Why TV Networks Are So Desperate To Start Streaming Services

Amy Santiago on Fox's Brooklyn Nine-Nine

There are plenty of ways to get TV nowadays, and not all of them require sitting on the couch at a set hour during primetime. Traditional TV viewing just isn't as convenient as streaming options, and recent numbers indicate that more and more people are straying toward streaming, specifically when it comes to mobielsl . Mobile streaming is on the rise, meaning major TV networks need to jump on the bandwagon or be left behind.

Americans still get the majority of their viewing pleasure via TV, but Nielsen reports that increases in the numbers for mobile viewing are growing by leaps and bounds while the viewership of network television has been dropping. The first quarter of 2016 saw the time spent streaming by the average American on a smartphone rise by a whopping 60%, from 62 to 99 minutes per day. Live TV viewing only dropped by 1%, but there are still big reasons for concern for networks, as that drop will likely only continue. Advancements in technology and digital delivery systems for video mean that growth for streaming services can be exponentially beneficial, whereas decline for networks can be devastating. A 1% drop is significant if nothing is done to boost viewership, so it's understandable why more and more channels are down with developing their own standalone streaming services.

Even more troubling for networks is the fact that the numbers for live viewership mostly come from consumers in the 50+ age range. Those 50 and older spend about 50% of their media consumption in front of the television and only 21% with digital services. The valuable 18-34 demographic tells a different story. The 18-34-year-olds are getting 39% of their media content via smartphones and tablets, with another 15% via devices a la Google Chromecast and Apple TV. Only 29% of that key demo consumption comes from live TV viewing. CBS, a network known for its older audience, was unsurprisingly the first of the broadcast networks to go digital-heavy with CBS All Access.

DVR has always represented a convenient alternative for TV fans to view network shows on their own schedule. Now, streaming is catching up to DVR, as approximately half of American households have subscribed to services like Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Netflix. DVR use hasn't drastically decreased, but it hasn't been increasing either. Now that Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Netflix are all consistently putting out quality original material in addition to offering vast libraries of TV series and movies, networks are being left behind.

Many of those networks are working to put out their own streaming services to stay relevant in the digital age. HBO Now is a surprisingly affordable way for people who don't subscribe to the HBO cable package to watch current shows like Game of Thrones as well as past series and films, and Showtime has provided a similar option to its traditional cable package. CBS All Access has a new Star Trek series in the works to try to attract folks to subscribe, and MTV got creative with the decision to stream a series on Snapchat, which could be a sign of things to come. Most of the major networks already have recent episodes of shows available to watch for a limited time, but they'll all clearly have to step up their game to stop streaming from gaining too much ground on live viewing.

To see some shows you can watch live if you so choose, check out our summer TV premiere schedule. If streaming is more your speed, take a look at our list of 10 great shows to catch on Netflix this summer.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).