Nielsen has made significant progress in determining just how big streaming is.

The 98 year old research firm announced today that they have developed a new metric that allows it to make an apples-to-apples comparison, on a percentage basis, of how many people are streaming movies and shows on their TVs vs. how many are watching traditional cable and broadcast channels.

Streaming services like Netflix, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu, Apple TV and Disney+ have revolutionized the viewing habits of millions of Americans in recent years, but they have also been very protective of their numbers, rarely sharing viewership data, if at all. Nielsen’s new metric provides a credible look at viewing habits on those platforms, according to The New York Daily News.

Nielsen’s new metric, called The Gauge, shows that people are spending more time watching TV the old fashioned way, but streaming is gaining fast. Nielsen reported today that 64% of the time American viewers used their TV sets in May 2021 was spent watching network and cable TV. 26% of the time was spent watching streaming services, and another 9% of the time was spent using TV screens for things like video games or watching movies and programs that were saved on DVR.

Nielsen also reported that the streaming share is rapidly increasing. The streaming share was at around 20% in 2020, up from around 14% in 2019. Nielsen anticipates that the streaming share could go up to around 33% by the end of 2021.

The current streaming leaders are YouTube and Netflix, with each securing 6% of total TV time. Hulu is next with 3%, while Amazon has 2%, and Disney+ has 1%.

For the streaming stats provided by The Gauge, Nielsen measured around 14,000 households through a piece of hardware that observes internet traffic that passes through a WiFi router. This is seen as a more rigorous methodology for streaming measurement.

Nielsen’s The Gauge comes in addition to its previous method of measuring how many people are watching streaming platforms. That method relies on audio recognition software included in Nielsen devices that are now in 38,000 households across the United States. Both metrics measure only what is viewed on TV screens, and do not include what is watched on laptops or phones. Nielsen uses the same audio recognition software in many of its homes to track the top streaming services, such as Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, and Hulu. They also release a weekly ratings report on the most-streamed series and movies. Nielsen said it will be updating stats from The Gauge monthly.

The Gauge is a new attempt by Nielsen to give a clearer picture of how American viewing habits have changed, one that better accounts for how people flip back & forth between their favorite TV network and the latest hit series on Netflix.

On a related note, updates on pro wrestling TV ratings have been limited as of late due to TV website Showbuzz Daily shutting down. For years we have had regular ratings updates on pro wrestling TV shows, released around the same time every week, but that changed back in May when Showbuzz went down. We will continue to report ratings from multiple credible sources, and apologize for any inconvenience.

Stay tuned for more on ratings and Nielsen.

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