Broadcast Sees October Gains Driven by Live Sports, But Still Not Enough to Overtake Streaming

By Jessica Lerner 

Linear TV consumption rose +2.2% in October, thanks to a packed live sports schedule and the upcoming midterm elections. However, the high-profile live programming on broadcast and cable was not enough to stop streaming content consumption from posting gains, according to the Nielsen Gauge report for October 2022.

Following the start of the new NFL season in September, leading into the new broadcast TV season, resulted in a +9.8% increase in broadcast TV viewing in October, which increased broadcast’s percentage of all TV viewing to 26% — marking its largest share since February 2022 (when the Super Bowl aired on NBC).

The general drama category overtook sports with a +42% increase in viewing volume to account for 26.7% of total broadcast TV viewership. However, live sports continued to draw sizable audiences (+19% increase in viewing volume vs. September). Despite the gains, overall broadcast TV usage fell -6.2% from Oct. 2021.


Streaming usage increased in October, albeit at a considerably slower rate (an increase of +3.3% and 0.4 share points), after maintaining more than a third of all TV usage since June 2022. Viewership share held steady in October after a busy summer of new content across streaming platforms. That said, there were a few noticeable increases in usage from September. Disney+ usage increased by +6.8%, while Hulu usage increased by +5%.

The constant addition of new content to streaming platforms demonstrates how many services are flourishing at the same time. The top five shows in October, according to minutes watched, were Dahmer, The Watcher, Hocus Pocus 2, House of the Dragon, and Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power. And viewership of such programming demonstrates the reasons why streaming usage has increased by +35.1% since October 2021.

Cable TV consumption decreased by -0.7% from September, but was still relatively flat in October as compared to broadcast and streaming. Sports was the biggest mover, increasing +25% to account for 9.6% of all cable viewing, while news remained the main driver of cable viewing (19.6%) and rose +3.3% over the month. On an annual basis, cable TV usage is down 4.1 share points and 8.6%.