22 JUL 2022

Streaming usage in the United States increases by 21% in a single year

The popular content viewing method now accounts for nearly one-third of total TV time consumption.

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Nielsen's recent "The Gauge" study reveals this month's total TV and streaming usage. "Compared with mid-2020, when connected TV usage skyrocketed as people stayed home amid COVID-driven shelter-in-place restrictions, total TV usage has returned to seasonal norms, but streaming has taken a much bigger seat at the table," a recent release explains. Between May 2021 and May 2022, streaming usage increased by more than 21%, which attracted an additional 5.6% share points for the streaming sector, which accounted for nearly 32% of total TV time in May 2022, up from 26% one year ago.

The increase in time spent streaming comes at the cost of cable consumption which has suffered in recent years. On a year-over-year basis, cable viewing dropped by 7.1%, reducing the channel’s share of TV time by 2.8 share points in May 2022 vs. one year ago. Comparatively, broadcast viewing has remained relatively stable, losing just an 0.8 share point decline in TV time over the past year due to a 3.3% reduction in viewing. "Beneath the surface of aggregate share change by channel, we can see the impact of streaming in greater detail," Nielsen states. "We can also see that streaming platforms have taken advantage of the seasonal lull in summertime viewing by introducing new titles with less competition for audience attention. For example, the release of season 4 of Stranger Things racked up more than 5 billion viewing minutes during its opening weekend in the last week of May."

Each of the six streaming platforms broken out in The Gauge by name (e.g., Netflix, Hulu, Disney+) grew its usage by double-digits between May 2021 and May 2022. Disney+ increased its consumption rate by 39%, helping the platform gain its share of total TV time by 0.5 share points over the year. YouTube, which includes YouTube TV, has seen the greatest increase in share, growing by a full point to take second place overall; Netflix saw a 12.7% increase in volume, fueling a 0.8% jump in share to 6.8% of total TV time. Netflix also retains its title as the most-used streaming service.  Amazon’s 20.8% increase in usage helped it gain half a share point, pushing it to 2.6% of total TV time.

In addition, the “other streaming” category, which includes the platforms that have not yet reached the 1% of share threshold to be broken out individually, has grown its share from 8% to 10.5% when HBO Max is included and increased by 32.4% on an impressions basis over the past year. Other streamers who gained from this period include TubiTV (75% increase in usage) and Peacock (71% increase in usage). "Amid the array of media choice, the past year serves as further evidence that streaming is the future of TV, and audience-first mindsets will be best positioned to engage viewers as connected TV usage grows toward ubiquity," Nielsen states. "Given the shifts we’ve seen over the past year, it seems likely that this summer may be remembered in the media industry as the summer of streaming—even more so than the pandemic lockdown period."