CTV Insights & Tools

Nielsen Launches The Media Distributor Gauge, First Convergent TV Comparison of its Kind


Building on industry-defining The Gauge™, new insight shows total cross-platform view of audience engagement by media company.

Disney tops April’s Media Distributor Gauge, claiming 11.5% of time spent watching TV.

The Media Distributor Gauge gives you a cross-platform view of total TV consumption across broadcast, cable and streaming, aggregated and ranked by media company. The new insight removes the siloes of traditional television versus streaming, and puts all content distributors on a level playing field to allow for additional perspective of TV viewing today. This new view is being released in addition to The Gauge™ report for April 2024, which is detailed below. 

Nielsen calculates the total minutes viewed on the TV screen for each network’s services and aggregates those totals based on initial distributor mapping, ultimately arriving at a share of total TV usage for each parent company. The minimum reporting threshold for a parent company in The Media Distributor Gauge is a 1.0% share of TV. Similar to the fluctuation of monthly TV usage tracked in The Gauge, rankings within the media company view will also demonstrate shifts that correlate with the seasonality of TV viewing. 

In the first report of The Media Distributor Gauge, 14 media companies achieved a 1.0% or greater share of total TV usage. As the top performer in April, Disney accounted for 11.5% of TV viewing, with 42% of its share attributable to viewing on Disney+ and Hulu. YouTube was the No. 2 overall company with a 9.6% share of TV in April, followed by NBCUniversal at 8.9%, Paramount at 8.8%, and Warner Bros. Discovery at 8.1% to round out the top five. Netflix was sixth with 7.6% of TV, and the second-highest streaming distributor reported.

April 2024


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The Gauge™: Nielsen’s monthly snapshot of total TV usage in April 2024

April saw record-breaking viewership: the NCAA women’s basketball tournament coverage on broadcast and cable, and Amazon Prime Video’s new original series Fallout, which set a new high watermark for the streamer as its most successful program to date. From an overall usage perspective, time spent watching TV was fairly flat both month-over-month (down 2%) and on an annual basis (down 0.6%). 

Across the primary viewing categories:

  • Cable was the only category in The Gauge to escape decline as it achieved a second consecutive monthly increase in share, moving up from 28.3% of TV in March to 29.1% (+0.8 pt.) in April. Cable sports viewing increased 28% vs. March, bolstered by NCAA basketball tournament coverage, NBA playoffs and the NFL draft. Women’s NCAA basketball finals and semifinals coverage accounted for four of the top six cable telecasts in April, and the WNBA draft notched 17th. While cable viewing increased about 1% on a monthly basis, a year-over-year comparison shows viewing has declined 8.2% vs. April 2023, and its share has lost 2.4 points.
  • Broadcast viewing was down 3% in April, which equated to a 22.2% share of TV (-0.3 pt.). Similar to cable, women’s sports were the bright spot in the broadcast category this month. The NCAA women’s basketball championship game drew 17.6 million viewers on ABC (plus over 1 million more tuned in on ESPN), making it the top broadcast telecast in April by a large margin. The drama genre accounted for 29% of broadcast viewing, driven by Tracker, NCIS and Young Sheldon on CBS, and Chicago Fire and Chicago Med on NBC.
  • Streaming viewership declined 1.9% from March to April, prompting the category to lose just 0.1 share point to account for 38.4% of total television. Amazon Prime Video saw the largest increase among streaming services this month with a 12% monthly increase for 3.2% of TV (+0.4 pt.). Prime Video’s April success was driven by its original series Fallout, which also topped all streaming titles this month with over 7 billion viewing minutes. YouTube, despite a 3% monthly decline in viewing, added a 15th month to its streak as the top streaming platform in The Gauge with a 9.6% share of TV in April.





The growing influence of women’s sports

Beyond March Madness, TV’s February-to-March changes in 2024 are almost identical to the transition we saw last year, reflecting seasonality in viewing as a result of annual changes in weather, vacations, holidays etc. However, we can see evidence of larger transformations affecting the industry as we look deeper into the data.

Following seasonal trends similar to the past few years, broadcast viewing fell 6% in March to finish with a 22.5% share of television. To add some perspective, when Nielsen released the first edition of the GaugeTM in May 2021, the broadcast category accounted for 25% of television viewing, and despite the continued declines, the category has been fairly resilient, with a less sharp drop than some might have expected.  

Comparatively, streaming viewing declined just 1% versus last month but gained 0.8 share points to finish with 38.5% of television viewing in March. No category has seen a more dramatic shift than streaming on an annual basis, as it’s gained 12% versus a year ago and added 4.4 share points. Some of that shift has come from FAST channel providers (PlutoTV, The Roku Channel and TubiTV), with a considerable portion of the titles being fueled by cable network content. 

So while the cable category may be shrinking in terms of its share of television, cable content remains powerful with consumers. In addition to March Madness, the State of The Union address on March 7, which drew 32.2 million viewers in total (14.1 million on cable alone), reminds us that cable remains a news-driven category as six of the top 10 cable telecasts this month were related to the event. As we look toward November, cable will play a significant role in how audiences connect with news media ahead of the 2024 U.S. elections.



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Few areas of the media landscape have taken the spotlight over the last year like streaming video has, fueled by increasing consumption and a wealth of new platform and content options. In June 2021, for example, streaming accounted for 27% of total TV time in the U.S., much of which is attributable to the fact that 77% of U.S. homes now have at least one connected device.

Given the growth in consumption and accompanying advertising opportunities, it’s not surprising that 60% of U.S. advertisers say they plan to shift ad dollars from linear TV to either connected TV (CTV) or over-the-top (OTT) this year. But given the breadth of the CTV universe, identifying ad opportunities isn’t always clear, and neither are many of the terms and acronyms that marketers and industry participants use, such as programmatic, CTV, OTT and advanced TV.

This glossary aggregates many of the terms and acronyms used to provide clarity amid a quickly evolving and important space in the broader media industry.


Ad Sequencing

Ad serving method where a set of ads are shown in a predefined order i.e. creative B is shown after a user has been exposed to creative A.

Advanced TV

All non-traditional TV. It’s the umbrella term encompassing over the top, connected TV and addressable TV.


Ad-supported video-on-demand.

Behavioral Data

Data that represents buying and media consumption actions and habits.

Connected TV

TVs that have access to an internet connection and can stream video content. This can include smart TVs or standard TVs with a connected device (Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, etc.)

Global Frequency Capping

Ad serving feature that ensures a user is only exposed to a certain number of ads within an allotted time period.

Home Screen Ads

Static ads that sit on the home screen. They’re typically a short video or image and can feature a call to action like ‘learn more’. 

In-stream Video Ads

15- to 30-second long ads that play before or during the program. They are a clever and cost- effective way to reuse your existing television ads for connected TV.

Incremental Reach

Unique audiences exposed to your ads, beyond those you are reaching via other screens or mediums.

Interactive Pre-Roll Ads

The same as in-stream video ads, except they allow the viewer to click through to a landing page. For example, if you’re advertising a movie, this type of ad could bring the viewer to a page where they could book a ticket. 


An acronym for Multiple Video Programming Distributor. These companies are content providers that deliver broadcast and cable programming to audiences through traditional means, such as cable boxes and satellite subscriptions. Examples include Comcast, Dish and Cox.

Over-the-Top (OTT)

Streaming services like Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube TV and Disney+ that can be streamed on any internet-connected device without a cable or satellite subscription. 

Private Marketplaces (PMPs)

Customizable, invitation-only marketplaces where premium publishers make their inventory available to buyers. 

Programmatic TV

Technology-automated and data-driven method of buying and delivering ads on linear TV.


Streaming refers to the delivery of audio and video content to a device (phone, tablet, computer, TV) through an internet connection. Streaming content can be delivered wirelessly as well as through a wired connection.


Utilize advanced techniques to prevent targeting someone who already bought a product or service.


Subscription video-on-demand.


An acronym for Virtual Multiple Video Programming Distributor. These companies are content providers that deliver aggregated live and on-demand video content through an internet connection. Examples include Sling TV, Hulu Live TV, YouTube TV, DirecTV Now and fuboTV.

Contact us if you would like a PDF of the Glossary.

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