Total TV usage in the United States trended down another 1.9% in April, as is typical when the weather starts to warm up, according to Nielsen latest “The Gauge” report. Yet despite the drop in total usage, an active news cycle contributed to a second month of share gains for cable, which picked up 0.4 share points to account for 31.5% of TV usage.
The strength of the news cycle helped cable remain largely stable from a usage perspective, as cable viewing was down just 0.6% from March. In fact, news was the only cable genre that did not experience a dip in usage: viewing was up 4.3%, accounting for 19% of cable usage in April. Former President Trump’s court appearance in New York on April 4 fueled daily usage spikes of 93%, 44% and 39% on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, respectively. On a year-over-year perspective, cable content viewership was down 12% (5.3 share points).
Meanwhile, broadcast usage dipped 2.7% in April, losing 0.2 share points to account for 23.1% of total TV use. The NCAA basketball tournament and The Masters golf tournament were the most-viewed broadcast programs, but sports viewing did slide 17.1% in aggregate to account for just 9.6% of the category. Dramas attracted a 2.1% viewing increase, driven by titles like “NCIS,” “Blue Bloods” and “Chicago Fire.” On a year-over-year perspective, broadcast viewing was down 3.7% (1.6 share points).
In the streaming space, according to Nielsen, competition is causing shifts in usage shares, while seasonality contributed to a 2.1% dip in viewing across the category. Netflix viewing, for example, dropped 7%, translating to a loss of 0.4 share point, despite having the top two programs from a viewing perspective: “The Night Agent” and “Love is Blind.” Comparatively, usage increased across two free, ad-supported options: Tubi TV usage grew 6% and Pluto TV usage increased 3.9%.
The report also highlighted that while Disney+ viewership was down 1.7%, “The Mandalorian” was the third-most streamed title in April. Meanwhile, YouTube – excluding YouTube TV – remained the most-used platform, with usage increasing 1.5% to help the platform capture 8.1% of TV usage.