Cable News Viewing Up 14% In March On Ukraine War; Streaming Takes 30% Share But Less Time Spent As Total TV Usage Falls

Overall TV usage was down 4.2% in March from February, with cable the one category growing in share and volume, jumping 1.6 points from last month. Cable news viewing was up 14% from February and accounted for 21% of the cable share, driven by continuing news coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war.

The stats were delivered today by Nielsen in its monthly snapshot of viewing, The Gauge.

The numbers also showed streaming captured its largest share of total television usage ever in March, making up nearly 30% of overall viewing time. Despite a 0.7% decrease in time spent streaming from February, viewing share across all streaming platforms was either flat or gained slightly in March. Most notably, the “Other Streaming” subset, which includes any high-bandwidth video streaming on TV that is not individually broken out, increased its share by 0.3% as more streaming platforms continue to gain traction.

Nielsen said March viewing for Total Day Persons 2+ saw streaming at 29.7% with the “other” category accounting for 9.8% of that. Netflix led with 6.6% followed by YouTube, Hulu, Prime Video and Disney+ with, respectively, 6%, 3.3%, 2.3% and 1.8%.

Cable stood at 24.9% and broadcast at 36.9%.

Broadcast viewing was down 1.1 share points from February, hit by a 53% decrease in sports viewing on tough moth-to-month comparisons with the Winter Olympics and the Super Bowl. Drama was the genre of choice for broadcast consumers in March, increasing viewership by 17% from February and accounting for one-third of broadcast’s share. While broadcast news consumption remained relatively flat at 14% of broadcast viewing, the volume of broadcast news programming dropped 6% versus the prior month.

Nielsen’s previous report from Feb. on Jan. stats showed streaming with a month-to-month increase of 12% from and gained a percentage point in share of viewing, reaching almost 29%, its highest share ever. The first week of January became the No. 1 streaming week since Nielsen began tracking the category in mid-2020, with 197.6 billion viewing minutes eclipsing the total for Christmas week in 2021. Streaming averaged 180 billion minutes on a weekly basis, another record.

Numbers for The Gauge come from two separately weighted panels. Streaming data is derived from a subset of TV households with Streaming Meters within Nielsen’s national TV panel. Linear TV broadcast and cable figures, as well as total usage numbers, are based on Nielsen’s overall TV panel.

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