Every week, according to Nielsen, 5.8 million adult consumers in Boston watch something on television. But, of course, the definition of what it means to watch TV has changed since the time when the number of available viewing options could be counted on the fingers of a single hand.
Today, Boston consumers have a gargantuan number of viewing choices. This includes programs from stations like WCVB, WHDH, WBZ, WGBH, and WFXT. Or maybe cable and satellite systems like Xfinity, DISH, DirecTV, and RCN. There's also content delivered over the internet from Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, Disney+, and Amazon Prime.
No longer are Boston consumers tied to the 21-inch Zenith in their living rooms. Instead, TV can be watched on giant LCDs, smartphones, and tablets from any room in the house, in the backseat of their cars, or practically anywhere else.
The best way to think about TV watching in Boston is in terms of three buckets:
- Over-the-air...including all broadcast channels
- Cable...including all premium and non-premium programming
- Internet...including all streaming services. This is also known as OTT or CTV
Here's how many Boston adult viewers fall into each bucket. Remember, viewers are not limited to a single bucket.
For local business owners who advertise on Boston television, it is not only essential to know how many consumers inhabit a bucket; it's also essential to know how much time a viewer spends in each bucket. This information is critical for creating effective advertising campaigns.
As of September of 2021, according to Nielsen, 38% of all viewing time is spent in the cable bucket. Internet streaming accounts for 28% of viewing time. Finally, over-the-air viewing only accounts for 26% of time spent watching TV.
It is important to point out that over-the-air did enjoy an increase from 24% in August to 26% in September. Nielsen credits this bump to gains from football games and the start of the fall season of programming on the major over-the-air TV networks, including ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox.
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