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New data: Linear TV fell below 50% viewing share in July for the first time

Key stat: Share of viewing time between cable and broadcast TV in the US fell to a combined 49.6% last month, according to Nielsen.

  • Cable TV accounted for 29.6%, while broadcast made up 20.0%.
  • That’s a month-over-month decline from 51.4% linear TV viewing share in June 2023.
  • And it’s down even further YoY, from 56.0% in July 2022.

Where has the time gone? To streaming, mainly.

  • Streaming made up a 38.7% share of time spent across all TV viewing, according to Nielsen.
  • Viewers spend the most time with YouTube (9.2%) and Netflix (8.5%).

US time spent with digital video—which includes streaming, as well as mobile, desktop, and laptop—surpassed linear TV last year by 1 minute, according to our forecast.

  • By 2025, US adults will spend over an hour longer watching digital video over traditional TV.
  • Time spent with connected TV (CTV) is growing at a faster clip than mobile and desktop/laptop.

Should advertisers update their budgets? They already have.

  • US adults will spend 23.9% of their media time watching linear TV this year, but advertisers are allocating just 17.3% of their budgets to TV, per our forecast.
  • Non-linear TV passing the 50% mark likely won’t necessitate a change in strategy for advertisers, who have been investing in digital media’s better targeting and tracking capabilities for years.

But advertisers should take note of where digital time is being spent. YouTube and Netflix, where streaming viewers spend the most time, have both been making ad improvements.

Keep in mind, things could change. With the boost of fall sports, linear TV could see a month-over-month rise in September. An end to the Hollywood writers and actors strikes may have a similar effect. But those are small factors within a greater trend: Viewers are going digital, meeting advertisers where they already are.

This was originally featured in the eMarketer Daily newsletter. For more marketing insights, statistics, and trends, subscribe here.