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Drama and sports bolster broadcast viewing in October, according to The Gauge

5 minute read | November 2021

Headlines about wildly popular streaming programs aside, the combination of live sports and the new fall TV lineup was a boon for broadcast television in October. According to The Gauge, Nielsen’s total TV and streaming snapshot, broadcast gained 2 share points to represent 28% of total TV viewing in October. The uptick is the second consecutive monthly gain for broadcast, with time spent in October equal to time spent with streaming content. To gain share, cable and “other” each gave ground from a share perspective.

Two key genres were responsible for the rise in broadcast viewership: Sports, which was up 22% from September, and general drama, which increased a whopping 30% as viewers gravitated to the new programming season, which is now in full swing. Combined, sports and general drama accounted for 35% of the time viewers spent watching broadcast programming in October. 

While streaming’s total share of TV remained flat, The Gauge highlights two notable changes beneath the surface of the 28% share metric:

  • Linear streamers (e.g., Charter/Spectrum, DirecTV, SlingTV, etc.), which are included in the “other streaming” category, saw double-digit viewership growth
  • Netflix gained a share point to account for 7% of total viewing, with actual minutes viewed rising 5.5% on the strength of high-profile hits like Squid Game, You and Maid.

Total minutes viewed across Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ was down about 2.5% each; Hulu viewership was down 0.3%, while YouTube viewership increased 2.2%, amplified by the company’s linear offering.

Take me to the methodology details below.

Watch the video to hear Brian Fuhrer, SVP, Product Strategy at Nielsen dive into the interesting underpinnings of The Gauge. Stay tuned to see if broadcast will maintain its momentum next month or if new content being introduced on the streaming services will lure viewers to that platform. 



The Gauge provides a monthly macroanalysis of how consumers are accessing content across key television delivery platforms, including Broadcast, Streaming, Cable and Other sources. It also includes a breakdown of the major, individual streaming distributors. The chart itself shows the share by category and of total television usage by individual streaming distributors.

How is ‘THE GAUGE’ created?

The data for The Gauge is derived from two separately weighted panels and combined to create the graphic. Nielsen’s streaming data is derived from a subset of Streaming Meter-enabled TV households within the National TV panel. The linear TV sources (Broadcast and Cable), as well as total usage are based on viewing from Nielsen’s overall TV panel.

All the data is based on a specific time period for each viewing source. The data, representing a 5 week month, includes a combination of Live+7 for weeks 1 – 4 in the data time period and Live+3 for week 5. (Note: Live+7 includes live television viewing plus viewing up to seven days later. Live +3 includes television viewing plus viewing up to three days later.)

What is included in “OTHER”?

Within The Gauge, “Other” includes all other TV. This primarily includes all other tuning (unmeasured sources), unmeasured Video on Demand (VOD), Streaming through a cable set top box, Gaming, and other device (DVD Playback) use. Because Streaming via Cable Set Top Boxes does not credit respective streaming distributors, these are included in the “Other” category. Crediting individual streaming distributors from Cable Set Top Boxes is something Nielsen continues to pursue as we enhance our Streaming Meter technology.

What is included in “OTHER STREAMING”?

Streaming platforms listed as “Other Streaming” includes any high-bandwidth video streaming on television that is not individually broken out. What is included in “Other Streaming”?

Do you include live streaming on Hulu and YouTube?

Yes, Hulu includes viewing on Hulu Live and Youtube includes viewing on Youtube TV.

Encoded Live TV, aka encoded linear streaming, is included in both the Broadcast and Cable groups (linear TV) as well as under Streaming and other streaming e.g. Hulu Live, Youtube TV, Other Streaming MVPD/vMVPD apps. (Note: MVPD, or multichannel video programming distributor, is a service that provides multiple television channels. vMVPDs are distributors that aggregate linear (TV) content licensed from major programming networks and packaged together in a standalone subscription format and accessible on devices with a broadband connection.)

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