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U.S. TOTAL VIEWING INDEX: Streaming & Linear TV

November 16, 2023 by Mitch Metcalf

Last week we introduced our very broad measure of television viewing behavior in the U.S. We started with linear or traditional TV, totaling up all the hours of national programming measured by Nielsen (on broadcast, cable and syndication – just about everything except local programming).

  • Looking at the first six weeks of the fall TV season, Nielsen has measured 639 million hours of national programing a day (a little over two hours per person per day).

  • Viewing on major streaming platforms that can be attributed to specific titles adds up to 232 million hours a day (almost one hour per person per day).

  • The combined national viewing total of nearly 900 million hours of programs per day (around three hours a day per person) is down a scant -3% from the same period last year. Much of that decline can be attributed to the lack of original scripted programs this fall because of the writer and actor strikes

  • The strong double-digit growth for streaming and near double-digit declines on linear TV continues long term trends

  • Where does your program fit into this landscape? What piece of the Linear or Streaming pie does it claim? Contact us for more information on how we can help.

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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