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Streaming gains on traditional TV in February, Nielsen report shows

YouTube and Paramount Plus helped boost streaming TV's gain over broadcast and cable TV in February.

YouTube and Paramount Plus helped boost streaming TV's gain over broadcast and cable TV in February.

Tubi offers hundreds of television shows and movies that are available to stream for free.
Tubi offers hundreds of television shows and movies that are available to stream for free. (Courtesy graphic)

Streaming television continued to chip away at broadcast and cable TV delivery in February, according to the latest report from Nielsen Media Research.

The data, published through Nielsen’s The Gauge report, showed streaming accounted for nearly 38 percent of all television watching in the United States last month, up from 34 percent during the same time period last year.

By comparison, broadcast television viewing dropped from 24 percent last year to 23 percent, while cable saw its viewership drop from 30 percent last year to 27 percent this year.

Gains in the streaming sector were buoyed by more consumption of YouTube last month, with more than 9 percent of all TV watching taking place on that platform.

Fox Corporation’s Tubi increased its lead among free, ad-supported streaming television (FAST) platforms, with 1.7 percent of all television viewing taking place on that service, up from 1 percent last year. Peacock was not too far behind at 1.4 percent, up from 1 percent in 2023. Pluto TV — the first FAST platform to debut on Nielsen’s The Gauge report — increased its year-over lead to 0.8 percent.

The Roku Channel, which wasn’t listed on Nielsen’s The Gauge report in February 2023, clocked in with 1.2 percent of all streaming last month.

aStreaming continued to chip away at broadcast and cable TV in February 2024. (Graphic: Nielsen)
Streaming continued to chip away at broadcast and cable TV in February 2024. (Graphic: Nielsen)

Across premium streaming services, Netflix continued its lead with 7.8 percent of TV consumption in February, down slightly from 7.9 percent reported one year ago. Hulu dropped to 2.8 percent, down from 3.3 percent last year, while Prime Video dipped to 2.8 percent, down from 3 percent last year.

The CBS telecast of Super Bowl LVIII helped Paramount Plus stand out among the crowd in February, with 1.1 percent of all streaming taking place on that service, Nielsen reported.

While the Super Bowl is typically a big draw for broadcast and cable television — and, in this case, a streaming TV service like Paramount Plus — “TV viewing typically starts to decline as [spring] approaches,” a Nielsen spokesperson said in a statement.

“This seasonality affects all TV viewing, but it had less of an impact on streaming in February than the other categories,” the spokesperson affirmed.

To that point, Nielsen noted that streaming TV usage actually dipped nearly 2 percent compared to last year, but the category overall managed to “gain 1.7 share points to account for 37.7 percent of TV usage,” the largest time spent since August 2023.

Translation: While people streamed less content overall last month, streaming’s share of TV viewing continues to increase at the expense of traditional broadcast and cable TV.

March will be an interesting month to watch: Paramount Global and Warner Bros Discovery (WBD) share telecast rights to the highly-anticipated NCAA men’s college basketball tournament, better known as “March Madness.”

This year, March Madness games will be available to TV viewers who don’t watch broadcast or cable television: The CBS games will be available to stream live on Paramount Plus with Showtime, while WBD will stream games through the B/R Sports section on its premium service, Max.

Paramount Plus offers a free trial to new customers who sign up by clicking or tapping here, and Max is offering a discount of over 40 percent to new and existing customers who buy an annual plan before and during March Madness when they click or tap here.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 10 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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