Streaming breaks another monthly record with 31.9% of May TV viewing: Nielsen

Streaming in May attained its third consecutive month of record-high TV consumption – 31.9% of total TV time – according to the Gauge, Nielsen’s monthly TV viewing snapshot.

Series premieres from Netflix and Disney+ contributed to the streaming viewership bump. Disney’s release of “Obi-Wan Kenobi” and season four of Netflix’s “Stranger Things” caused May’s overall streaming usage to increase by 2%.

“Stranger Things 4,” in fact, broke Netflix’s premiere weekend record for an English language TV show – with 286.7 million hours streamed.

Nielsen the gauge May 2022

Even though Netflix lost over 600,000 subscribers in the U.S. and Canada in the first quarter, research from Attest showed Netflix in Q1 saw a 2.8% increase in weekly U.S. viewership.

Disney meanwhile continues to ride on the success of the “Star Wars” franchise. Hollywood Reporter said “Obi-Wan Kenobi” clocked in at 1 billion minutes streamed for its first two episodes. A significant number considering Disney+ is releasing episodes weekly, as opposed to Netflix’s “all-at-once” model.

Disney has several “Star Wars” projects in the works. Most notably, the series “Andor” is set to premiere at the end of August, while season three of “The Mandalorian” will debut in February 2023.

Disney and Netflix’s viewership levels helped mitigate the 2.7% overall decline of total TV time, with Nielsen saying May is historically the lowest month for TV viewership.

Broadcast and cable viewing both declined in May, as viewing volume fell 3.5% for each. Both categories have continued to decline since March, after cable and broadcast views spiked in February – with sports events like the Winter Olympics and Super Bowl fueling that increase.

Sports gave cable viewing a slight leg-up in May, as sports viewing accounted for 9% of total cable viewership. NBA playoffs helped sports viewing go up 7%, with the games accounting for May’s top six most-viewed cable programs.

And despite broadcast TV’s steady decline, procedural crime dramas help maintain broadcast viewership. Long-running shows like “NCIS” and “Blue Bloods” helped the drama genre capture one-third of May’s broadcast viewing.

Nielsen anticipates the summer months will see a lull period in linear TV, while streaming platforms could continue to expand. Sports streaming could certainly see an uptick of viewers, what with YouTube streaming 15 MLB games during the 2022 season. NFL is also set to launch its first streaming service sometime in July.