Report: Streaming 36.4 % of May US TV usage

June 20, 2023

Streaming accounted for 36.4 of time spent watching TV in the US in May, according to Nielsen’s May 2023 report of The Gauge, the media measurement company’s monthly snapshot of total broadcast, cable and streaming consumption that occurs via television. By comparison, 31.1 % of TV viewing was spent watching cable content, and 22.8 % with broadcast content.

Following trends that are typical for this time of year, total TV usage in the US declined for the fourth consecutive month in May, falling 4.4 % from April. Comparatively, time spent watching TV declined 2.7 % over the same period in 2022.

Time spent streaming (via a television) increased 2.5 % in May versus April, and streaming’s share of TV usage jumped from 34 % to 36.4 per cent. While a technical enhancement was a factor in the monthly uptick, approximately half of the increase was a reflection of viewing behaviour alone.

Representing 1.1 % of TV usage in May, the Roku Channel is the latest streaming service, and third free ad-supported television (FAST) service, to obtain stand-alone coverage in The Gauge. Combined, the three FAST services that are independently reported in The Gauge (Pluto TV, Tubi TV, Roku Channel) are each comparable in usage to Peacock and HBO Max, and in aggregate, accounted for 3.3 % of TV time this month.

Netflix and Prime Video each gained momentum in May, posting usage gains of 9.2 % (+1 pt) and 5.1 % (+0.3 pts), respectively. Roughly half of Netflix’s increase was due to the aforementioned technical enhancement, coupled with the fact that the top three streaming titles this month were Netflix Originals, including Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story (5.4 billion viewing minutes), A Man Called Otto (3.1 billion) and The Mother (3 billion). Prime Video benefited from the strength of its original series The Marvelous Mrs Maisel and Citadel (pictured), which combined for 2.7 billion viewing minutes. YouTube maintained its stance as the top streaming platform for the fourth consecutive month, gaining 0.4 share points in May (0.9 % usage increase) to account for 8.5 % of TV.


The Gauge, May 2023. Nielsen’s monthly snapshot of total broadcast, cable and streaming consumption that occurs via television.


Viewing via MVPD (multichannel video programming distributor) and vMVPD (virtual multichannel video programming distributor) streaming apps represented 5.5 % of total television use in May, including 1.3 % attributed to YouTube TV, and 0.4 % to Hulu Live. Compared with May 2022, overall streaming consumption has increased by more than 30 per cent, and streaming’s share of TV has risen 8.2 share points.

Broadcast and cable viewing each fell 5.5 % and 5.4 per cent, respectively, in May versus April, and each surrendered 0.3 share points. Broadcast sports viewing was down 25 % in May compared with April, and the genre represented 7.9 % of broadcast’s 22.8 % share. However, the Kentucky Derby still secured the top broadcast programme for the month, drawing 14.5 million viewers. By contrast, cable sports viewership rose 12 % in May. The increase was driven by the extensive coverage of the NBA Finals on ESPN and TNT, which also accounted for the top four cable programs this month. Additionally, despite the traction that the May 10th CNN Town Hall generated, cable news viewing fell more than 11 % from April.

On a year-over-year basis, broadcast viewing was down 5.6 % (-1.7 pts.), and cable viewing was down 13.7 % (-5.4 pts.).