Nielsen: Streaming Audiences in Dec. Up 46% YoY

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NEW YORK—The ongoing shift towards streaming media among TV audiences boosted streaming audiences to record levels in Dec. of 2022, with time spent watching streaming content up 46.1% on a yearly basis, according to Nielsen’s snapshot of TV viewing, The Gauge. 

Overall streaming gained 10.4 share points, climbing from 27.7% in Dec. of 2021 to 38.1% of total TV usage in Dec. of 2022. 

In contrast, broadcast usage was down 3.7% from November, and the category lost a share point to finish at 24.7% of total television, Nielsen said. 

The decline to broadcast viewing was driven by a sharp decrease in viewing to the general drama genre (-20%), and broadcast sports (-12.3%). Broadcast viewing in December was fairly flat compared with one year ago (+0.3%), and the category lost 1.4 share points compared to Dec. of 2021.

Cable viewing declined 2.4% versus November to end the month with a 30.9% share of TV. The changes in cable were driven by a 10.2% drop to cable news viewing, and the feature film genre, which jumped nearly 5% to 22.1% of cable viewing. On a year-over-year basis, time spent watching cable content declined 12% and the category lost 6.4 share points, Nielsen said. 

Overall TV viewing in the U.S. remained high in December, continuing momentum from November when time spent watching television soared 7.8% from the month prior. Similar to November 2022, December also recorded five days with over 100 billion minutes of TV viewing, including two of the top 10 most-watched days of television in 2022 (December 18  and December 25).

While December's TV usage was fairly flat on a monthly basis, the slight 0.3% increase gave it an edge over November to solidify it as the second-highest month in overall TV consumption in 2022, behind January. 

Similar to overall TV usage, December streaming usage was nearly even with November (+0.2%) and represented 38.1% of TV, losing one-tenth of a share point due to rounding. 

In another streaming milestone, Peacock made its debut in The Gauge this month, initiating coverage with a 1.0% share of TV and consistent growth demonstrated across previous measurement intervals, Nielsen reported. 

Notable changes in viewing among other streaming platforms included: 

Nielsen The Gauge

(Image credit: Nielsen The Gauge)
  • Viewing on HBO Max climbed by 18.1%—the largest usage increase across all named streaming platforms in The Gauge this month—and represented 1.4% of total TV consumption (+0.2 share pts.).
  • Netflix and YouTube each lost one-tenth of a share point vs. November, finishing at 7.5% and 8.7% of television, respectively.
  • Hulu usage was down 11% in December, which translated to 3.4% of TV (-0.4 share pts.).
  • Viewing of linear television on MVPD (multichannel video programming distributor) and vMVPD (virtual multichannel video programming distributor) apps represented 5.3% of total television usage and 14.0% of streaming usage in December (compared with 5.8% and 15.2%, respectively, in November). YouTube TV accounted for 14.3% of YouTube viewing (1.2 share points), and Hulu Live made up 10.1% of Hulu viewing (0.3 share points). Broadcast and cable content viewed through linear streaming apps also credits the respective category.

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.