Despite the surge in television usage during the Thanksgiving holiday, total TV viewing managed to increase slightly in December (0.3%), amplified by two of the top 10 viewing days of the year. Total TV usage aside, engagement with content options continues to fragment as audiences gravitate to new titles and services, Nielsen noted in its latest report.
The competition for viewers in December led to losses of viewing share across broadcast, cable and streaming. The “other” category benefited, gaining 2 share points, driven in part by video game usage during holiday vacations and the gift-giving season. Within the streaming category, Peacock became the latest service to achieve a 1% share of TV usage, crossing the threshold to be broken out from the “other streaming” category.
As seen in November, December included five days that boasted more than 100 billion viewing minutes (including Christmas Day and December 18). Streaming continued its reign as the top category, capturing 38.1% of total TV usage, down just 0.1% from November. Despite the slight loss of total TV usage share, time spent streaming actually increased 0.2% from November.
Among the streaming services, HBO Max gained the most usage (18.1%), fueled by the second season of “The White Lotus” and the popularity of “Friends” and “The Big Bang Theory.” On a year-over-year basis, streaming usage in December was up 46.1%, resulting in a gain of 10.4 share points from a total TV usage perspective.
Broadcast and cable viewing declined (3.7% and 2.4%, respectively), reflecting less-robust offerings than were available in November and a post-election drop-off, which was most evident across cable. Even with the strength of World Cup viewing, sports viewing on broadcast slipped 12.3%, while drama viewing dropped 20%. Comparatively, feature film viewing increased 27% as the only genre to see increased engagement across broadcast. Cable benefited similarly, as a 4.9% jump in holiday movies helped the category capture 22.1% of cable viewing.
“Fall TV viewing remains pivotal from a content perspective, and linear programming continues to draw large audiences, especially as the new TV season arrives each September. Amid the mix of must-see TV and sports, however, streaming remains the most popular option when compared with broadcast and cable among viewers,” the report concluded.