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Streaming video viewing will surpass cable TV before the end of this year

Nielsen’s Gauge report that measures viewing shares across video platforms each month, shows the continued shifting in audience from cable television to streaming video. Back in June 2021 cable television accounted for 40.1% of all video viewing, one year later cable’s share had dropped by five points to 35.1%. Conversely, in June 2022, streaming video exceeded one-third (33.7%) of all video viewing for the first time; a sizable increase from the 27.4% share of just one year ago. The viewing share of streaming video has risen every month since March increasing four share points during that time. The shares of broadcast television stood at 22.4% in June, the lowest over the past twelve months.

Before the emergence of streaming video, June had been among the lowest months for TV viewing. The television season had ended with broadcasters airing reruns and lower cost unscripted shows. Cable counter programmed with popular original scripted dramas including The Closer and Monk. Despite lower TV usage levels, June became one of cable television’s strongest months for audience share. With the onset of streaming video that is no longer the case.

A key factor for the decline in cable shares continues to be cord-cutting. Moffatt Nathanson reported another 2.1 million subscribers dropped their cable, satellite, telco or virtual in the first quarter of 2022. The number of U.S. households with a pay-TV subscription has fallen to about 70 million from a high of 100+ million a decade ago. In contrast, Kantar reports in second quarter 2022 that 113 million (88%) U.S. households have video streaming service, a 2% increase from first quarter. Also increasing was the average number of subscriptions per household which totaled five.

With more content and more subscribers, time spent with streaming video continues to grow. Nielsen reports, in June, time spent with streaming video grew year-over-year by 23.5%. Also, defying previous viewing habits, time spent with TV/video in June rose 2% from May. With the 2021-22 television season coming to an end, in June time spent viewing to broadcast TV dropped by 6.7% compared to May, resulting in a loss of two share points. One of the few bright spots on broadcast in June was live sports which recorded an increase of 44% with the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Finals both on ABC.

According to the June Gauge report, NetflixNFLX +1.4%, AmazonAMZN +2.2% Prime Video, Disney+ and YouTube (including YouTube TV) all hit record high audience shares. Despite its recent struggles, Netflix, accounted for a 7.7% share of audience, up nearly one point (6.8%) from May. Moreover, Netflix, in June, saw a monthly increase of 16.3% in minutes viewed from May. The fourth season of Stranger Things was a factor in the share increase. Since the launch of The Gauge Report, Netflix has been the most watched streaming video provider every month.

In addition, month over month, Disney+ had a 14.7% increase in minutes viewed; resulting in a 0.2 share increase. Led by Obi-Wan Kenobi, Disney+ reached an all-time high in audience share of 2.0%. With the third season of The Boys debuting on June 3rd, Amazon Prime Video recorded an 11.1% increase in minutes viewed, a gain in share of 0.3. YouTube recorded a month-over-month increase of 5.2% in minutes viewed and a share increase of 0.2. With the continued increase in streaming shares, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, in a second-quarter earnings report said, “It’s definitely the end of linear TV over the next five to 10 years.”

The lone genre sustaining linear television viewing shares has been sports. In 2021 sports accounted for 95 of the 100 most watched TV programs. Nonetheless, live marquee sporting events are becoming more and more prevalent on streaming video, bolstering the platform’s audience share.

Amazon Prime Video will begin to exclusively stream NFL Thursday Night Football in September. Last year, TNF averaged 15.4 million viewers on FoxFOXA -0.1%, the second most watched program in primetime. In July, the NFL launched the long-awaited NFL+ which will stream all preseason games and all local and nationally televised games on mobile devices for a monthly fee of $4.99. Apple TV+ recently struck a deal with the MLS. to stream every game. Also, Peacock and Apple TV+ began streaming selected MLB games this season. In addition, virtually every other live premiere sporting event is now available on both linear TV and streaming. In an interview with CNBC’s Julia Boorstin, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says, “I believe NFL media rights will be moving to a streaming service.”

Regional Sports Networks have often been cited as the primary if not sole reason for subscribers to maintain a pay-TV subscription, but that could be changing. In early June NESN announced they were launching a standalone streaming service NESN 360 costing $30 each month. Later that month the Sinclair owned Bally Sports launched their own streaming service in five markets at $20 monthly. Other RSNs are looking into their own streaming service.

With media owners focusing more on streaming video than its cable properties, the trend lines are clear, streaming will garner a higher audience share by this coming fall end and will not be looking back. Forbes

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