Sports provide a lift to broadcast TV in September, streaming remains top in the US: Nielsen report

Sports provide a lift to broadcast TV in September, streaming remains top in the US: Nielsen report

Broadcast TV viewing increases 12.4%; while streaming hits at 36.9% of TV.


Mumbai: The kickoff of the fall TV season in the US and the return of football provided audiences with an abundance of new content in September, fueling a 2.4 per cent rise in total TV viewing. The arrival of new broadcast programming provided the traditional lift that we’ve seen historically, but the 12.4 per cent increase in volume from August wasn’t enough to alter the trajectory of streaming usage, as streaming services captured 36.9 per cent of total TV usage, according to Nielsen.

Alongside the whopping, but perhaps not totally unexpected, 222 per cent increase in sports viewing on broadcast channels, audiences continued to overindulge on streaming content, resulting in yet another monthly high-water mark. Audiences also continue to expand their choice of streaming service, with YouTube hitting a new platform-best streaming record, claiming eight per cent of TV viewing and equaling Netflix’s July record high, Hulu securing its own record of 3.7 per cent, and Pluto TV capturing one per cent of total TV, enabling it to be showcased outside of the "other streaming" category. HBO Max also gained 9.9 per cent in volume thanks to House of the Dragon and Game of Thrones, pushing its share of TV to 1.3 per cent.

In several cases, increases in volume did not affect total TV share. For example, Amazon Prime Video usage increased 3.9 per cent in September on the strength of The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power and specific Thursday Night Football games, but the platform’s share of total TV remained flat at 2.9 per cent. Similarly, Disney+ saw a 2.4 per cent increase in volume, yet its share of total TV stayed at 1.9 per cent.

Broadcast recorded the largest month-over-month gain, driven by the sports genre, which accounted for 25.1 per cent of broadcast viewing. That said, broadcast’s 24.2 per cent share in September was 7.1 per cent lower than it was a year ago. Cable also benefited from a 40 per cent bump in sports viewing, but the 0.4 per cent rise in usage wasn’t enough to move cable’s share of total TV. In fact, with the other categories gaining share in the month, cable dropped 0.7 share points to finish with 33.8 per cent of total TV, its lowest share ever reported by The Gauge. Cable viewing was 9.3 per cent lower in September compared with a year ago.

The return of football was the true spark in September, as it provided new content across broadcast, cable, and streaming. But even without sports, streaming—in all of its forms—continues to gain adoption, and it benefits from the emphasis that pure-play streamers and media companies alike are placing on it.