U.S. TV Viewing Hits Four-Year High


TV viewing in the U.S. reached a four-year high in January, including the most-streamed day ever, according to Nielsen’s report of The Gauge.

January TV viewing levels were driven by an abundance of high-volume streaming days, NFL playoffs, colder temperatures and the long-awaited return of scripted broadcast programs.

January garnered nine of the ten highest daily streaming levels ever, with Saturday, January 13 marking the most-streamed day in history, totaling 40.8 billion minutes streamed—driven by Peacock’s coverage of the first exclusively streamed NFL playoff game.

Viewing levels were 1.4 percent higher than in January 2023, which not only had a longer reporting period of five weeks compared to four, but also included the peak viewing week between Christmas and New Year’s and a wealth of new programming.

This January included three of the top ten days of TV usage since the inception of The Gauge in May 2021 (January 1, 14 and 28), and marked the highest monthly TV usage total since January 2020 (excluding 2020 pandemic lockdown months).

Streaming usage was up 4.1 percent from December to account for 36 percent of TV usage. Peacock led platforms from a growth perspective with a 29 percent monthly increase, pushing its share to a platform-best 1.6 percent of TV. YouTube saw its 12th consecutive month as having the largest share among streaming services, with 8.6 percent of TV usage. Streaming original titles appeared to show signs of revival in January following a dominant year for acquired content in 2023: Netflix’s Fool Me Once was the first original to top the streaming charts since May 2023, totaling 6.5 billion viewing minutes across the month, and Reacher on Prime Video took the number four spot with 4.3 billion minutes.

Broadcast viewing was up 7.1 percent in January, taking its share to 24.2 percent of total TV. Sports viewing had the greatest impact on the category, with a 36 percent monthly viewing increase to account for 28 percent of all broadcast viewing. Broadcast drama viewing was up over 20 percent following some of the first new content releases of the season (led by new episodes across NBC’s Chicago franchise).

With cable, viewing increased 2.7 percent from December but fell to 27.9 percent of TV due to the larger increase in overall TV usage. News viewing was up 8 percent and topped all cable genres.

Linear (live TV) streaming via MVPD (multichannel video programming distributors) and vMVPD (virtual multichannel video programming distributors) apps represented 6.2 percent of total television usage in January. (Linear streaming is included in the appropriate broadcast or cable category and is not included in the streaming category.)