Linear TV Viewing Drops, Streaming Hits Record High

Broadcast and Cable TV viewership hits new low in July 2023, while streaming services surge, according to Nielsen's report.

Scene from Suits (Netflix)

“Suits” on Netflix and Peacock was the most-streamed title for July 2023

Broadcast and cable TV dropped to a new low in July 2023 in terms of total share among American viewers — dropping below 50% of total TV usage in the United States for the first time, according to Nielsen.

Meanwhile, streaming services like YouTube and Netflix accounted for a record 38.7% of total U.S. TV usage, the category’s largest share reported in Nielsen’s The Gauge monthly report to date. Overall TV usage increased 0.2% during the month (and usage among audiences under 18 was up 4%).

In July, cable’s share fell below 30% for the first time, losing a full share point to stand at 29.6%. Broadcast usage fell 3.6%, down 0.8 points. On a year-over-year basis, broadcast viewing was down 5.4% (-1.5 points), and cable viewing was down 12.5% (-4.8 points).

Among streaming platforms, three achieved record high shares of TV usage in July: YouTube (excluding YouTube TV) increased 5.6% vs. June, and its share climbed to 9.2% of total TV usage — the largest of all platforms. Netflix viewing increased 4.2% vs. June, which brought it to 8.5% of total TV usage. Amazon Prime Video viewing was up 5% vs. June to represent 3.4% of total TV usage (+0.2 pts.) in July.

Nielsen Gauge July 2023

The “other” category on Nielsen’s monthly TV usage estimates includes unmeasured video on demand (VOD), audio streaming, video gaming and Blu-ray/DVD playback.

The two most-streamed titles in July were licensed shows: “Suits” (pictured above), the legal drama starring Patrick J. Adams, Gabriel Macht and Meghan Markle, on Netflix and Peacock; and Australian kids’ animated favorite “Bluey” (Disney+). Those shows combined for 23 billion viewing minutes, with “Suits” accounting for nearly 18 billion on its own. For comparison, Netflix original “Stranger Things” had captured nearly 18 billion viewing minutes in July 2022 following the release of its fourth season.

On broadcast TV, dramas remained the top broadcast in July (at 25.7% share of the category) while the top broadcast programs were “ABC World News Tonight” and the MLB All-Star Game on Fox. On cable, ESPN’s Home Run Derby and College World Series were the top two cable programs in July, followed by “When Calls the Heart” on Hallmark Channel.

Nielsen’s estimates comprise U.S. consumer usage on TVs (including internet-connected TVs), combining two separately weighted panels. Streaming data is derived from a subset of the firm’s Streaming Meter-enabled U.S. TV households within the Nielsen National TV panel, and the linear TV sources and total usage are based on viewing from Nielsen’s overall TV panel.

This piece was originally published by Variety with the title “Linear TV Viewing Drops Below 50% of U.S. Television Usage for First Time, Streaming Hits Record High: Nielsen” and was written by Todd Spangler. 

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