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Streaming takeover complete as Netflix and co. beat cable TV for first time

It may surprise you to hear this wasn’t already the case, but a new study shows streaming content is now overtaking traditional TV viewing methods.

According to Nielsen, the authority on ratings and viewing habits in the United States, streaming services got top billing in households last month.

In July, streamed content on Netflix, Hulu, YouTube TV and more, amassed over a third of all viewing (34.8%), beating cable (34.4%) and broadcast (21.6%).

While it’s only one month, this is the first time streaming has beaten cable since Nielsen began taking records and it did so by racking up an average of 190.9 billion hours per week during July. Streaming usage went up 3.2% compared with June and 6.5% in the year to date. Some of the numbers are quite eye watering, and Netflix topped the pile with 8% of all amassed viewing overall.

Streaming over tv
Image credit: Nielsen

“In July, Prime Video, Hulu, Netflix and YouTube reached new heights again. Netflix gained 8% share, boosted by the nearly 18 billion minutes of Stranger Things that viewers watched, complemented by the nearly 11 billion minutes of combined viewing of Virgin River and The Umbrella Academy,” Nielsen writes in the report.

“Movies The Gray Man and The Sea Beast contributed over 5 billion minutes. Hulu’s record share was helped by the new season of Only Murders in the Building and The Bear, which combined for 3 billion minutes viewed. Amazon’s Prime Video’s 3.0 share was driven by the new series The Terminal List and new episodes of The Boys, which netted over 8 billion viewing minutes.”

Nielsen also attributes streaming’s momentum to a summer where there hasn’t been much in the way of top live sports on cable and broadcast TV, as well as a “slowdown of new content on traditional television.”

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