Netflix just became cable’s biggest TV network

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Netflix subscribers watched more than one billion hours of video in June, according to the company’s CEO Reed Hastings. That means that U.S. subscribers watched around 80 minutes of Netflix per day last month, which makes the service more popular than any traditional U.S. cable network, estimated BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield.

Hastings revealed the new number in a public Facebook post Tuesday morning, which also had him congratulate the company’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos:

“Congrats to Ted Sarandos, and his amazing content licensing team. Netflix monthly viewing exceeded 1 billion hours for the first time ever in June. When House of Cards and Arrested Development debut, we’ll blow these records away. Keep going, Ted, we need even more!”

Greenfield took it upon himself to do a little back-of-the envelope math based on that number for a blog post Tuesday (registration required), and estimated that 90 percent of that viewing originated in the U.S. He also suggested that Netflix had around 24 million U.S. subscribers in June – we won’t know the exact number until the company releases its quarterly earnings later this month. Based on those numbers, Greenfield estimated that U.S. subscribers watched an average of 80 minutes of Netflix every day last month.

That puts the service right up there with many traditional TV networks, and in fact could make it more popular than all of the U.S. cable networks. We don’t have June viewership numbers of most cable networks yet, but based on earlier trends, he concluded that Netflix was the most viewed cable network last month. Equally impressing: In households that have Netflix, it even beats broadcast networks like ABC and CBS.

Netflix has long positioned itself as not a cable killer but a cable-like network, competing with HBO and Showtime as opposed to TV itself. Regardless of these semantics, the recent numbers show that Netflix is definitely starting to eat into cable networks’ market share.

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