U.S. TV viewing hits four-year high in January

Tuesday, February 20th, 2024 
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TV Viewing Hits Four-Year High in January, including Most-Streamed Day in History, according to Nielsen’s Report of The Gauge™

NEW YORK — Nielsen’s January 2024 report of The Gauge™ revealed that January TV viewing levels soared, bolstered by an abundance of high-volume streaming days, NFL playoffs, colder temperatures, and the long-awaited return of scripted broadcast programs. Most notably, January produced nine of the 10 highest daily streaming levels ever, with Saturday, January 13 marking the most-streamed day in history totaling 40.8B minutes streamed—a feat driven by Peacock’s coverage of the first exclusively streamed NFL playoff game.

Nielsen: The Gauge - Broadcast, Cable TV, Streaming (YouTube, Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, Disney+, Peacock, tubi, MAX, Roku Channel, Paramount+, Pluto TV, Other streaming), Other - January 2024

Yearly TV usage is typically at its peak in January, and this month, total viewing climbed 3.7% versus December. This monthly increase stands out, as viewing levels were 1.4% higher than in January 2023, which not only had a longer reporting period (5 wks. vs. 4 wks.), but also included the peak viewing week between Christmas and New Year’s, and was not in short supply of new programming. Additionally, this January included three of the top 10 days of TV usage since the inception of The Gauge in May 2021 (Jan. 1, 14 and 28), and marked the highest monthly TV usage total since January 2020 (excluding 2020 pandemic lockdown months).

In a month of many high-impact days, streaming usage was up 4.1% over December to account for 36.0% of TV usage. Peacock led platforms from a growth perspective with a 29% monthly increase, pushing its share to a platform-best 1.6% of TV. YouTube notched its 12th consecutive month as having the largest share among streaming services, with 8.6% of TV usage. From a content perspective, streaming original titles appeared to show signs of revival in January following a dominant year for acquired content in 2023: Netflix’s Fool Me Once was the first original to top the streaming charts since May 2023, totaling 6.5 billion viewing minutes across the month, and Reacher on Prime Video held the No. 4 spot with 4.3 billion minutes.

Broadcast viewing was up 7.1% in January, which bumped its share to 24.2% of total TV. Sports viewing had the greatest impact on the category, notching a 36% monthly viewing increase to account for 28% of all broadcast viewing. Broadcast drama viewing was up over 20% following some of the first new content releases of the season, led by new episodes across NBC’s Chicago franchise.

Cable viewing increased 2.7% over December, but fell to 27.9% of TV due to the larger increase of overall TV usage. ESPN’s broadcast of the College Football Playoff game between Michigan and Alabama led all cable programs this month, followed by six more NFL and college football games. News viewing was up 8% and topped all cable genres this month, led by the Iowa Town Hall on Fox News Channel (No. 8 cable program in January, excluding sports commentary).

Linear (live TV) streaming via MVPD (multichannel video programming distributors) and vMVPD (virtual multichannel video programming distributors) apps represented 6.2% of total television usage in January. Linear streaming is included in the appropriate broadcast or cable category, and is not included in the streaming category.

About The Gauge™

The Gauge™ is Nielsen’s monthly snapshot of total broadcast, cable and streaming consumption that occurs through a television screen. Underpinned by Nielsen’s National TV measurement and Streaming Platform Ratings services, in addition to complimentary insights from its Streaming Content Ratings service, The Gauge provides the industry with a holistic look at the various content audiences are watching.

Links: Nielsen