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The Data is In: Streaming Outperforms Broadcast TV

Photo by Dario KJZ via Unsplash

The Data is In: Streaming Outperforms Broadcast TV

By Movieguide® Staff

Although many analysts saw the past year as a definite turning point regarding audiences switching from traditional broadcast television to streamers like Netflix, new data confirms the claims.

The popular data firm, responsible for most of the television and streaming data amid the COVID-19 pandemic, released data that shows streamers attracted more viewers than broadcast TV in May 2021.

Nielsen is calling the measurement of streamers and other platforms “The Gauge.”

The largest streaming service Netflix and primary video-sharing site, YouTube, made up 12 percent of Americans’ total time in front of a TV.

According to Nielsen, streamers earned 26 percent of viewers while over-the-air networks accounted for 25 percent. Cable held the most considerable total TV usage with 39 percent.

The Hollywood Reporter reported:

That’s a big change from the standard line from streaming companies in recent years, which has been that Nielsen’s measurement doesn’t provide a full picture of streaming’s reach. In 2017, when Nielsen released some viewer figures for the second season of Stranger Things, Netflix said the numbers were “not even close” to accurate. (Hastings also told the Times that the weekly program rankings for streaming are “not very relevant” for SVOD platforms like Netflix that don’t sell ads.)

Netflix also has reason to tout the Nielsen findings, as they show that the company accounted for 6 percent of all TV usage in May. That’s tied with YouTube (including the YouTube TV bundle) for first among streamers; each makes up more than a fifth of all streaming time on TV. Hulu (including its live TV service) took up 3 percent of TV time, Amazon’s Prime Video 2 percent and Disney+ 1 percent. All other streaming combined — including Apple TV+, HBO Max, Paramount+, Peacock and Discovery+ — made up 8 percent of of total usage.

Analysts suspect that the shift is due to the pandemic, which changed the entire landscape of the entertainment industry.

“The past year has categorically shifted the television viewing landscape,” Brian Fuhrer, senior VP of product strategy at Nielsen, said. “Even as people begin to dive back into their pre-pandemic activities, based on the changes many made to enable streaming coupled with the variety of newly introduced services, we expect people to keep sampling and exploring their options. Maybe just as importantly, as production ramps back up, new content will enter the space, driving additional traction.”

Netflix supported Nielsen’s data, telling The New York Times that the firm is “in a good place to referee or score-keep how streaming is changing the U.S. television landscape,” Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings said.

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