The impact of high-profile content across the individual streaming platforms has never been more evident as it has been in July and August, particularly amid the summer slowdown of new content on traditional television, Nielsen assured in its latest “The Gauge” report. In fact, total streaming usage in the United States hit another record by claiming 35% of total TV usage in August, but audience engagement across platforms is starting to fluctuate depending on where the big-name content is.
On a year-over-year basis, streaming volume was up 22.6% compared with last August, while monthly usage was largely flat from July. At a platform level, audiences are going where the content is. In July, Netflix’s megahit “Stranger Things” inspired nearly 18 billion minutes of viewing. In August, that massive reaction subsided, contributing to 6.5% less usage and a 0.5-point loss in TV viewing share for the streamer. Comparatively, the much-anticipated debut of HBO’s “House of The Dragon” fueled a 13.7% increase in usage of HBO Max, resulting in a record 1.2% of TV time.
Meanwhile, YouTube continued to grow its streaming stake, adding 2.8% in volume to tie Netflix - for the first time - to account for 7.6% of total TV usage. YouTube is also benefiting from its YouTube TV platform, which accounted for 11.9% of all YouTube viewing in August on the heels of a 14.9% increase in usage over July.
Linear streaming (the aggregation of live television apps offered by vMVPDs and MVPDs), represented 4.2% of total television usage in August. Linear streaming examples include Sling TV, Charter/Spectrum, Hulu Live, and YouTubeTV. Within “The Gauge,” linear streaming viewing is reflected in the streaming bucket, and broadcast or cable content viewed through these apps also credits to its respective category.
Individual streaming platform trends aside, total TV usage was down slightly in August, which is typical as summer in the United States winds down. In fact, broadcast was the only category that had a volume increase (up 1.6%), which resulted in an additional half a share point. It was buoyed by an 11% bump in the General Variety category and a 3% increase in sports (NFL preseason, college football and the MLB Field of Dreams game). While down 0.4% from July, cable did benefit from a 13% rise in news viewing and a 27.4% increase in sports, led by NFL preseason games (on ESPN and the NFL Network) and the NASCAR Cup Series on USA Network.
Broadcast and cable viewing remained largely consistent from July, but year-over-year data highlights viewership declines of 10.9% and 9.4%, respectively. “Given what we know about TV viewing behavior, the August data may reflect the calm before the storm, given the arrival of a new TV season, a new season of the NFL and the race across the MLB to make it into the postseason. The September edition of ‘The Gauge’ will be a great illustration of how viewers engage with all that everything on TV has to offer,” Nielsen said.