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Fall TV and football fuel a rise in September broadcast viewing according to The Gauge

5 minute read | October 2021

The arrival of the first real fall TV season in two years and the return of football (with fans) combined to drive big viewership in September, with broadcast programming gaining 2 share points to represent 26% of total TV usage. The rise represents the second consecutive increase in broadcast viewing and a high since the May 2021 debut of The Gauge, Nielsen’s Total TV and Streaming viewing snapshot.

The new NFL season has attracted a wealth of enthusiastic sports fans, while the new broadcast TV season has provided an infusion of new content and excitement, both of which were largely absent last year as a result of hampered production due to the pandemic.

While the share of broadcast viewership was a big mover in September, the “other TV” category of The Gauge lost 2 share points, which is attributable to a decrease in video gaming. That decline coincides with both the new school year and the new football season.

Streaming and cable’s aggregated shares of viewing both remained consistent with August, but Netflix and Disney+ each dropped a share point, while YouTube, which includes YouTube TV, stayed constant at 6%, according to Nielsen’s Streaming Platform Ratings. The “Other Streaming” category also gained in September, driven by a combination of engagement with additional services and linear streaming services, such as Sling TV.

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.

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.)

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.

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

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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