Cable Tv Future of TV Media

Streaming accounts for 26% of US TV time


By John Glenday, Reporter

June 21, 2021 | 4 min read

The inexorable rise of streaming services has seen the sector account for 26% of all time spent in front of the TV in the US, according to new figures released by Nielsen.


Streaming ascendancy shatters TV habits to account for 26% of US viewing

The survey highlights the rapid rise to dominance of services such as Netflix and Hulu, although traditional network and cable TV still holds up well, attracting 64% of all TV viewing.

Streaming is still in the ascendancy

  • The standout stat from Nielsen’s figures is the inexorable rise of streaming as services such as Amazon Prime and Disney+, detailing how they eat into the market share of traditional network and cable TV.

  • Now accounting for 26% of all TV watching, the sector has proven it is here to stay – although both cable and broadcast television hold up well with a 64% share.

  • Drilling down further into the figures, it is Netflix and YouTube that have benefited the most from increasingly fickle audiences, with both platforms each accounting for 6% of the total streaming time according to Nielsen.

  • This casts a long shadow over Disney’s Hulu, which languishes on 3%, while Amazon Prime drew 2% and Disney+ recorded a 1% share.

  • By way of comparison, last year streaming accounted for just 20% of all viewing, while by the end of the year analysts forecast that the proportion could hit 33% according to CNBC.

TV viewing fragments

  • An increasingly fragmented picture charts a growing ‘other’ category in addition to the two primary viewing options, with 8% of all viewing hours categorized as VOD and streaming from set-top boxes, as well as gaming and disc-based viewing.

  • This diversification has been fueled by a growing number of viewers shunning traditional pay-TV during the pandemic, with figures suggesting 7 million Americans canceled their subscriptions in 2020 – a record high.

  • The chief beneficiary of this trend has been – you guessed it – streaming, with the average American now signed up to no less than four separate streaming content providers.

The death of TV has been grossly exaggerated

  • Amid all the hoopla and hype surrounding streaming, it is remarkable how resilient traditional over-the-air broadcasts and cable have been.

  • This loyalty stands in sharp contrast to the streaming pretenders, where so-called levels of churn as customers cancel and switch services jumped from 20 to 46% between January and October last year.

  • The fickle nature of streaming viewers stands as a note of caution, illustrating how recent rapid gains can just as quickly unravel.

  • The latest figures bear out a 2019 assessment from Nielsen, which presciently declared that viewers faced a ‘paradox of choice’.

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