Cable, Broadcast TV Viewing Falls Below 50% For First Time As Streaming Gains Steam





More and more audiences are rejecting the traditional model of watching appointment television and opting to view content on their own terms, and cable and broadcast TV has hit a big inflection point that illustrates the change.

Cable and broadcast TV accounted for 49.6% of total viewing in July, the first time that combined stat made up less than half of total viewing, according to a study by Nielsen. Instead, streaming continues to make big gains, with YouTube and Netflix the big winners there. It accounted for 38.7% of viewing, up a percentage point from the previous month and a new record high. My colleague Luke Bouma listed out the top 10 streaming services here.

The stats underscore the continuing shifting trend with viewers who are less willing to sit down for broadcast television. It’s a dynamic that exploded during the pandemic, when people stayed indoor and had to balance work and personal lives, but has continued on even as things have returned to a relative norm. Likewise, the idea of paying for cable is something people are starting to reconsider as the cost of, well, everything, has grown tremendously.

That milestone may not last forever, however. Nielsen noted that the upcoming NFL season, where most of the viewing is done on live broadcast, will likely shift the cable and broadcast numbers back up. It’s noteworthy that YouTube TV will offer NFL’s Sunday Ticket package, taking over from DirecTV for the first time in decades.

The surge in streaming has turned older USA Network show Suits into a monster hit on Netflix and Peacock, amassing 18 billion minutes. Australian kids cartoon Bluey was a standout for Disney+ with 23 billion viewing minutes.

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