Linear Television Is Officially the Minority of TV Viewership
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Linear Television Is Officially the Minority of TV Viewership



Linear Television Is Officially the Minority of TV Viewership

Though it feels like it’s been the case for some time now, July 2023 was actually the first month in history that linear-television viewership accounted for the minority of TV watching.

According to Nielsen’s monthly The Gauge study, broadcast (20.0 percent of total TV viewership) and cable (29.6 percent) combined for 49.6 percent of all television viewing last month. Streaming made up 38.7 percent, and the catch-all category “Other” came in at 11.6 percent. That one includes all other tuning (non-Nielsen-measured sources), unmeasured video on-demand (VOD), audio streaming, gaming, and other device (like DVD playback) use.

On Tuesday morning, media and entertainment analyst Tim Nollen of Australian global financial services group Macquarie announced via a note to clients (and obtained by IndieWire) that linear TV is “past the point of no return.” Sure looks like it.

In June 2023, linear TV (broadcast: 20.8 percent, cable: 30.6 percent) still made up a slight majority (51.4 percent) of viewership; Nielsen, the longtime ratings currency, counts every hour of each day and anyone age 2 or above for this study. A few comps: In June 2022, linear television had 57.5 percent of total TV viewing; in June 2021, it was 63.6 percent.

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That June ’21 number included a whopping 40.1 percent from cable, which is the largest number ever for a single category. If streaming keeps breaking its own record, that one too shall fall — and soon.

July 2023 marked the first time the cable category ever accounted for less than 30 percent of total-day TV viewing for the month. What a difference two summers makes.

Here’s how July viewing looks in donut form:

Linear Television Is Officially the Minority of TV Viewership | ManOfTheCenturyMovie

Overall TV usage in July increased 0.2 percent from June.

Three streaming services — YouTube, Netflix, and Amazon’s Prime Video — had personal bests in terms of share. Prime Video is coming for you, Hulu.

That “Other Streaming” (5.1 percent) you see above just tallies any service that doesn’t meet Nielsen’s 1-percent threshold to be broken out. Consider Pluto TV’s inclusion a favor, we suppose.

While broadcast and cable each hit new lows, streaming’s share hit a(nother) record high. The windfall came mostly from acquired content: “Suits” (on Netflix now as well as Peacock) and “Bluey” (on Disney+ and Netflix) were the most-watched streaming programs in July.

Here’s a wild stat: “Suits” had 18 billion minutes of viewing in July 2023, the same number “Stranger Things” had in July 2022, when its fourth season wrapped. (Both tallies count all the two shows’ respective seasons. “Suits” has many more episodes than “Stranger Things,” but it also aired its season finale in September 2019.)

Over the course of that same 12-month period, streaming usage has grown 25.3 percent.

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