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For the first time, cable and broadcast makes up less than half of TV viewing

The decline in traditional broadcast and cable television viewership is accelerating. (Photo by demaerre/iStockphoto/Getty Images)

New York (CNN) — The decline in traditional broadcast and cable television viewership is accelerating, falling below a major milestone for the first time.

In July, linear TV made up less than half of all TV viewing, according to Nielsen. Both broadcast and cable “each represented record low shares” of total viewership, the firm’s report said, making up just 49.6% combined. Meanwhile streaming services, such as Netflix and YouTube, grew last month to a record high of 38.7% of all total TV watching.

Broadcast viewership dropped 3.6% in July, making up just 20% of all TV viewership, and cable viewing dropped 2.9%, making up 29.6%. Year-over-year, broadcast viewership slid 5.4% and cable TV dropped 12.5%.

But streaming jumped 25.3% year over year in July, with three services hitting record highs in shares: YouTube, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. YouTube is the most popular streaming option, making up 9.2% of the category, followed by Netflix (8.5%) and Hulu, at 3.6%.

Nielsen notes that acquired TV series rather than original shows produced by streaming services boosted usage. “Suits,” a legal drama starring Meghan Markle that made its Netflix debut last month, and “Bluey” on Disney+, were July’s “most-watched streaming programs, combining for 23 billion viewing minutes,” the firm said.

The report’s findings aren’t surprising, but it is an inflection point for the typical American TV viewer as well as the industry. Entertainment companies are spending billions of dollars bolstering their streaming services to future-proof themselves. CNN is owned by Warner Bros. Discovery, which owns several cable networks and streaming platform Max.

But streaming’s glory days might already be over: The war to win over subscribers at any cost is done and streamers are jacking up prices to shore up profits.

Disney recently announced that it’s hiking Disney+ prices for the second time in less than a year, increasing the monthly cost of its ad-free plan $3 to $13.99 in October. Hulu, which Disney owns a majority stake in, will also increase the monthly cost of its ad-free subscription by $3 to $17.99. That means Disney+ will now cost twice the original price when the service debuted four years ago, and Hulu’s ad-free tier is now more expensive than the most popular Netflix plan.

Max, Paramount+ and Peacock also made similar announcements earlier this year.