In early 2021, Nielsen added in broadband only households (BBO HHs) to their ratings measurement. These are homes that watch linear TV through a streaming device and service like YouTube TV, DirecTV Now, Sling etc. This change had a significant impact on the ratings for most broadcast and cable providers. This is because while the overall universe expanded to include BBO homes, those homes don't watch linear TV the same way as cable and over-the-air (OTA) homes. This resulted in a ratings and share drop for more traditional channels, in some cases a significant decline.
Nielsen estimates 28% of all US TV Households now use broadband connections for their TV viewing. That statistic is from 2022, so that audience has likely grown. The growth of BBO homes has been fueled by live sports programming historically unavailable via streaming apps, or if they were available, they required a pricey subscription model.
To many BBO homes, the experience of viewership isn't much different than cable. DirecTV Now subscribers who watch via streaming use a similar interface to the traditional cable-box with a guide. Youtube TV feels more like a hybrid blend with more on-demand options in addition to live TV.
As the number of BBO homes grows, it appears the backlash to watching live-TV wasn't as much about the "live vs. on-demand" element as it was the steep cost of cable. Free-ad-supported-streaming (FAST) apps like PlutoTV and Tubi are making strong gains too, so it's clear that viewers will accept advertising in their content if it comes with a cost savings.
This all means that there is opportunity for cable channels and broadcast companies to grow BBO viewership specifically and be ahead of the game as more users adopt this method of TV viewing. As our account director Maia Brusseau points out - her dad uses Youtube TV because he travels a lot and can take his local TV stations with him on the road.
So, how do you advertise to BBO viewers specifically? We have a few great strategies for reaching and growing those viewers. Let's chat!