Traditional TV viewing drops below 50% in the US for the first time

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With the popularity of resurgent shows like Suits on Netflix and Peacock, the percentage of Americans who actually watch broadcast TV has dropped to under 50% for the first time in history.

According to Nielsen data compiled by the Wall Street Journal, traditional TV has been taking a drubbing from its streaming competition more than ever, with streaming viewership reaching an all-time high in July.

Nielsen numbers from July show cable TV attracted 29.6% of the viewers in this country, compared to 20% for watchers of broadcast TV — your non-cable channels.

However, streaming scooped up 38.7% of Americans’ viewing time; 11.6% entertained themselves with DVD playback and gaming.

The data also shows people are “cutting the cord” more than ever, with around a quarter of cable subscribers switching over to streaming permanently for all their entertainment needs over the last decade.

And while networks are pilfering their own potential audiences for original programming on sister streaming destinations, it’s the older shows that are getting the eyeballs.

Suits, for example, became a streaming phenomenon in July, years after the USA Network show’s finale in 2019.

The legal drama that costarred Meghan Markle until she left in 2018 to marry Prince Harry dropped on Netflix in June, and 18 billion minutes’ worth were watched in July.

All that said, the streaming services have taken note of their popularity: The average cost of watching a major ad-free streaming service is rising up by nearly 25% in about a year, according to the publication.

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