Streaming Video, Notably Netflix, Dominates Internet Traffic

Streaming video now makes up 70 percent of Internet traffic, says Sandvine, a Canadian networking-equipment company that conducted a global study during September/October 2015. The company monitored a slice of global services for home broadband to take a snapshot of online traffic across North America, Africa and the Middle East and found that real-time entertainment now prevails. Furthermore, in North America, Netflix dominates about 35 percent of aggregate peak-period Internet traffic, up from 22 percent in 2011.

According to Re/code, the current findings are in stark contrast to Sandvine’s snapshot from five years ago, when “video/audio represented 35 percent of prime-time usage.” A few years ago, YouTube and Netflix already accounted for half of home broadband usage, and those services continue to grow.

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Quartz reports that Netflix, at 35 percent usage, is “well ahead of competitors,” including YouTube, which has 16.8 percent of aggregate upstream/downstream traffic, Amazon Video (2.9 percent), iTunes (2.6 percent) and Hulu (2.5 percent).

It’s notable that new entrants — Hulu and Amazon — are also taking a piece of the pie, accounting for nearly 6 percent of usage. Meanwhile, BitTorrent, which comprised 31 percent of total Internet traffic in 2008, is down to 4.4 percent in 2015.

The mobile Internet also shows the dominance of video and audio, which accounts for 41 percent of traffic. But social media — mainly Facebook and Snapchat — also ranks high on the mobile platform, accounting for 22 percent. Amazon reports that it now ranks as “one of the top three sources of video traffic in North America,” up from No. 8 on Sandvine’s 2014 report.

What’s the reason for Netflix’s success? “Netflix’s incredible growth can largely be attributed to a mix of smart business strategy and bold creative decisions,” says Quartz. “The success also comes hand-in-hand with world’s (and especially America’s) increasing appetite for on-demand entertainment.”