For the first time ever, video streaming services were more popular than cable TV in the US last month. According to figures from Nielsen (opens in new tab), streaming had the largest viewing share in July. It has exceeded traditional broadcast TV before, but this is the first time it's been more popular than cable as well.
It comes after streaming services hit a new record number of viewers for four months in a row.
US viewers watched a total of 190.9 billion minutes of streamed content per week in July. That's up from the previous high of 169.9 billion minutes, recorded back at the start of the pandemic lockdown in April 2020.
Streamed content accounted for over a third (34.8 per cent) of all content watched, narrowly beating cable (34.4 per cent) and significantly higher than broadcast (21.6 per cent). Total TV usage remained almost identical to the previous month, as well as the same period last year, which suggests Americans aren't watching more TV, but are streaming more in place of broadcast and cable options.
Despite losing viewers lately, Netflix gained an 8 per cent share, mostly thanks to the 18 billion minutes of the latest season of Stranger Things that viewers watched.
Still, this will be scant reason to celebrate for Reed Hastings' company. It was recently overtaken by Disney Plus – a staggering achievement, given that Disney's streaming service launched less than three years ago. The streaming pie might be getting bigger, but Netflix has some work to do to avoid being left with just crumbs.
In a bid to attract more customers, it will launch a cheaper tier that will be subsidised by adverts. This won't offer the full content library as the pricier tiers, and according to recent rumours, won't allow downloads for offline viewing. Disney is also launching an ad tier, though it will beat Netflix to the punch – its will launch later this year, whereas Netflix's isn't expected until early 2023.
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