September 12, 2022

The state of TV music usage across the US

We uncovered which types of music get the most screen time in the US, mapping how production, commercial and other types of music are used in 47 high-rating channels from February to March 2022.

Production music is something to sing home about – we now know for a fact. We previously looked at the different types of music used on TV in 3 major markets, including France, Germany and the UK. We concluded that production music stole the show in all territories.

We’ve built a habit of investigating if and how the trend continues around the world, so when Production Music Association wanted to find out exactly how music is being used on TV in the US we got down to geeky business. With pleasure, we took a sample from our global database and mapped how production music, commercial music and other types such as commissioned music are used in 47 high-rating channels.


• 46% of all music played on broadcast & cable TV is production music.

• Music is used in 39% of the total air time on broadcast & cable TV across the US

• Music used in ads, promos and trailers makes up 20% of the total airing time when music is present.

• Production music is used 6.5x more than commercial music on broadcast & cable TV.

• Out of all identified music types, commercial music only accounts for 7% of total usage.

• The use of production music is highly predominant in lifestyle, reality and sports TV channels.

Download the full report here.

The use of production, commercial and other types of music on TVs across the US

For this report, we took a sample of our data from the US from February 11 – March 14 2022 through Reportal, our music reporting tool for broadcasters. We looked at 47 high-rating TV channels, including CBS, NBC, CNN, ABC, CNBC, FOX and FOX News, as well as ESPN, MSNBC and MTV.

Looking across all 47 channels, we identified music in 39% of the total airing time. The high usage ratio sheds light on the importance of music in TV productions and the value it conveys to both broadcasters and viewers.

We discovered the highest music usage in lifestyle, documentary and reality TV channels like Investigation Discovery (67%), Oxygen True Crime (61%), Food Network (60%), Outdoor Channel (58%), and TruTV (55%).

The trend is reversed for channels mainly broadcasting news and talk shows, where speech takes over most of the on-air time. Among the channels where music was used the least are MSNBC (90%), FOX News (88%), BET (81%), CNBC (80%), and ABC (77%).

Production music is used 6.5x more than commercial music on broadcast & cable TV.

Production music was the leading type of music used on TV and was present 6.5 x more than commercial music in the US. Out of the total on-air time where music was used and identified, we discovered that 46% was production music.

Unclassified music comprises 47% of music usage. This includes, but is not limited to, commissioned music, film & TV scores, catalogues owned by the broadcasters as well as any production music libraries not part of the study.

Commercial music only adds up to 7% in the channels we analysed. 

The use of production music is highly predominant in lifestyle, reality and sports channels, including the Outdoor Channel (75%), Magnolia Network (68%), ESPN (66%), NFL Network (63%) and Food Network (60%).

Commercial music is used less than 10% in most channels. We’ve seen the lowest rates in channels like Destination America (1%), Investigation Discovery (1%), Oxygen True Crime (1%), Magnolia Network (2%), and HGTV (2%).

Music used in ads, promos, trailers and infomercials makes up 20% of the total airing time when music is present. Out of all markets we’ve analyzed, we’ve seen the highest music usage in ads and promos in the US. Data from previous reports showed lower usage in markets like the UK (8%), France (10%) and Germany (15%).

Download the full report here.

To cut a long music data story short, production music usage leads the way on TV across the US. We hope this report sheds light on the relevancy and value production music conveys.

“The findings of this survey validate that production music is the dominant source of music on
broadcast and cable TV, making up almost half of all music usage. We are thrilled to see
these results, which demonstrate the tremendous value and prominence of our community’s
creative contributions. This study firmly establishes our industry as an integral part of the
media landscape, and confirms what we have intuitively known for years. The PMA will
continue to advocate for its publisher and composer members and will continue working to
ensure that our community’s music is valued fairly and accurately.

Morgan McKnight, Executive Director, Production Music Association

“We teamed up with Production Music Association to quantify the airtime production music gets on
US TVs when compared to other types such as commercial and commissioned music. We analyzed
47 high-rating channels, and similar to other territories, the numbers show that production music
stole the show. It was present in 46% of the instances where we detected music. We hope this
information will help the libraries, publishers and associations in their task of promoting the value of this type of music, as it offers limitless creative possibilities to both broadcasters and creators.”

Luis Ruano, VP Rights Admin at BMAT

Please feel free to reuse, host, or share the data from this study with your loved ones and enemies alike. We only kindly ask you to credit or this article.

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