The future of entertainment was on full display this week as two key developments highlighted how Americans are amusing themselves.
First, Nielsen reported that, for the first time, we’re watching more streaming TV than cable — a seismic shift in how programming is accessed.
Streaming services represented 34.8% of total TV consumption in July, Nielsen found. That’s up nearly 23% from a year ago.
Cable viewership, meanwhile, represented 34.4% of the audience, while broadcast accounted for 21.6% of TV watchers. In both cases, that’s a roughly 10% decline from a year before.
“Among streaming distributors, Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu and YouTube each captured record-high shares again in July after previously doing so in June,” Nielsen found.
“Netflix represented the largest share of overall TV viewing for a streaming platform with 8%, boosted by the nearly 18 billion viewing minutes of ‘Stranger Things’ alone.”
Meanwhile in Movie Land, Cineworld Group, owner of Regal Cinemas, is preparing to file for bankruptcy, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing “people familiar with the matter.”
Cineworld said this week that despite audiences gradually returning to theaters, box office receipts remain disappointing.
The company is looking to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States and may seek an insolvency proceeding in Britain, the Journal said.
Cineworld’s stock plummeted more than 60% in London on Friday. The British company operates about 9,000 theaters in 10 countries.
U.S. ticket sales are down 30% from 2019 levels, primarily because of the pandemic and fewer must-see movies being released.
It feels like we’ve reached a turning point. Those fat, unpopular cable bundles — they’re rapidly becoming a relic of a simpler, greedier time for pay-TV businesses.
Streaming will dominate home entertainment for the foreseeable future, although it remains to be seen if all this competition will result in cheaper prices for consumers.
This is an industry that tends to compete on everything except price.
Moviegoing probably will bounce back. But the economics don’t work in the industry’s favor. A movie ticket now averages about $9. A large popcorn can run about the same.
This means a family of four can easily spend $45 or more on a trip to the theater.
At that price, it better be a darn good flick.