For the first time in U.S. history, the number of people who get their video content via streaming platforms outpaced the number getting it from traditional sources like cable and satellite.

According to The Drum, this is a big shift in the video entertainment landscape.

The long-anticipated event was documented by measurement specialists Nielsen for The Gauge, a monthly snapshot of viewing habits. In the process streaming has captured its largest share of TV viewing to date, indicating that a pandemic-powered boom is far from over.

Throughout the month streaming accounted for 34.8% of all views, leaving cable and broadcast television looking over its shoulders with shares of 34.4% and 21.6% respectively.

Streaming numbers rose 3.2% in July versus a month earlier, more than enough to eclipse cable, which slumped -2% on the back of a collapse in sports viewing of -15.4% from June and -34% from a year ago when the Summer 2020 Olympics were under way.

The top four platforms for streaming, according to the study, are Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, and YouTube. The share of cable and broadcast viewing has declined while streaming has seen a sharp increase.

The figures confirm the ascendancy of streaming as the top dog in the TV watching fraternity, with both broadcast (-9.8%) and cable (-8.9%) weathering significant declines in viewership on a year-on-year basis. In stark contrast, the volume of people streaming surged 22.6% between July 2021 and July 2022.

Stranger Things Season 3
Stranger Things, via Netflix

The Netflix series Stranger Things has been one of the biggest drivers of streaming's growth among Americans. The availability of on-demand content has led more at-home viewers to "cut the cord" - that is, get rid of their cable or satellite service and switch to online services.

According to the website Zippia, roughly 5 million people have dropped cable or satellite per year since 2019. "In 2019, 4.9 million people canceled their pay-TV subscriptions," the site said. "And in 2020, 5.1 million did the same. It’s estimated that another 5.1 million will cut the cord in 2021 and 4.9 million in 2022."

The site also notes this is a major jump from prior years. "These numbers have grown significantly over the years, with 797,000 cutting the cord in 2016, 1.5 million in 2017, and 2.9 million in 2018," they added.

Increasing internet speeds, more at-home work, and a wide array of streaming options have made streaming platforms the natural successor to cable and broadcast viewing. Some of the platforms offer their own version of live streaming of traditional channels. Hulu's platform not only allows you to have live programming, and because they are owned by Disney, a Hulu membership also gets you access to Disney+ and ESPN+ (the latter of which will offer you access to virtually every Ragin' Cajuns broadcast out there...). Google-owned YouTube also offers a live subscription.

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