Nielsen: TV Viewership Hits Four-Year High Led by YouTube

The NFL playoffs coupled with heavy streaming and the return of scripted broadcast programming sent January television viewership to a four-year high, according to Nielsen’s The Gauge, which charted a 1.4 percent viewership increase year-over-year — described as noteworthy in a month in which the NFL playoffs typically drive viewership higher. January 2024 included three of the top 10 highest-viewership TV days since The Gauge debuted in May 2021. YouTube continued its streaming dominance for the twelfth consecutive month, with 8.6 percent of January TV streaming viewership, according to The Gauge. Netflix was number two at 7.9 percent.

The climactic end to the football season “rippled into the streaming landscape, as the Wildcard game between the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs on Peacock generated almost 3.9 billion viewing minutes (including local viewing in Kansas City and Miami), and helped January 13 take the crown for having the largest daily volume of streaming on record,” Nielsen writes in The Gauge, which clocked 40.8 billion minutes streamed on that day.

In total, January 2024 “included nine of the top 10 days with the highest streaming volumes ever recorded by Nielsen, with New Year’s Eve 2023 (which was recorded in the December interval) sneaking in at No. 9.”

In a blog post celebrating its achievement, the Google-owned YouTube streaming service “announced that viewers now watch a daily average of over 1 billion hours of YouTube content on their televisions, which could indicate that there’s a preference for user-generated videos among U.S. consumers rather than traditional TV shows,” TechCrunch writes, noting that “61 percent of Gen Z reported that they favor user-generated content over other content formats.”

“Broadcast viewing was up 7.1 percent in January, which bumped its share to 24.2 percent of total TV,” reports TV Technology, noting Nielsen charted a 3.7 percent January 2024 viewership rise from December 2023.

A news release for The Gauge documents that “in a month of many high-impact days, streaming usage was up 4.1 percent over December to account for 36.0 percent of TV usage,” with Peacock leading “from a growth perspective with a 29 percent monthly increase, pushing its share to a platform-best 1.6 percent of TV.”

Cable viewing was up by 2.7 percent over December but declined overall to 27.9 percent of TV viewership due to the larger increase of overall usage. The ESPN broadcast of the College Football Playoff game between Michigan and Alabama led all cable programs for January. The next six most-viewed cable TV programs were also NFL and college football games, The Gauge reports.

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