Traditional television viewership gained ground in August, as broadcast (20.4%) and cable (30.2%) each bounced back to combine for more than half (50.6%) of total TV usage, according to the August 2023 edition of Nielsen’s The Gauge. In the same timeframe, streaming viewership fell to 38.3% of total TV usage, but retained the largest share of TV viewing for the month.
It remains to be seen how September and future viewership numbers will be, considering there currently is no end in sight for the strikes by the Writers Guild of America and the SAG-AFTRA actors union. ABC, which is owned by Disney, announced yesterday that it would broadcast 10 additional “Monday Night Football” games to fill gaps in its schedule. In the fall, ABC will also air some dramas and comedies that were already filmed, but other networks are filling much of the gap with reality and game shows.
Broadcast viewership in August increased 1.6% compared to July, with drama and news the most-watched broadcast genres at 16.9% and 24.8%, respectively. Broadcast’s share of total TV usage grew 0.4 points to 20.4%, marking its first gain since January 2023. It benefited from increased viewing of participation variety shows like NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” and general variety shows such as the CBS show, “Big Brother.”
Cable viewership was up 1.7% in August compared to July, gaining 0.6 points. The gain was driven by a 21.6% lift in cable sports viewing, primarily due to NFL preseason games and an 18% lift in news viewing, primarily due to the first presidential debate on Aug. 23. Approximately 86% of the increase in cable viewing was by audience members over 65.
Streaming, however, fell 1.6% in the same time period, which the Nielsen streaming viewership research attributed to students returning to school. The category also lost almost half a share point to finish at 38.3% in total TV usage.
Peacock, a video streaming service from NBCUniversal, enjoyed the largest boost from streamers in August, rising 8.3% thanks to events like the WWE’s “SummerSlam,” shared coverage of the NFL Hall of Fame Game and the success of The Super Mario Bros. Movie, according to the Nielsen report.
In June, Nielsen reported that 36.4% of TV watching time was through streaming services.
And in February, the company reported that broadcast was the reason for an increase in TV viewing.
Nielsen’s The Gauge provides a monthly snapshot of audience viewing behaviors across different television delivery platforms and a breakdown of the major streaming distributors.