Broadcast, Cable TV See Rare Viewership Bumps in August, Nielsen Reports

Variety shows, reality stalwarts, politics and football drew fans back to cable and broadcast in August, bumping viewership for traditional TV back to over half of all viewers, Nielsen said Tuesday.

The combined share of broadcast and cable television, rose to 50.6% of total TV usage in August from 49.6% in July, according to data from Nielsen’s monthly report on the television market.

Broadcast and cable viewing saw gains of 1.6% and 1.7%, respectively, the report said.

For broadcast, it was the first month since January that viewership increased. Nielsen said “America’s Got Talent” and other “participation variety” shows were popular draws, with 16.9% of viewers, while with reality programming, particularly “Big Brother” drew 24.8% of the audience.

News — specfically the first debate of the 2024 presidential cycle, which drew 12.8 million viewers to Fox News — remained a traditional TV stalwart, drawing 20.8% of all viewing in August.

Sports, including the NFL preseason, drew 6.7% of all viewing.

Nielsen said 85% of the gains across cable were driven by viewers 65 and older.

Meanwhile, streaming saw a 1.6% drop in usage as summer vacation wound down and kids returned to school. Viewing among the 2-17 age group dropped, accounting for 80% of the decline in streaming usage.

Despite popular shows like “Suits” and “The Lincoln Lawyer,” Netflix saw usage plunge 4.8% during the month. The decline came two months into the streaming giant’s crackdown on password sharing.

Peacock saw the biggest gains among streamers, with usage rising 8.3% thanks to events like “WWE SummerSlam,” plus shared coverage of the NFL Hall of Fame Game and the popular pull of “The Super Mario Brothers Movie.”

“Despite its current stronghold with viewers, streaming platforms will see more competition in September as both the MLB playoff race narrows, and broadcast and cable benefit from broader coverage of new NCAA and NFL football seasons,” Nielsen said in its report.

The ongoing Hollywood strikes are likely to have an impact on viewership in the coming months, the report said.

“With new scripted content in shorter supply this fall, it will be interesting to see how audiences navigate what remains a very vast and expanding TV landscape.”

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