The Gauge, a new monthly viewing measure from Nielsen, shows that online video usage has risen to over a quarter of all time spent viewing television in the United States. 64% of television viewing is still to broadcast and cable channels. Nielsen describes it as the first tangible example of putting together streaming and television in one picture, giving a much better understanding of how everything fits together across the television environment.

The Gauge aims to show monthly total usage of television for broadcast, cable, streaming and other viewing.

Other viewing includes video on demand and streaming through a set-top box, gaming and other device use, such as disc players.

Online viewing also contributes to the broadcast and cable segments. Online viewing on other devices, such as phones, tablets and computers, is not reflected in total television viewing.

The Gauge suggests that in May 2021, across all viewers, Netflix received 6% of total television usage. YouTube, including YouTubeTV, received a similar percentage, just behind Netflix. Hulu, including Hulu Live, accounted for 3%, while Amazon Prime Video saw 2% and Disney+ had 1%. Other streaming accounted for 8%. Together, these streaming sources made up 26% of television viewing, with Netflix accounting for less than a quarter of that.

Nielsen Gauge 2021 May. Source: Nielsen.

At 6% of total television viewing, Netflix is not to be underestimated, but it is clear that it currently only constitutes a minority of the total time that people in the United States spend watching television.

In comparison, the broadcast category accounted for 25% of total television viewing. That is channels that are available free to air, however they are received. The cable category, which is essentially subscription channels, however they are received, accounted for 39%.

The data are derived from two separately weighted panels. Streaming data come from a subset of television households in the national television panel that have a streaming meter, while linear sources and total usage are based on viewing from the overall television panel.

“The past year has categorically shifted the television viewing landscape. Even as people begin to dive back into their pre-pandemic activities, based on the changes many made to enable streaming coupled with the variety of newly introduced services, we expect people to keep sampling and exploring their options. Maybe just as importantly, as production ramps back up, new content will enter the space, driving additional traction,” said Brian Fuhrer, who heads product strategy at Nielsen.