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Streaming viewership declines, broadcast viewership rises

As the SAG-AFTRA strike drags on and streaming platforms are left with less new, scripted content, new ratings indicate that September saw broadcast TV overtake streaming in overall viewership. That’s because with the return of the NFL and college football (and Major League Baseball heading into its playoffs), sports programming has led to a 13% overall rise in broadcast viewership. And those games aren’t short, which means it eats into time audiences might otherwise have spent online. Netflix scored the top three slots on Nielsen’s streaming ratings last month, but still saw its viewership dip overall between August and September.

According to Deadline, broadcast represented 23% of TV usage in September (nearly 30% in the 18-49 demographic), and while this is always a big shift in the numbers, this year has been bigger than in recent years. Last year, the start of the college and professional football seasons accounted for a 222% month-to-month increase in viewership for broadcast television. This year, the jump is 360%. That could be in part due to fewer people watching broadcast right now, with so few new scripted shows on the air.

Overall, cable viewership was up 25.5% month-over-month, although it lost about 1% of its share, presumably to broadcast. Cable accounted for around 29% of TV usage. While still the largest sector, September marked the second consecutive month when streaming lost ground to more traditional viewing platforms.

Netflix lost about 5% of its viewership in September, in spite of the three biggest shows — Suits, which it shares with Peacock, Virgin River and One Piece — all streaming on the platform. Prime Video jumped up about 7.5%, largely because Wheel of Time came back and Prime does have some live football (though not as much as broadcast or cable).

Overall, streaming accounted for about 37.5% of TV time, with 9% slated as “other” — presumably mostly home video on disc or tape.

With the writers and actors on strike this summer, studios struggled to figure out how to start the TV season. Most shows were simply delayed while some, like Quantum Leap, started production early and had some episodes in the bank. Disney has elected to put some of its streaming originals on ABC, and Paramount+’s high-profile relaunch of Frasier is set to air its first two episodes on CBS tonight, beginning at beginning at 9:15 ET/PT. ComicBook

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