28 MAR 2022

TV viewing in February was the lowest in five years in the United States

Despite some high-profile sport events and worldwide news, viewing in February 2022 was down 5.7% from January, and below the 5% average over the past five years, according to Nielsen data.

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Super Bowl LVI

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February TV engagement always lags January, which shines as the heaviest viewing month of the year. This year was no exception, despite the trifecta of the Super Bowl, the Winter Olympics and the increased demand for news of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine late in the month, Nielsen noted in its latest report.

January 2022 was a five-week month, including the heavy usage week right after Christmas, which amplified its TV viewing prowess, resulting in an even bigger dip in February 2022 television viewing than average: viewing was down 5.7% from January, below the 5% average over the past five years, according to Nielsen.

January 2022 set the bar very high, as streaming surged and broadcast boomed to provide an 8% bump in total viewership. But February was not without its high points, as the Super Bowl gave broadcast a leg up over the streamers enjoying its highest weekly share of viewing (28.7%) since October 2021. As is typical when global news breaks, cable and broadcast news viewing spiked in late February when Russia invaded Ukraine. Cable viewing increased 54% in the fourth week, helping cable news gain one-fourth of all cable viewing (up from 16%-17%). Comparatively, broadcast news increased by 6.3% to 15.3% in the final week of the month, elevating the genre to second-largest behind drama.

While the Winter Olympics certainly boosted sports viewing in the month, a look at week-by-week broadcast viewing in the sports events genre highlights the impact of Super Bowl LVI.

The sports-heavy month was also a boost for streaming, as Peacock usage hit all-time highs, carrying both the big game and the winter games. Peacock usage peaked during Super Bowl week, while remaining robust during the Olympics. Outside of sports, however, streaming’s share of viewing was largely flat month-over-month.

“February was big for video gaming, as the ‘other’ category gained almost a full share point due to increased time consumers spent video gaming during the President’s Day holiday, and other winter breaks around the nation, amplified by the highly anticipated release of games like ‘Elden Ring,’ ‘Horizon Forbidden West’ and ‘Destiny 2’,”  said Brian Fuhrer, SVP of Product Strategy at Nielsen and the author of the report.