Nielsen’s The Gauge report for the month of February reveals TV usage dropped overall, while streaming remained strong. In addition, Tubi grabbed 1% of total streaming viewership for the first time, joining Pluto TV as the only two ad-supported platforms.
Much can be said about the seasonality of TV usage, and viewing trends in February were very much in line with historical norms, as total usage of TV dropped 5.1% from the previous month, according to Nielsen’s The Gauge.
While in line with seasonal norms, TV engagement in February confirms a very basic truth: viewership reflects the availability of what audiences are looking for.
Across categories, February had fewer high-demand, mass-appealing programs than January, which led to declines in viewership across broadcast, cable and streaming. January is always a banner month for TV viewing, highlighted by the culmination of the NFL season, which sets the bar very high.
Audiences did not, however, have a shortage of content options in February, especially across streaming platforms, which welcomed a wide array of original and acquired content, complemented by a host of movie additions, including Black Panther: Wakanda Forever on Disney+. As a result, streaming platforms remained the favored destination for TV audiences, but overall viewing to streaming content was down 0.9% from January – the smallest decline across categories. Despite the drop in total streaming viewing, the category gained 1.5 share points to account for 34.3% of TV usage.
Within the streaming category, Tubi TV became the latest service to achieve a 1% share of TV usage, joining Pluto TV as the second free, ad-supported platform to be broken out from the “other streaming” category.
Other streaming highlights in February included:
New Amsterdam was the most-viewed streaming program, with 4.6 billion viewing minutes across Netflix and Peacock.
The Last of Us was the second most-viewed program, with 4.4 billion viewing minutes on HBO Max.
Viewing on YouTube (main) was up 2.5%.
The arrival of a new season of You on Netflix generated 4.2 billion viewing minutes, but overall usage on the platform was down 6.7%.
Usage across broadcast and cable was down 9.2% and 5.7%, respectively. Sports viewing on broadcast was down 64.7%, with only the Super Bowl to rely on after the NFL playoffs concluded in January, and the 3.6% rise in drama viewing and the 6.8% rise in sitcom viewing weren’t enough to cover the loss.
As was the case on broadcast, a 2.4% rise in cable news viewing (driven by the State of the Union address) wasn’t enough to cover the 34.6% drop in sports viewing, resulting in a 5.7% drop in total cable viewing.