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Linear TV Viewing Declines in Q2 2022

family tv viewing
(Image credit: iStock)

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.—Linear TV viewing hit a yearly low in Q2 2022, with linear ad impressions reaching only half of all U.S. households, according to Samba TV’s newly released State of Viewership report

The report, which analyzes approximately 24 billion hours of linear and streaming during the second quarter of 2022, highlights the growing difficulties that advertisers are having in reaching targeted audiences with linear TV campaigns. 

“With 95% of all linear ad impressions now reaching only half of American television viewers, we have reached a tipping point for television and advertising more broadly,” said Samba TV CEO and co-founder Ashwin Navin. “This is a wake up call moment for our industry. It has become a business imperative for the advertising market to evolve away from legacy practices that are leading to significant waste and missed opportunities to embrace new solutions that do not oversaturate the same potential customers with the same costly ads while leaving tens of millions of households largely ignored,”

Key findings from the report include: 

  • Consumption of linear TV dropped to a yearly low as nearly all linear ad impressions reach only half of American households. In Q2, Linear TV dropped to a year low in minutes watched. With only half the population tuning in to traditional television each day on average throughout Q2 2022, advertisers face a heightened challenge in reaching the other half of household viewers through these mediums. Samba TV’s insights uncovered continued ad saturation across linear, with 95% of all ad impressions reaching only half of American households.
  • Gen Z and millennials are driving the shift away from linear TV. Millennials under age 35 watched nearly 25% less linear TV per week than households over age 35. Some decline in linear viewership can be attributed to different habits among age groups, with older generations remaining tied to linear and younger viewers switching to OTT services.  
  • Competition for entertainment content is at an all-time high. Platforms have only 30 days to capture audiences before they set sights on the next buzzworthy streaming show. In the world of streaming, the need to maintain fresh content is at a record high among platforms, with even the most-viewed series fizzling out after its first month and the rate of SVOD subscription churn increasing as viewers look to cut costs. Samba TV data shows over three quarters of 50-day premiere viewership on streaming platforms occurs within the first two weeks. By the 15th day after release, almost all top shows had driven more than 70% of their cumulative 50-day viewership. This jumped to more than 86% of the 50-day viewership after 30 days. 
  • SVODs risk churn with limited stickiness. For the second quarter in a row, both Disney+ and Netflix far outperformed all other streamers in driving multiple program engagements with subscribers. Across other streamers, over half of viewers watched only one of the platform’s top programs in Q2. On HBO Max, Apple TV+, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video, between 55%-62% of top program viewers watched just one program among the top 50 shows during Q2 2022. With subscription cycling on the rise (where viewers sign up for one show or move and then cancel), SVODs will need to find new ways to show viewers they are worth the money, whether that be through innovative programming or offering new, cheaper AVOD tiered offerings. 
  • Sports remain a saving grace for linear tv, with women’s sports demonstrating explosive growth. 80% of the top 50 reaching linear programs were related to sports, demonstrating how live sporting events continue to dominate the linear space. Notably, only four linear TV programs drove over 10 million household tune-ins this quarter, and each of them were tentpole sporting events. The Women’s March Madness tournament in particular saw a renaissance in viewership, experiencing an 81% increase in viewership year over year.

“A critical finding in the Q2 report points to the need for streaming platforms to think differently about how they market their content,” continued Samba TV’s Navin. “With more than $40 billion being spent this year alone on new content, consumers are overwhelmed by choices. Platforms need to ensure they are driving smart strategies ahead of content launches to draw in not just built in fans but broader viewers who may be interested. In today’s content streaming wars, just because you build it, doesn't mean viewers will come to it. We need to be much more strategic about how we drive engagement before, during and after launches.”   

Samba TV’s full State of Viewership Report is available here (opens in new tab).  

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.