Streaming has finally taken the highest share of TV-watching eyeballs, according to Nielsen’s July viewership report—thanks in large part to 18 billion minutes of “Stranger Things” consumption on Netflix during the month.
Streaming TV surpasses cable viewing for the first time, Nielsen reports
For July, American viewers spent 34.8% of their time exclusively on streaming platforms, more than 190 billion minutes. The share is over 3% higher than streaming numbers in June and a 22.6% increase compared to July 2021.
Streamers courting advertisers may lean on the Nielsen numbers to make their case, particularly Netflix, which holds the highest percentage of streaming viewership and plans to launch its ad-supported subscription tier in early 2023.
Similarly, a recent report from Samba TV found that during this year’s second quarter, the three months leading up to July, linear TV consumption had dropped to a record low, with only half of the U.S. population tuning in compared to the 88% that used streaming platforms. That gap grew exponentially among audiences under the age of 35, who watched nearly 25% less linear TV than older demographics.
“With 95% of all linear ad impressions now reaching only half of American television viewers, we have reached a tipping point for television and advertising more broadly,” said Samba TV CEO and co-founder Ashwin Navin in a statement. “This is a wake up call moment for our industry. It has become a business imperative for the advertising market to evolve away from legacy practices that are leading to significant waste and missed opportunities.”
“Looking forward, streaming is working everywhere,” said Reed Hastings, Netflix’s founder and co-CEO, during the streamer’s second-quarter earnings call. “Everyone is pouring in—definitely the end of linear TV over the next five, 10 years.”
In addition to the whopping amount of time audiences spent with “Stranger Things,” Nielsen found Netflix contributed nearly 11 billion minutes of combined viewership for its shows “Virgin River” and “The Umbrella Academy.” Streaming minutes also got a bump from Hulu’s “Only Murders in the Building” and “The Bear,” three billion combined, as well as Amazon Prime Video’s “The Terminal List” and The Boys,” at eight billion combined.
Previously, streaming has surpassed the viewership share of broadcast TV, but July marked the first time it conquered cable TV, due in part to a decline in sports programming such as the Summer Olympics, which began last July. Cable viewership dropped 2% compared to June, and nearly 9% year-over-year.
“There's absolutely evidence that linear TV is going to continue to have difficulties in terms of meeting historically what would have been reached in frequency goals for advertisers,” said Kate Scott-Dawkins, global director of business intelligence at GroupM. “I saw a lot of headlines around Reed Hastings’ comments in the last earnings call and I think we've been echoing that in our conversations with clients to a certain extent that this is the time to look at advertiser goals around TV and where that fits going forward…as it gets blurry in definition alongside YouTube, and what that means for video as a broader way of measuring linear TV content against more digital channels.”