Advanced Television

Ratings: US linear viewing falls below 50%

August 16, 2023

Broadcast and cable’s share of viewing dropped below 50 per cent (to 49.6 per cent) in the US as streaming hit a new high in July, according to Nielsen. Broadcast’s share was 20 per cent in July, a new low, down from 20.8 per cent in June. Cable had a 29.6 per cent share, down from 30.6 per cent.

While overall TV usage was up just slightly from June (0.2 per cent), viewing among people under the age of 18 increased 4 per cent, and viewing among adults 18 and older fell 0.3 per cent. These trends resulted in increased streaming and ‘other’ usage, which is  primarily attributed to video game consoles.

An array of new seasons of popular original shows arrived on streaming platforms in July, including The Witcher and The Lincoln Lawyer (pictured) on Netflix, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan on Prime Video and The Bear on Hulu, but acquired content was the stand-out for the month. Suits, streaming on Netflix and Peacock, and Bluey on Disney+ were the most watched programmes in July, accounting for 23 billion viewing minutes. Suits, however, set new viewing records for an acquired title, amassing almost 18 billion minutes. In aggregate, the heavy viewing levels pushed streaming’s share of TV to 38.7 per cent, a new record, with Prime Video, Netflix and YouTube all hitting all-time highs.

Comparatively, sports on broadcast generated almost 25 billion viewing minutes in July, albeit across a range of channels. Most would consider July a slow month for sports, given that broadcast sports viewing typically more than triples when September starts. While the FIFA Women’s World Cup provided a boost at the end of the month, drama remained the most watched category, capturing 25.7 per cent of viewing. Overall, total broadcast viewing was down 3.6 per cent to finish the month at 20 per cent of TV, representing a new low. On a year-over-year basis, broadcast usage was down 5.4 per cent.

Cable viewing slipped as well, losing a full share point to capture 29.6 per cent of TV in July. Feature film was the only genre to see a rise in viewership (0.5 per cent), despite the fact that usage fell 1.5 per cent. Viewing across virtually all others dropping from June. ESPN’s Home Run Derby and the College World Series took the top 2 slots, followed by When Calls The Heart on The Hallmark Channel. On a year-over-year basis, cable usage was down 12.5 per cent.

The arrival of autumn will likely result in a seasonal shift in TV viewing, especially with the arrival of a new NFL season, suggests Nielsen. In November 2022, for example, sports accounted for 150 billion viewing minutes on broadcast. The potential for less new original primetime content this fall presents a unique situation for broadcast and cable, but the recent success of acquired programming on streaming channels highlights the outsized strength of quality content, regardless of when it was created.

Categories: Articles, Broadcast, Consumer Behaviour, Research, VOD

Tags: , , , , ,