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May ushers in the summer of streaming
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May ushers in the summer of streaming

Much like many activities, television viewing has historical norms, many of which are driven by the calendar. The growth of streaming, however, continues to change history, as streaming viewership hit yet another new high in May, claiming 31.9% of total TV time.

May is historically the month when TV viewership is at its lowest, and this year fell in line with that trend, as total time with TV fell 2.7%. Compared with broadcast and cable viewing, however, streaming usage increased by 2%, amplified by the release of Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney+ and season 4 of Stranger Things on Netflix. The appetite for these titles was significant, helping the two platforms attract big viewership as the programs dropped: Disney+ attracted 2.5% of the total TV share  on May 27, and Netflix claimed 9.0% on Saturday, May 28.


Also in line with historical norms, broadcast and cable viewing both declined in May, as viewing volume fell 3.5% for each. Drama continued to drive broadcast viewership, with procedural crime dramas like NCIS, FBI and Blue Bloods helping the genre capture one-third of the broadcast viewing. While cable news viewing was down 4.2% in May, sports viewing was up 7%, accounting for 9% of total cable viewing. Notably, NBA playoff games accounted for the top six most-viewed cable programs during the month. 

Summertime marks a lull period for traditional television, and it could be an inflection point for the adoption of the expanding streaming platforms. Stay tuned for future iterations of The Gauge as we continue to map these trends.

Take me to the methodology details below.

Watch the video to hear Brian Fuhrer, SVP, Product Strategy at Nielsen provide a behind the scenes look at some of the viewing changes underpinning The Gauge.

METHODOLOGY AND FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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.