Americans now spend less than 50% of their viewing time watching TV.

Americans now spend less than 50% of their viewing time watching TV.

Americans Embrace Streaming Services, Leaving TV in the Dust


New data from Nielsen paints a clear picture of the changing landscape of entertainment consumption in America. For the first time ever, Americans spent less than half of their viewing time watching TV. The rise of streaming services and other platforms has led to a decline in traditional television viewership, signaling a significant shift in the way people consume entertainment.

Over the past decade, linear television and cable companies have been dealing with a steady decline in their audience. July’s data reinforces this trend, with viewers spending only 29.6% of their viewing time on cable, while broadcast TV accounted for 20% of the overall total. Streaming services, on the other hand, were responsible for a considerable 38.7% share of viewership. It’s clear that streaming has become the preferred method of entertainment consumption for many Americans.

Leading streaming platforms like Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, and YouTube are benefiting greatly from this shift. These platforms reached all-time high viewership levels in July, demonstrating their growing popularity. However, it’s important to note that the change in viewing habits doesn’t necessarily mean audiences are solely focused on new shows. Surprisingly, the most-watched show in July was not a recent release like Netflix’s “The Witcher” or Disney+‘s “Secret Invasion.” Instead, it was the long-running series “Suits” that stole the spotlight. This legal drama, which aired from 2011 to 2019, attracted a staggering 18 billion minutes of viewership. It seems that familiarity and comfort play a significant role in viewers’ choices.

Another factor contributing to the surge in streaming services is the ongoing strike by Hollywood writers and actors. With no end in sight, consumers are turning to alternative sources of entertainment. Additionally, Disney, a major player in the entertainment industry, is contemplating selling its linear TV holdings, indicating a waning interest in the traditional TV format.

However, despite the undeniable rise of streaming, TV and cable are not completely out of the game. Nielsen notes that as fall approaches and the NFL kicks off its 2023-2024 season, many viewers are expected to return to traditional TV. Sports programming has proven to be a significant driver of viewership, with last November’s broadcast accounting for a massive 150 billion viewing minutes. In July, though, sports viewing across all channels amounted to just 25 billion viewing minutes, even with the Women’s World Cup taking place. This highlights the importance of live sports in maintaining the relevance of TV and cable in the era of streaming.

In conclusion, Americans’ increasing preference for streaming services is reshaping the entertainment landscape. The decline in traditional TV viewership, paired with the rise of streaming platforms, signifies a major shift in how people consume entertainment. While linear television and cable companies may be facing significant challenges, the allure of live sports continues to drive viewership. The entertainment industry must adapt to these changing habits and find new ways to engage audiences in this rapidly evolving digital age.