Stream On. Stream On.

Depending upon what generation you are in, this morning’s revelation from Nielsen that July 2022 was the first month ever since they began measuring the total share of television among the buckets of cable, broadcast and streaming that the latter category was the platform of choice by a plurality of persons over the age of 2 was either inevitable or apocolyptic.

THE WRAP gleefully reported this morning:

Streaming accounted for a 34.8% share of total TV consumption. Cable came in at 34.4% and broadcast captured a 21.6% share. This is not the first time streaming has surpassed broadcast, but it is the first time it has topped cable.

Streaming had an increase in usage of +3.2% compared to June and gained +1.1 share points. According to Nielsen, the streaming average was 191 billion viewed minutes per week.

In July, cable viewing dropped -2% and -0.7 share points compared to June. Year-over-year, cable usage is down -8.9% and -3.3 share points.

Broadcast is down -3.7% in July compared to June, with a loss of -0.8 share points. Nielsen attributes the decline due to fewer sports (like the Olympics) being on the air, and also the lull in TV programming ahead of the fall TV season.

Well, as is unfortunately the case with a great deal of current Nielsen product, that’s true, but that’s only a part of the whole story.

A slightly deeper dive into the overall share trends showed that streaming’s year/year increase of 6.5 share points was not a zero sum game.  In the below-the-fold details, THE WRAP continued:

In July 2021, broadcast had a 23.8% share, dropping to 21.6% for July 2022 representing a year-over-year change of -9.8%.

Cable had a 37.7% share in July 2021, and dropped to 34.4% for July 2022, with a year-over-year change of -8.9%.

Streaming had a 28.3% share in July 2021, and jumped to 34.8% in July 2022. It’s had a year-over-year change of +22.6%.

Do the math–Streaming’s Y/Y gains came not only from legacy media, but 18% came from “other”, which includes activities such as video game play and even streams–anything that can be viewed on what Nielsen classifies as a “connected screen”.  So it’s not just the lack of NBA finals and the Olympics (the latter of which was an alleged driver for Peacock last summer), it’s also the choice of more people finding their way to a growing list of different services.

And yes, Netflix is a winner, but it is hardly qualified to do a full victory lap.  Yes, they were up by more than a full share point, but “other streamers”–services beyond the “big six” that qualify for Nielsen breakout–were up nearly two share points.  That includes Paramount+, Peacock and Apple TV+, each of which have added a number of highly acclaimed and, at least through their limited deployment of details, relatively highly-viewed alternatives to the likes of the soon-to-end STRANGER THINGS.

But before you completely bury the legacy channels note that the second and third most-viewed streaming platforms that did qualify for breakout, YouTube and Hulu, include viewing to their respective VMVPD platforms.  In other words, viewing to bundles of the more popular broadcast and cable channels, now being watched over the top as opposed to through a wire or even over the air.  So there’s likely been slightly less erosion of the viewing of non-streaming content, just a change in how and where people view it.

As we continually note, Nielsen’s snapshot is a partial one at that.  Unconnected devices are still not included, which particularly during a summer where more people are outdoors and traveling for the first time since the pandemic would likely be where more media consumption is occurring.  And that likelihood is even greater among younger adults and “digital natives”, to whom the idea of a tethered screen is simply not even in their consideration set.  To them, watching BETTER CALL SAUL on YouTube TV versus Comcast was autonomic.

Yes, change is occurring, and if streaming has indeed now reached the tipping point where the majority of breathing human beings now choose to consume media, well, that IS news.  But for me I’d rather the focus be on the fact that enough of those breathing human beings have evolved in HOW they consume it versus WHAT they consume.  The what is changing daily, and it’s clear that the earth hasn’t quite cooled on that front yet.

As we used to say, stay tuned.  However that’s done these days.

Until next time…


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