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Netflix strikes again: Streaming services now as popular as cable TV

Published Nov 30th, 2015 7:20PM EST
Cable TV Vs Streaming

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The ongoing fight for the collective viewing attention of consumers is absolutely fascinating to watch; not only are we in the midst of a highly competitive battle being waged by influential media giants, the outcome of the battle itself remains excitingly unpredictable. Sure, we know that streaming services from the likes of Netflix and HBO continue to grow in popularity, but a number of questions about what the media landscape will look like in even two years remains open to debate.

For instance, what can cable providers do to attract new customers and, just as important, keep existing ones? Will Apple’s rumored TV subscription service prove successful? Can Netflix continue churning out an endless stream of compelling and original content? Can Hulu, or perhaps Amazon, steal away a significant number customers from Netflix?

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Clearly, the next few years will help crystallize the debate, but in the meantime, we can always rely on recently compiled data to help better inform our current understanding of the media landscape. Case in point: earlier this month, an interesting survey from Clearleap revealed that the penetration of streaming services is now about “on par” with traditional cable TV.

Based on a survey of over 1,000 U.S. consumers, the survey found that 78.5% of respondents had cable subscriptions while 71.37% of respondents said that they used at least one streaming video service. Of course, breaking down the survey by age, respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 were more likely to have a streaming service (70.32%) than a cable subscription (64.41%). This statistic, however, shouldn’t be all that surprising. After all, a recent study found that fewer and fewer young adults are opting to sign up for cable in the first place. In other words, while cable providers obsess over keeping existing subscribers, they might want to also focus their energies on getting new users into the fold.

All that said, it’s still far too soon to be writing off cable altogether just yet. To this point, the survey found that only 3.36% of surveyed users indicated that “they would cancel their subscription because they had signed up for a streaming service.” Which is to say, a good number of viewers (who likely skew older) may still view streaming services as a supplementary add-on.

As far as which streaming services are the most popular with viewers, the survey found that 83% of respondents used Netflix, followed by Amazon at 38%, Hulu at 22% and HBO Now at 7%.

With respect to the devices viewers choose to satiate their streaming needs, most respondents said they use a laptop (58%) compared to 39% who said they use their smartphones. Pulling up the rear in this regard were the typical list of devices, from smart TVs, tablets, desktops, and set-top boxes from the likes of Apple and Amazon.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.