Netflix is Now Largest Single Source of Downstream Internet Traffic in North America
According to a report by Sandvine, Netflix is now the largest single source of peak downstream Internet traffic in North America and accounts for 29.7% of peak downstream traffic, rising 8.7% from last fall. By comparing Netflix to other applications, one can see how entrenched the streaming service is in the lives of North Americans: Netflix accounts for more downstream traffic than HTTP websites (18.36%), YouTube (11.04%) and BitTorrent (10.37%).
Video files are so large that it doesn’t take much for the simple act of streaming them to top downstream traffic; as we pointed out in a previous article, it only takes a standard four-person family each streaming their own HD content on Netflix 15 or so hours to hit a bandwidth cap of 150 GB, which as any avid Netflix user will note, isn’t exactly that many hours spent watching Netflix.
Interestingly, but not too surprisingly, BitTorrent accounts for over half of all peak upstream traffic at 52.01%, while downstream leader Netflix only accounts for 3.59%. “Real-time entertainment,” which most likely accounts for all video and music streaming, makes up 49.2% of all downstream traffic as of March, 2011. Compared to P2P file-sharing (18.8%) and web browsing (16.6%), entertainment streaming makes up almost half of downstream Internet traffic as a whole, as can be seen in the chart below.