Digital video surges as Americans watch less live TV

A new study finds that Americans are turning away from live television events. What does that mean for the future of television?

Helen Sloan/HBO/AP/File
This file image released by HBO shows Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister in a scene from "Game of Thrones." Americans are increasingly turning to digital media to watch TV and movies via Netflix, Hulu, Amazon streaming and other services, according to a Nielsen report released Wednesday, Dec. 3. CBS and HBO have announced standalone streaming services as well.

Americans are turning away from live TV on the tube and tuning in to streaming services, a Nielsen report says.

That's bad news for cable and satellite TV providers. Americans are increasingly watching TV shows and movies on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon streaming and other services. CBS and HBO have announced standalone streaming services as well.

About 45 percent of Americans stream television shows at least once a month, according to research firm eMarketer. That number is expected to increase to 53 percent or 175 million people by 2018, it says.

According to the Nielsen report, which came out Wednesday, the average daily time spent watching live TV fell 12 minutes in the third quarter to four hours and 32 minutes. That means it dropped nearly 4 percent to 141 hours per month.

Meanwhile, time spent watching streaming services jumped 60 percent to nearly 11 hours each month.

That's still a small amount compared with live TV, but it is growing quickly.

"Content is still king, but consumers are shaping their own content-discovery experience, and the evolving media landscape has not lessened consumer demand for quality, professionally produced content," Dounia Turrill, senior vice president of insights at Nielsen, said in a statement. "What has changed is the number and reliability of new media available to viewers."

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