Cable TV’s Share of Viewership Falls Even as More People Watched Television





December saw a swell of people tune into television — with the last day of the year marking the most-watched day behind the Super Bowl as people tuned into New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day programming — but cable saw its share of viewership fall to a new low.

That’s according to data from Nielsen, which released its monthly breakdown of viewership. From a percentage perspective, cable hit a low of 28.2%, dipping below the 29% to 30% mark it had held for most of the year (peaking at 36.5% in May). A year ago, cable represented 30.9% of the total viewership. The firm noted, however, that total cable viewing did rise 1.3% from November, helped by the NFL and NCAA Men’s Football.

Cable wasn’t the only one to see a decline. Broadcast and streaming each saw declines in their share of viewership. The only category to see an increase was “other,” which encompasses gaming, audio streaming, and even playing DVDs or Blu-Ray. Its percentage nearly tripled from November.

The data suggests that while we were spending more time in front of the television, we weren’t necessarily watching cable or streaming. While sports continued to be the main driver of viewership, the lack of new programming hurt — fresh shows and movies — was a drag.

One of the big streaming winners in December was Fox’s free, ad-supported Tubi, which saw a slight bump in its share and ranked sixth among the different services, outpacing high-profile subscription services like Peacock and MAX. In November, Tubi wasn’t even listed among the top players.

On the programming side, the Dec. 30 NFL game, the Orange Bowl, the NFL Christmas Eve game and the Cotton Bowl took the top four top cable telecasts spots. Young Sheldon, which ends this year, was the top-watched show with 6.7 billion viewing minutes thanks to its presence on both Netflix and MAX. Netflix’s Leave the World Behind was another winner with 4.5 billion viewing minutes.

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