The Big List of TV Viewership Statistics [Updated for 2023]

Apr 26, 2023
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See all the latest trends in connected television, cable, and streaming in this thorough list of tv viewership statistics.

All the can’t-miss TV statistics on streaming, CTV, cable, and the future of TV advertising

Despite the fact that content can now be streamed on every possible kind of screen, television continues to reign supreme. Approximately 5.4 billion people worldwide have a TV in their household and the average US adult spends two hours and 33 minutes a day watching it. With the rise of CTV (connected TV), advertisers now have more opportunities than ever to connect with their audiences, free from the often-prohibitive advertising costs of linear television. 

Here are some exciting TV viewership statistics to watch in 2023 and some indicators of where TV advertising is headed in the near future.

Cable TV Viewership Statistics

Before moving into streaming and CTV statistics, we’d be remiss not to mention their wired cousin. In spite of the catchy headlines about cord-cutters, cable endures (for now). Roughly half of Americans have a cable subscription and it continues to be the preferred way to watch TV for older adults, affluent Americans, and sports fans. 

Who Watches Cable? 

Forty-nine percent of Baby Boomers have cable and 59% watch it for more than 10 hours per week. Contrast that with only 34% of people aged 18 to 29 who have cable and satellite, and the fact that the average cable package costs well over $100 a month, and cable TV’s audience emerges as an older, wealthier crowd. 

Sports coverage and cable news are two of the primary draws for cable audiences. Viewership of sporting events on cable increased by 22% in January of 2022, with ESPN being the sixth most-watched channel on cable TV. Big-name events like the Olympics and NFL playoffs continue to draw in audiences, though streaming is catching up quickly. NBC moved its Olympics channel to Peacock, the media giant’s streaming service last year and Apple is planning to pay $2.5 billion and $595 million for streaming deals with Major League Soccer and Major League Baseball, respectively. 

Cable news has its loyal fans, but it is also losing popularity with 57% of Americans saying they don’t trust mainstream media to tell the truth. Meanwhile, cable news stalwarts FOX and MSNBC are both seeing decreasing viewership (1% year-over-year for FOX News and 22% for MSNBC).

Cable TV vs. Streaming 

Streaming TV already won with younger generations, with 61% of adults aged 18-29 reporting that they never had a cable subscription. But streaming is gaining share in the market at large, with the percentage of cable TV viewers in the US declining from 76% in 2015 to 56% in 2021

And while cable is not likely to disappear entirely, TV viewership stats point to its imminent decline in relevance. Advertisers looking to maximize their audience reach may need to shift their marketing spend to CTV ads.  

To learn more about cable TV statistics, read 13 Cable TV Statistics Marketers Should Know in 2023.

Streaming Service Statistics

A few years ago it seemed like a new streaming service was launching every week, and yet, industry giants like Netflix and Amazon Prime remained (and for the most part, remain) resilient to competition. Nevertheless, new forms of streaming, including ad-supported video-on-demand services, are quickly gaining popularity with consumers. Here is what the numbers have to say about the latest in streaming TV.

Streaming Is Soaring, But Churn Rates Are a Concern

As of December 2022, 115.6 million American households use video streaming services; that’s about 89% of all American adults. That means even Americans with a cable subscription are likely paying for streaming services to augment their content options. Streaming is continuing to bring in growing revenue, projected to reach $40 billion this year. 

However, subscriber loyalty is a problem, as many users tend to take advantage of free trials to watch a few shows and then cancel. The average churn rate is 37%, and it’s over 50% for Millennials and Gen Z. It’s one of the reasons why competition among the industry giants remains steady. Netflix still sits at the top of the streaming services food chain, with 78% of households paying for a subscription. Amazon Prime is second at 72% and Hulu comes in third at 50%. Disney+, while not in the top three, has had the most rapid growth, going from 33.5 million subscribers in 2020 to 137.7 million in 2022

Ad-Supported Streaming Is Growing

A new star is rising in the streaming world, and it's one that holds a lot of promise for advertisers: ad-supported video-on-demand. In fact, paid, ad-supported streaming, such as Netflix Basic, is now the fastest-growing category in streaming, up 33% from 2021 to 2022. The Roku Channel, a free ad-supported service currently holds the top spot, with 21.5% of respondents in a Statista survey saying they’re using the service. Tubi and Peacock are also rising in popularity.

More viewers using ad-supported streaming services means more opportunities for marketers to connect with their target audience, which makes this an exciting space to watch in the coming months.

For more streaming service stats, read 10 Streaming Service Statistics We're Watching in 2023.

Connected TV Statistics

Connected TV (or CTV) has firmly established itself as the primary way Americans stream content at home. That means performance marketers are no longer asking themselves if CTV ads are worth it. Instead, they’re trying to figure out the most popular platforms and how to utilize the tools available to increase their audience reach. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most noteworthy TV viewership statistics for CTV.

Who Is Watching CTV

The short answer is, almost everyone. Seventy-one percent of US households have at least one connected TV. Viewership is expected to rise to 56.1 million for Gen Z users by 2025, which means the future of television lies with streaming, if America’s favorite big small screen is to live on with the new generations. 

Viewers say that while original content is important, marathoning old classics could be more so, especially for Millennials and Gen Z, 71.5% of whom say that being able to watch tried-and-true favorites is a must for them to sign up for a streaming service. 

How Advertisers Are Responding 

Performance marketers are seeing the potential of CTV ads, with 21% of digital video advertisers moving their budgets away from linear TV to ads that can be streamed on CTV. Eighty-one percent report doing so because of targeting and better efficiency, and 46% of those who switched say that they’re now better able to measure their ROI on ad spend. But what do the viewers think of CTV ads? For the most part, surveys show that they don’t seem to mind them. At least, not nearly as much as they do ads on linear TV, with 42% saying that the ad length was better on streaming services, and interestingly enough, 26% said that they enjoyed the fact that the ads were more relevant to their interests. 

This is an exciting data point for performance marketers who now have the consumer go-ahead to create appealing ads with the same precision with which they would craft a social campaign but on a bigger screen. Our playbook on CTV advertising digs deeper into this and other strategies - click below to download your free copy:

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Want to see even more connected TV statistics? Check out  30+ Connected TV Statistics That Show Where to Meet Audiences in 2023.

Connected TV Advertising Statistics

Marketers are going all in on CTV ads. In 2022, CTV ad spend came to $21.16 billion, making up 6.1 % of all media ad spending. By the end of this year, 16.5% of all US display ad spend is predicted to go to CTV. These numbers are likely to increase as targeting becomes more refined and more personalized and as more marketers become comfortable with buying CTV ads, either directly through streaming ad sellers or programmatically via DSPs.

Advertisers Are Seeing Results

While CTV advertising is still new to the marketing community, those who adopted it are reporting strong results. Pre-roll CTV ads have a 94% viewer completion rate (as opposed to 74% on laptop and 69% on mobile), and 23% of CTV viewers bought something after seeing an ad, compared to only 12% of linear TV viewers. Moreover, there seems to be a positive correlation between CTV awareness campaigns and search and social campaigns: Advertisers reported 22% higher conversion rates for paid search and 9% for paid social following a CTV ad run.

Overall, 36% of performance marketers say that CTV ads are more effective at driving ROAS than linear TV, which means we’ll likely see more brands across industries investing in streaming ads in the near future.

See a full list of CTV advertising statistics by checking out 17 Connected TV Advertising Statistics to Guide Your Strategy in 2023.

OTT Statistics About the Future of Streaming Media

Over-the-top (OTT) content — content streamed over the internet as opposed to traditional linear TV — is now the primary way people in the US watch television. In fact, the average American went from watching 44 minutes of OTT content in 2018 to 70 minutes in 2022. And the revenue speaks for itself (industry analysts predict it will hit $137.8 billion in 2023 in the US market alone). 

OTT Is Overtaking Linear TV by Leaps and Bounds

TV viewership statistics are showing a trend in decline for linear TV and a rise in OTT. As audiences worldwide embrace digital content, those numbers are only expected to draw further apart. OTT is expected to have a 53% user adoption rate globally by 2027 (it currently sits at 45.7%). Global revenue generated by OTT content is already in the billions of dollars. Meanwhile, global revenue for traditional TV is predicted to shrink at a -0.8% CAGR, from $231 billion USD in 2021 to $222.1 billion USD by 2026.

Considering these numbers, it is hardly surprising that savvy performance marketers are transitioning their efforts to CTV ads where they can reach a much wider audience, all while using precise, data-driven targeting techniques that not so long ago were reserved for search and social campaigns.

For more statistics on OTT, read 12 OTT Statistics That Reveal the Future of Streaming Media.

TV Advertising Is for Everyone

Connected TV puts advertising back within reach for brands of all sizes. tvScientific is one of the first performance-based and performance-priced advertising platforms that aims to simplify TV ad buying and make targeted TV advertising accessible to more companies. To learn more about our solutions, reach out for a free demo.