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New Nielsen study on streaming points to more bad news for traditional TV

Watching Netflix
The shift from pay TV to streaming continues as the latest Nielsen Total Audience report for Q2 confirms that the number of homes who only pay for broadband Internet is rising while the number of homes with pay-TV subscriptions is on the decline, reports Broadcast Cable.

According to the data, broadband-only homes are up by 52 percent to 3.3 million from 2.2 million year over year. Meanwhile, pay-TV subscriptions are down 1.2 percent to 100.4 million, from 101.6 million at this time last year. And while 1.2 percent may not seem like much, that million plus decline has caused all sorts of havoc on the stock market, with big media companies like Viacom, Nickelodeon, Disney, and many others seeing tumbling stock prices in recent weeks.

The latest findings echo a study last month from Strategy Analytics which found that pay-TV services reported subscriber losses of 479,000 in the U.S. from April-June of this year, calling it the “highest rate” they’d seen thus far.

Still, while the writing has been on the while for some time, many have said the stock market shifts have been largely unwarranted. As has always been the case with such figures, you can only infer so much from the data, and much is left up to interpretation.

For example, the study also found that subscription video-on-demand rose by 18 percent to 45 percent, and more people have smart TVs in the home, which afford easy access to streaming services (up to 18 percent from 11 percent). Is streaming TV replacing traditional TV? Or is streaming TV influencing people to, in fact, watch more TV altogether? What’s more, with viewership on computers and mobile devices on the rise, there’s a lot of viewing going on that Neilsen’s data may not actually tabulate, or at least accurately incorporate into the data.

Bottom line: people are watching plenty of TV, in plenty of ways. The tide seems to be shifting toward streaming services more and more. How this might impact pay-TV and traditional linear TV in the long run – well, we’ll just have to wait and see. HBO certainly understands, having launched its HBO Now streaming service to capture some of the lost pay-TV revenue. Will others follow suit? Partner up? And how will this impact the bottom line?

Only time will tell. But pay-TV subscribers would probably be best to take a note from HBO’s book and get on that over-the-top (OTT) TV bandwagon before there’s no room left.

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