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More Americans opt for streaming services, ditch cable and satellite

Analysts say more and more Americans are ditching traditional TV for streaming services, spelling a threat to cable and satellite providers. (JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images)

Trends in television viewing habits show that Americans are increasingly streaming shows and ditching traditional cable and satellite. Experts point to convenience and price as the reasons for a continued decline in cable and satellite TV subscriptions. The habits of younger viewers in particular indicate this disruption of the industry could be far from over.

What are the details?

A study by Pew Research Center shows that while older Americans still overwhelmingly opt for cable, 61 percent of viewers ages 18-29 say that streaming services are the primary way they watch television. WCCO-TV reported that researchers expect nearly 8 million Americans to cut the cord and quit cable this year alone — and analysts are sounding the alarm to pay-TV providers.

Macalester College professor Michael Griffin told WCCO that a big part of what's driving consumers to streaming is the widespread use of smartphones.

"Everybody's on their phone already for other reasons," he said, "Everybody's on the digital platform already, so it just makes sense that they want to access their TV watching on the same platform."

A survey conducted by CNBC in March shows that 57 percent of Americans utilize some form of streaming service like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime. CNBC reported that the rapid adoption of streaming services by consumers caused the value of Netflix to nearly double over the past year, going from $63 billion to $124 billion.

But the shift from cable to streaming has not been unexpected. In 2017, a report from media analyst firm MoffettNathanson said, "For the better part of fifteen years, pundits have predicted that cord-cutting was the future. Well, the future is now."

Business Insider pointed to a report by UBS analysts that cites potential reasons why more and more consumers are dropping cable. The UBS note said that "price increases on traditional services could be causing more people to cancel" and that perhaps some early adopters of streaming who had kept their cable for a time were now cutting the cord.

According to CNBC, 51 percent of streamers have Netflix, 33 percent use Amazon Prime Video, and 14 percent subscribe to Hulu. A recent study released by online-streaming guide Reelgood listed Hulu as the best value among services due to its price and the volume of "quality" shows offered.

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