Nielsen: Disney Is Top Media Distributor with 11.5% of TV Usage

The Walt Disney Company
(Image credit: The Walt Disney Company)

NEW YORK—Disney has landed on top of Nielsen's newly launched Media Distributor Gauge, which offers its first cross-platform view of total TV consumption across broadcast, cable and streaming and provides an aggregated view of TV consumption by media company. 

The new ranking, which removes the siloes of traditional television versus streaming, and puts all content distributors on a level playing field to allow for additional perspective of TV viewing, found that 14 media companies achieved a 1.0% or greater share of total TV usage. 

As the top performer in April, Disney accounted for 11.5% of TV viewing, with 42% of its share attributable to viewing on Disney+ and Hulu. 

YouTube was the No. 2 overall company with a 9.6% share of TV in April, followed by NBCUniversal at 8.9%, Paramount at 8.8%, and Warner Bros. Discovery at 8.1% to round out the top five. Netflix was sixth with 7.6% of TV, and the second-highest streaming distributor reported.

(Image credit: Nielsen The Media Gauge)

"With more programs available across platforms, it's vital for creators, advertisers and the industry at large to understand what and where audiences are watching," said Karthik Rao, CEO of Nielsen. "The Media Distributor Gauge is a perfect complement to the The Gauge and serves as the first convergent TV comparison of its kind. Together, these reports paint the most complete picture of TV viewing today, which is critical as we head into the Upfront."

This new insight is created by mapping all the various national media distributors — including broadcast and cable networks and streaming services — up to their parent company. 

Nielsen calculates the total minutes viewed on the TV screen for each network's services and aggregates those totals based on initial distributor mapping, ultimately arriving at a share of total TV usage for each parent company. The minimum reporting threshold for a parent company in The Media Distributor Gauge is a 1.0% share of TV. Similar to the fluctuation of monthly TV usage tracked in The Gauge, rankings within the media company view will also demonstrate shifts that correlate with the seasonality of TV viewing.

Nielsen is providing the new Media Distributor Gauge in addition to The Gauge: Nielsen's monthly snapshot of total TV usage in April 2024. 

The Gauge’s April data saw record-breaking viewership: the NCAA women's basketball tournament coverage on broadcast and cable, and Amazon Prime Video's new original series Fallout, which set a new high watermark for the streamer as its most successful program to date. From an overall usage perspective, time spent watching TV was fairly flat both month-over-month (down 2%) and on an annual basis (down 0.6%).

Cable was the only category in The Gauge to escape decline as it achieved a second consecutive monthly increase in share, moving up from 28.3% of TV in March to 29.1% (+0.8 pt.) in April. Cable sports viewing increased 28% vs. March, bolstered by NCAA basketball tournament coverage, NBA playoffs and the NFL draft. Women's NCAA basketball finals and semifinals coverage accounted for four of the top six cable telecasts in April, and the WNBA draft notched 17th. While cable viewing increased about 1% on a monthly basis, a year-over-year comparison shows viewing has declined 8.2% vs. April 2023, and its share has lost 2.4 points.

Broadcast viewing was down 3% in April, which equated to a 22.2% share of TV (-0.3 pt.). Similar to cable, women's sports were the bright spot in the broadcast category this month. The NCAA women's basketball championship game drew 17.6 million viewers on ABC (plus over 1 million more on ESPN), making it the top broadcast telecast in April by a large margin. The drama genre accounted for 29% of broadcast viewing, driven by Tracker, NCIS and Young Sheldon on CBS, and Chicago Fire and Chicago Med on NBC.

Streaming viewership declined 1.9% from March to April, prompting the category to lose just 0.1 share point to account for 38.4% of total television. Amazon Prime Video saw the largest increase among streaming services this month with a 12% monthly increase for 3.2% of TV (+0.4 pt.). Prime Video's April success was driven by its original series Fallout, which also topped all streaming titles this month with over 7 billion viewing minutes. YouTube, despite a 3% monthly decline in viewing, added a 15th month to its streak as the top streaming platform in The Gauge with a 9.6% share of TV in April.

(Image credit: Nielsen The Gauge)
George Winslow

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.