For the first time ever, streaming services such as Netflix, YouTube and Hulu surpassed cable TV in U.S. television consumption last month. According to a monthly Nielsen report called “The Gauge”, streaming accounted for 34.8 percent of total TV screen time in July 2022, while cable and broadcast (i.e. traditional linear TV) accounted for 34.4 and 21.6 percent of total viewing time, respectively. According to Nielsen's measurements, Americans spent nearly 191 billion minutes per week streaming in July, with each of the five weeks measured among the six largest weeks ever in terms of streaming volume.
Breaking down the streaming total by individual service showed Netflix still in the lead, with its share of total TV consumption climbing to 8 percent thanks in large part to the release of two supersized Stranger Things episodes on July 1. Despite market leader Netflix actually losing subscribers in each of the past two quarters, the future looks bright for streaming services, especially when looking at the age gap in TV consumption. "Streaming is working everywhere," Netflix co-founder, chairman and co-CEO Reed Hastings said in the company's latest earnings call. "Everyone is pouring in. It's definitely the end of linear TV over the next 5, 10 years."
While the end of linear TV is still a way off, streaming overtaking cable for the first time marks yet another milestone in the seemingly inevitable transition to all on-demand video consumption. Whether that transition will be completed in 5, 10 or 20 years is hard to tell, but the writing is on the wall for linear TV and technological progress has rarely looked.