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Average Viewing for Streamed Video and Broadcast Video Now Equal

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The amount of time Americans spend watching streamed video is now within minutes of the average time spent watching broadcast video. After another year of online video gains, content delivery network Limelight reports that Americans stream 8 hours and 33 minutes of video each week, while watching 8 hours and 40 minutes of broadcast TV. The amount of streamed video grew by 10 minutes this year. Additionally, 16% don't watch any broadcast content, up from 12% last year, and only 62% subscribe to a pay TV service, down from 75% last year.

News 2With streaming and broadcast numbers now equal, have we reached a critical moment? According to Limelight, we hit that moment a while ago.

"We are past the inflection point," says Michael Milligan, senior director at Limelight Networks. "Viewers age 18 to 35 are already watching one to three hours more streamed video per week than broadcast video. We saw this trend in last year’s report, and it’s only accelerating. The content available online is becoming more popular than what broadcasters offer. If we consider the awards that Amazon and Netflix garner for their original content and the popularity of series like Game of Thrones, it’s not surprising that viewers are going to where the best content is available. News and sports still bring audiences to traditional TV, but even here, social media and Amazon are successfully bidding on sports rights. Broadcasters are also bringing online video platforms to market, so they clearly see the trends, and want to remain relevant."

Limelight data shows that price is a large factor in people's decisions: 51% say they'll cancel their cable plan if the price rises and 60% say rising prices would be the main reason they would cancel a streaming subscription. But as prices continue to rise, especially for vMVPDs, content providers seem to be out of step with what consumers want. "More than a few industry folks are wondering if we will re-invent what we are trying to move away from—a single service that bundles all the popular content channels," Milligan says.

For more data, download "The State of Online Video 2019" from Limelight for free (no registration required).

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