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Streaming makes up only 26% of time spent in front of TV


Detail of a man’s hand scrolling through Netflix on an Apple iPad Pro, taken on March 6, 2020.

Phil Barker | Future Publishing | Getty Images

The majority of Americans are still spending their screen time watching network and cable television, but streaming is gaining steam, according to new data from research firm Nielsen.

Nielsen, known for measuring television usage in the United States, said Thursday that 64% of time spent on televisions was on network and cable TV, while 26% of time was spent on streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu. Another 8%, categorized as “Other,” includes video-on-demand, streaming from cable set-top boxes, and other TV uses, such as gaming and watching DVDs.

Still, streaming share is rapidly increasing. About 20% of time was spent on streaming last year, according to The New York Times. That could reach 33% by the end of the year, the report added.

Nielsen did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Streaming companies have continued to gain dominance as consumers shift away from traditional pay TV, with many looking for entertainment alternatives during the pandemic. Nearly 7 million American households likely dropped their traditional pay-TV service in 2020, a record high. Meantime, the average American already pays for four video streaming services, according to a Deloitte survey from April.

Netflix and Google-owned YouTube have managed to break out as the winners of the streaming wars so far, according to the data, with both holding 6% of total streaming time. Disney‘s Hulu followed, with 3% of the time, while Amazon Prime Video captured 2% and Disney+ posted 1%.

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