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TV Viewers Keep Cutting The Cord, Opt For Streaming

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Television viewing habits are changing, as a Pew Research poll finds 61 percent of young adults rank online streaming services as the main way they watch TV. However, that same poll found more than half of Americans mainly watch TV by way of cable or satellite, highlighting the gray-area phase of television's disruption.

Professor Michael Griffin has seen a lot of changes in his 20-year career at Macalester. He says the changes happening in TV and streaming are similar to what happened when cable entered the game. The main difference driving this movement: smartphones.

"Everybody's on their phone already for other reasons," Griffin 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."

Users have a lot of options to do so. There are roughly a dozen main streaming competitors, and more than 100 other streaming services varying in access and specialties.

WCCO's parent company created CBS All Access, which lets users watch news 24/7. All Access also has sports, including the NFL, and CBS shows like NCIS, for $6 to $10 per month.

Netflix, one of the first companies to popularize streaming, costs between $8 and $14 per month varying by quality, and HBO Now costs $15 per month.

With so many options, Griffin thinks convenience has room to improve. Users don't have a streamline way to know which service has the show or episode they're looking for.

"Going forward, it very well may be where some companies are offering bundling services," Griffin said. "You get a bundle of streaming services the same way some people got a bundle or tier on your cable package, and you'll be able to pay one fee for three, four, five different streaming services with some schedules of programming, so you know where your shows are and where to find them."

Cost is another factor of why people switch. Experts urge consumers keep an eye on their bill regardless of if it is cable, satellite or streaming. Cable and satellite bills tend to increase after the first year of service, and some streaming companies hike rates on a smaller scale -- adding about $1 to $2 -- which can go unnoticed for people who subscribe to several services.

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