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Sports gives broadcast, cable a boost over streaming in September ‘The Gauge’ report

Traditional linear TV accounted for more than 50 percent of total viewership, according to Nielsen.

Traditional linear TV accounted for more than 50 percent of total viewership, according to Nielsen.

(Graphic: Nielsen "The Gauge" report for September 2023)
(Graphic: Nielsen “The Gauge” report for September 2023)

More than half of television’s total-day viewership came from broadcasting and cable channels in September, according to the latest report published by Nielsen.

Traditional linear television was given a boost thanks mostly to live sports, including the start of the National Football League’s (NFL) 2023-24 season, which brought gains to networks like CBS, FOX and ESPN.

As kids went back to school, streaming among younger demographics dipped, Nielsen said in its “The Gauge” report published on Tuesday. A drop in production of scripted series triggered by dual Hollywood strikes — one of which ended in late September — also pushed more viewers away from streaming toward live television in September, Nielsen said.

All told, streaming accounted for 37.5 percent of total day viewership among Nielsen participants aged 2 and older. Cable television had 29.8 percent of total day viewership, while broadcast held 23 percent viewership in September.

The report showed streaming dipped by about 1 percent compared to August 2023, while broadcast gained by nearly 2 percent over the same time frame.

(Graphic: Nielsen "The Gauge" report for September 2023)
(Graphic: Nielsen “The Gauge” report for September 2023)

“With limited new scripted content forthcoming in the short term, sports will remain a prime option for viewers, especially as the new NHL and NBA seasons start in October,” a Nielsen analyst wrote in the report. “Compared with the NFL, NHL and NBA games span broadcast and cable channels, which could play a role in TV viewing behaviors next month.”

Among streaming services, YouTube continued to dominate after passing Netflix in February, with 9 percent share of overall streaming viewership, according to Nielsen. Netflix held 7.8 percent share in September, while Prime Video and Hulu were tied at 3.6 percent each.

Among free, ad-supported streaming services (not including YouTube), Fox Corporation’s Tubi took the top honor in September with 1.3 percent of total streaming viewership. The Roku Channel had 1.1 percent total viewership that month, while Pluto TV held under 1 percent.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).