Netflix bigger than filesharing

19 May 2011

Your Internet Content Factoid of the day: US-based streaming movies provider Netflix now accounts for 22.2% of all downstream Internet traffic in North America. At peak times, it’s around 30%.

That’s according to the latest traffic report from network management and measurement provider Sandvine.

One reason that’s worth passing on – aside from the fact that a single content provider accounts for at least a fifth of internet traffic – is the revelation that Netflix bumped P2P filesharing off the top of the list as the biggest IP traffic generator in North America.

As Ryan Singel of Wired’s Epicenter blog puts it, “That means for the first time perhaps in the internet’s history, the largest percentage of the net’s traffic is content that is paid for.”

Not that P2P filesharing is on the decline. Far from it. But it does mean that streaming video is growing fast. Apart from Netflix, Sandvine saw an increase in other forms of real-time streaming video for the quarter, from college basketball and pro golf to the Royal Wedding.

All up, says Sandvine, “real-time entertainment” apps account for almost half of all peak aggregate traffic in the US (compared to just under 30% in 2009), and that will grow to between 55% and 60% by the end of this year.

In Latin America, meanwhile, real-time entertainment represents 27.5% of peak aggregate traffic. In Europe, it’s 33.2%.

Sandvine’s report doesn’t cover Asia, sadly. But real-time streaming video undoubtedly is seeing similar usage trends in many Asian markets, and will grow over time. Also, Netflix is planning to expand its services outside of North America, with certain Asian markets possibly in its sights (if a recent employment ad seeking customer service reps able to speak Japanese and Korean is anything to go by).

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