Sports lift broadcast TV but signs in viewing all point to streaming: According to Nielsen’s September 2022 gauge report Broadcast TV viewing increased 12.4% while streaming hit a new high-water mark at 36.9% of TV usage.
The kickoff of the fall TV season and the return of football provided audiences with an abundance of new content in September, fueling a 2.4% rise in total TV viewing. The arrival of new broadcast programming provided the traditional lift that seen historically, but the 12.4% increase in volume from August wasn’t enough to alter the forward trajectory of streaming usage, as streaming services captured 36.9% of total TV usage.
Alongside the whopping, but perhaps not totally unexpected, 222% increase in sports viewing on broadcast channels, audiences continued to over-indulge 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 8% of TV viewing and equaling Netflix’s July record high, Hulu securing its own record of 3.7%, and Pluto TV capturing 1% of total TV, enabling it to be showcased outside of the “other streaming” category. HBO Max also gained 9.9% in volume thanks to House of the Dragon and Game of Thrones, pushing its share of TV to 1.3%.
In several cases, increases in volume did not affect total TV share. For example, Amazon Prime Video usage increased 3.9% 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%. Similarly, Disney+ saw a 2.4% increase in volume, yet its share of total TV stayed at 1.9%.
Broadcast recorded the largest month-over-month gain, driven by the sports genre, which accounted for 25.1% of broadcast viewing. That said, broadcast’s 24.2% share in September was 7.1% lower than it was a year ago. Cable also benefited from a 40% bump in sports viewing, but the 0.4% 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% of total TV, its lowest share ever reported by The Gauge. Cable viewing was 9.3% 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 forms—continues to gain adoption, and it benefits from the emphasis that pure-play streamers and media companies alike are placing on it.