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Netflix Adoption Leads to Decline in TV Viewing, Finds Report

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TV viewing is down, and the subscription video-on-demand leader Netflix is a big reason why.

According to the media research firm MoffettNathanson, U.S. viewers watched 3 percent less TV in 2015, and Netflix alone accounted for half of that decline. To calculate that, MoffettNathanson estimated how much streaming the SVOD's domestic audience did last year and compared that to Nielsen's viewing totals.

In 2014, Netflix viewing represented 4.4 percent of American's total TV viewing, and in 2015 it represented 6 percent. That figure will grow to 14 percent in 2020.

“Currently, Netflix is a source of industry pain, but not necessarily a cause of industry death,” writes Michael Nathanson.

While TV viewing overall shows a decline, that's not true for all networks. Time Warner, Scripps, AMC Networks, and Discovery Networks showed increases in 2015, while A+E Networks, Viacom, NBCUniversal, and Disney all showed drops. Curiously, Disney viewing was higher in homes that subscribed to Netflix than those that didn't.

Variety reports that Netflix's continued impact on TV viewing will likely cause some networks to refuse it content licenses. Jeff Bewkes, Time Warner's CEO, has said his company might pull back on SVOD licensing.

MoffettNathanson will host a conference call for its customers on the topic "Is Netflix Killing TV and Other Important Questions" on March 10. 

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