Television viewing in the United States rose in December, which recorded the second highest daily viewing minutes of the year, only surpassed by the Super Bowl. On New Year’s Eve, television usage reached 105 billion minutes. That is almost 200,000 years in a single day, or over five hours per person in the country. However, viewing of broadcast channels over the month declined to a 23.5% share of television usage.

Five days in December recorded over 100 billion television viewing minutes in the United States, according to Nielsen data. The Gauge, its monthly snapshot of total television viewing, reveals the share of total television usage.

While all but the broadcast category showed monthly increases in usage, the “other” viewing category was the only one to gain in share in December, partly driven by increased video game console usage among younger demographics.

Following four consecutive months of growth, viewing of broadcast channels decreased, with adults watching 13% less broadcast programming than in November, which reduced the category to a 23.5% share of television usage.

Share of monthly television viewing in the United States in 2023. Source: Nielsen Gauge

Nielsen divides traditional television viewing into broadcast and cable categories, which together still comprise over half of all television usage, with a combined percentage of 51.7%. That figure fell just below half in July but at the start of the year it was 55.6%.

Viewing of online video services increased by 1.2% in December but that was not enough to maintain its share of overall viewing, which fell slightly to 35.9% of overall television usage. That was the lowest share since April but is nevertheless well over a third of all viewing.

Netflix alone accounted for 7.7% of television usage, while YouTube’s share of television viewing was slightly reduced at 8.5%. Amazon Prime Video accounted for 3.3% of all viewing, ahead of Hulu, Disney, Peacock, Max, Paramount, and others.

When Nielsen launched the Gauge in May 2021, only five online video services accounted for more than 1% of total television usage. Now there are nine, with a couple of others just below that percentage.

Gracenote reports that television audiences in the United States can now find programming more than 32,000 linear channels and 89 online video sources.

The explosion of choice has not produced an increase in total television usage. It has simply resulted in viewing across a wider range of sources.

According to Nielsen, the average adult in the United States spends about 32 hours each week with television during warmer months and another two or three hours a week when the weather gets colder.

Live viewing now represents less than half of all television usage across all individuals, with connected television making up over 43%. Over 70% of homes in the United States now own a smart television.