With kids settled into their summer breaks in July, they continued to have an outsized effect on TV usage. While overall TV usage was up just slightly from June (0.2%), viewing among people under the age of 18 increased 4%, and viewing among adults 18 and older fell 0.3%. These trends resulted in increased streaming and “other” usage, which is primarily attributed to video game consoles.

An array of new original programs arrived on streaming platforms in July, including The Witcher and The Lincoln Lawyer on Netflix, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan on Prime Video and The Bear on Hulu, but acquired content was the stand-out for the month. Suits, streaming on Netflix and Peacock, and Bluey on Disney+ were the most watched programs in July, accounting for 23 billion viewing minutes. Suits, however, set new viewing records for an acquired title, amassing almost 18 billion minutes. In aggregate, the heavy viewing levels pushed streaming’s share of TV to 38.7%, a new record, with Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and YouTube all hitting all-time highs.

Sports and Drama Lead Broadcast, While Cable Slips

Comparatively, sports on broadcast generated almost 25 billion viewing minutes in July, albeit across a range of channels. Most would consider July a slow month for sports, given that broadcast sports viewing typically more than triples when September starts. While the FIFA Women’s World Cup provided a boost at the end of the month, drama remained the most watched category, capturing 25.7% of viewing. Overall, total broadcast viewing was down 3.6% to finish the month at 20% of TV, representing a new low. On a year-over-year basis, broadcast usage was down 5.4%.

Cable viewing slipped as well, losing a full share point to capture 29.6% of TV in July. Feature film was the only genre to see a rise in viewership (0.5%), despite the fact that usage fell 1.5%. Viewing across virtually all others dropping from June. ESPN’s Home Run Derby and the College World Series took the top 2 slots, followed by When Calls The Heart on The Hallmark Channel. On a year-over-year basis, cable usage was down 12.5%.

Fall Seasons Could Shift Viewing Patterns Again

The arrival of fall will likely result in a seasonal shift in TV viewing, especially with the arrival of a new NFL season. In November 2022, for example, sports accounted for 150 billion viewing minutes on broadcast. The potential for less new original primetime content this fall presents a unique situation for broadcast and cable, but the recent success of acquired programming on streaming channels highlights the outsized strength of quality content, regardless of when it was created.

August 2023 (July data)

Source:

Streaming grabs a record 38.7% of total TV usage in July, with acquired titles outpacing new originals | Nielsen