Sports Continue to Drive Broadcast Gains in October; streaming delivers almost a full share of points

Editor’s note: This iteration of The Gauge includes a methodology change that more accurately differentiates between Hulu Live and Hulu SVOD viewing. This change does not reflect a change in consumption. Rather, it reflects how viewership is attributed. The net effect is about half a share point, which affects both Hulu SVOD and overall streaming.

Total television usage increased by 2% in October, supported by a 9.4% increase in broadcast viewership. While October’s seasonal increase is not unique, this year’s gains were achieved without the benefit of a robust new programming schedule. Without any new scripted programming, the increase in broadcasts was almost entirely attributable to sports programming.

A robust NFL schedule and the MLB World Series were the primary drivers of a 15% increase in sports viewership across broadcast channels, making October the third consecutive month of broadcast gains. It was also the biggest gain for the broadcast since January 2023. The increase in sports viewership also attracted an influx of younger viewers: broadcast viewership among 18-24 year olds increased by 15%. However, on a year-over-year basis, total broadcast viewership was down 5.6%, with the sports genre down 8%.

Cable television benefited from double-digit increases in the news and sports genres (17% and 19%), with news taking the top genre crown with 21.8% of cable viewership. While these gains resulted in 0.9% more viewing, it wasn’t enough to keep pace with the overall TV trend, causing a 0.3 point share loss for the month to 29.5%, the cable category’s lowest share to date .

In a trend opposite to broadcast, streaming regained share for the third month in a row, although usage was almost flat from September (-0.6%). However, without the change in methodology mentioned above, the share loss would have been only 0.4 instead of 0.9. While usage was largely stable across all platforms, October featured some unique data:

Suits is still the main program, but the viewership is down by a third compared to September.

  • Suits remained the top program, but viewership dropped by a third compared to September. Netflix, which offers Suits alongside Peacock, retained eight of the top 10 streaming titles in October.
  • Disney+ viewership grew 1.5% and held the other two top streaming titles: Bluey and Elementary.
  • Amazon Prime Video usage is up 1% and continues to peak on Thursdays due to NFL games.

Without the typical flurry of new scripted content this fall, we’re likely to continue to see atypical trends in TV usage until mid-to-late Q1 2024. At that point, it’ll be interesting to see if there are spikes in usage, which would be a trend away from where we’ve been. used to see at that time of year.

The meter provides a monthly macro analysis of viewer behavior across key television delivery platforms, including broadcast, streaming, cable and other sources. It also includes a breakdown of the major, individual streaming distributors. The chart itself represents total monthly television usage, broken down into viewing share by category and by individual streaming distributors.

Methodology and frequently asked questions

The data for The Gauge is derived from two separately weighted panels and combined to create the graphic. Nielsen’s streaming data is derived from a subset of Streaming Meter-enabled TV households within the National TV Panel. Linear TV sources (broadcast and cable) as well as total usage are based on viewing from Nielsen’s Total TV Panel.

All data is based on time period for each viewing source. The data, which represents a broadcast month, is based on Live+7 viewing for the reporting interval (Note: Live+7 includes live TV viewing plus viewing up to seven days later for linear content).

Within The Gauge, “other” includes all other TV usage that doesn’t fall into the broadcast, cable, or streaming categories. This primarily includes all other settings (unmetered sources), unmetered video on demand (VOD), audio streaming, gaming and use of other devices (DVD playback).

Beginning in the May 2023 interval, Nielsen began using streaming content ratings to identify original content distributed by platforms signed up to that service to reclassify content viewed via cable set top boxes. This view is attributed to streaming and the streaming platform that distributed it. It will also be removed from the second category, where it was previously reflected. Content not identified as original within the Streaming Content Rating and viewed via a cable set top box will still be included in the others.

Streaming platforms listed as “other streaming” include any high-bandwidth video streaming on television that is not separately identified. Applications designed for live streaming and cable (linear) programming (VMVPD or MVPD applications such as Sling TV or Charter/Spectrum) are excluded from “other streaming”.

Linear streaming (as defined by aggregating viewing into vMVPD/MVPD applications) is excluded from the streaming category as broadcast and cable content viewed through these applications is assigned to the appropriate category. This methodological change was implemented with an interval of February 2023.

Linear streaming via vMVPD applications (eg Hulu Live, YouTube TV) is excluded from the streaming category. ‘Hulu SVOD’ and ‘YouTube Main’ within the streaming category refer to the use of platforms without including linear streaming.

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