NEW YORK—New data from Nielsen’s The Gauge shows that overall TV viewing increased in October of 2023 and that broadcasters increased their share of overall viewing to 24.6%, the highest share they’ve seen since January of 2023, while cable and streaming both lost audience share.
Cable’s audience share was the lowest since Nielsen launched The Gauge, the media measurement company’s monthly snapshot of total broadcast, cable and streaming consumption that occurs via television. Streaming lost audience share for the third consecutive month.
Overall usage increased by 2% compared with September, according to Nielsen’s October 2023 report of The Gauge. The increase in overall TV usage in October was boosted by the broadcast category, which was the only viewing category within The Gauge to exhibit monthly growth in viewing volume (+9.4%) and share (+1.7 pts.).
The growth marked the third consecutive month of growth for broadcasters and boosted the broadcast audience share to 24.6% of total TV usage in October and its largest share in The Gauge since January 2023 (24.9%).
October is normally a flagship month for broadcast viewing with the start of a new season. This year, however, with the Hollywood strikes that stopped the creation of new scripted programs, the category’s 9.4% monthly viewing increase was almost entirely attributable to sports programming, Nielsen said.
The new report also noted that the broadcast sports genre was up again in October (+15%) after recording a massive 360% monthly increase in September.
Sports viewing, which was boosted most notably by NFL games and the MLB World Series, made up nearly 30% of all broadcast viewership. The drama genre followed with 18% of the category’s viewership.
By comparison, in October 2022, when there weren’t strikes, the sports genre made up 25% of the broadcast category, while the drama genre led with nearly 27%. Also on a year-over-year basis, broadcast viewership was down by 5.6%, and the category has lost 1.4 share points.
Meanwhile, cable viewership was up slightly in October (+0.9%), benefiting from increases in sports (+19%) and news (17%) viewing. News led in viewership across all cable genres and made up nearly 22% of the category’s total viewing. Despite these double-digit gains and cable’s nearly 1% monthly growth, it wasn’t enough to keep pace with the total TV trend—the category lost 0.3 share points in October to finish at 29.5% of total TV usage, cable’s smallest share to date.
Trending in the opposite direction of broadcast, streaming gave back share for a third consecutive month despite usage remaining mostly flat with September (-0.6%). While streaming recorded a loss of 0.9 share points in October, finishing the month with 36.6% of total TV usage, roughly 0.5 pts. were lost due to a methodological update*.
Streaming usage was largely stable across platforms this month. Some notable streaming highlights include:
- Netflix retained eight of October’s top 10 streaming titles, despite the streamer declining 5.6% in usage and losing 0.6 share points vs. September.
- Suits (on Netflix and Peacock) was the top streaming title for a fourth straight month, even with viewership down a third from September.
- The other two top streaming titles, Bluey and Elemental, belonged to Disney+, whose viewership was up 1.5% to keep its share of TV at 1.9%.
- Amazon Prime Video retained a 3.6% share of TV (a personal best reached in September) and usage was up 1%. The streamer continued to see peaks in usage on Thursdays, benefitting from NFL Thursday Night Football.
- Linear (live TV) streaming via MVPD (multichannel video programming distributors) and vMVPD (virtual multichannel video programming distributors) apps represented 6.4% of total television usage in October. Linear streaming is included in the appropriate broadcast or cable category, and is not included in the streaming category.
Nielsen noted that this iteration of The Gauge includes a methodology update that more accurately differentiates viewing to Hulu’s SVOD and vMVPD (Hulu Live) components. This update does not reflect a change in consumption, rather, it reflects how this viewing is being credited within The Gauge. The net impact is roughly a half (0.5) share point, which affects both Hulu SVOD and total streaming.