November 20, 2023 by Mitch Metcalf
PROGRAM GENRES. The chart below shows how the Combined National Viewing Index (871.4 million hours this year on Linear TV and Streaming) breaks down across major program genres for the first 6 weeks of the TV season.
Drama Series is the most watched category on television generally, with the viewing split almost equally between Linear TV and Streaming. No other category was hit harder by the strike, with Drama viewing down -11% on television generally and down a stunning -19% versus last year on Linear TV. Meanwhile, Drama on Streaming managed a +4% increase this season, as Suits has shown how well a recycled cable series can play on Netflix.
Feature Films is the #2 genre in terms of viewing volume, although it is much more important for Streaming (where it is the #1 genre with 78M hours consumed per day). On Linear TV, Feature Films is the #6 genre, with 62M hours per day consumed (mostly on selected cable networks). Not surprisingly, feature films picked up much of the lost Drama Series viewing this fall.
The next two genres, News and Sports, are almost exclusively the province of Linear TV – at least for now. The small single-digit declines represent the rare island of stability for traditional TV programmers, almost unchanged from last year for both news and sports.
Information/Documentary, Reality Series and Comedy Series are heavily tilted toward linear TV in terms of viewing volume, but Streaming viewing is growing fast in each of those areas. Reality Series was the big winner this fall, with an +11% jump in viewing minutes from last fall, vaulting Reality ahead of Comedy. Reality viewing on Linear TV increased a healthy +9%, but the genre really made gains on Streaming, jumping a huge +30% from last year.
Children’s programming held steady year over year, although the shift to Streaming continues unabated (with Children’s Streaming viewing up +18% from last year and Children’s Linear viewing down -22%).
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Note: Although Linear TV does not measure all traditional TV viewing and Streaming does not measure every title, the Combined Index provides a broad measure of national viewing of thousands of programs and films. Here are some examples of what is and is not in the Index.
LINEAR TV contains viewing on over 100 measured national broadcast networks (including network programs as well as syndicated programs) and national cable networks. The viewing can happen over the air on broadcast, on cable or satellite (either live or played back on DVR or VOD) or on a service such as YouTube Live or Hulu Live that retransmits linear TV channels. Some viewing on linear TV, such as local news and regional sports, are not included in these numbers.
STREAMING contains viewing on Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV+, Max, Paramount+ and Peacock. This includes original series, movies and specials made for streaming, as well as acquired television and feature film titles. Other viewing on streaming (titles not tracked by Nielsen’s SVOD service) is not included in this index. Also remember a show’s viewing can be split between Linear and Streaming. NCIS on CBS would go into the Linear TV bucket, while prior season binges would fall into the Streaming bucket.
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