyond Covid-19 in 2020 brought human and environmental suffering to the fore. From the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to the devastating wildfires in the US and Australia, the emotion of the global BLM protests, and the impact and aftermath of one of the largest non-nuclear blasts in history in Beirut – demand for hard-hitting news persisted in 2020. Top stories ranked as below:

  1. Nagorno-Karabakh: Azeri-Armenian clashes hit Martuninsky district

Military clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. This uptick in violence has involved some of the heaviest clashes since 2016.

  1. Australia: At least 28 missing as Victoria fires continue raging

Footage shows fires in the southeastern Australian state of Victoria. Bushfires ravaged the nation from September 2019 to March 2020, covering over 17 million hectares and causing the deaths of 33 people.

  1. Armenia: Protesters break into govt building in Yerevan as Pashinyan signs statement on Karabakh ceasefire

As leaders sign a ceasefire to end the most intense fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh since 2016, protestors target an Armenian government building.

  1. Lebanon: Destruction left by deadly Beirut blast revealed in drone footage

A drone’s-eye view of the devastation at the port in Beirut following the massive explosion.

  1. Nagorno-Karabakh: Fighting continues for third day despite global calls for ceasefire

Footage from the third consecutive day of fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.


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