Video streaming dominates with 70% of broadband traffic

Steven Loeb · December 7, 2015 · Short URL:

That number more than doubled in just five years, though video still has room for growth on mobile

The rise of video streaming has already been making huge waves across the entertainment industry, with numerous television networks, and even cable companies, moving content online and launching stand-alone streaming services. It feels like we haven't seen a shift like this since the rise of television around 60 years ago.

Streaming is rising fast. Really fast. So fast that it now completely dominates the Internet.

Real-Time Entertainment, which means streaming video and audio services, now account for over 70 percent Internet traffic in North America, according to the Global Internet Phenomena Report: Africa, Middle East, and North America out from Sandvine on Monday.

That is during peak evening hours and on fixed access networks, meaning people watching at home at night after they get home from work. 

The number has more than doubled in just the last five years, when it accounted for less than 35 percent. 

When it comes to which service is most frequently used, it's no contest, as Netflix absolutely dominates the competition with over 37 percent of all downstream traffic. It is followed by YouTube, with just under 18 percent. Together, those two services encompass nearly 55 percent of all traffic.

After them comes Amazon, which places in a distant third with 3.1 percent, and Hulu, with 2.58 percent.

“Streaming Video has grown at such a rapid pace in North America that the leading service in 2015, Netflix, now has a greater share of traffic than all of streaming audio and video did five years ago,” Sandvine CEO Dave Caputo said in a statement.

“With Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Video, and Hulu increasing their share since our last report, it further underscores both the growing role these streaming services play in the lives of subscribers, and the need for service providers to have solutions to help deliver a quality experience when using them.”

The rise of streaming video is great for those services, but maybe not great for others. As Sandvine points out, this has correlated with a drop in BitTorrent share. It now has only five percent of total traffic in North America, down from seven percent at the same time last year.

It should be noted, however, that,"The data collected includes the bandwidth per second per protocol and the number of active hosts per protocol on the network at each hour."

Video is a well-known bandwidth hog, so even if there are five hours of video watched versus five hours of searching Google, for example, video will still dominate. It's not really clear now much time are people spending watching video as compared to the number of hours and they spending doing other things.

VatorNews has reached out to Sandvine for more information and we will update this story if we learn more. 


Video on mobile

Interestingly, despite all the talk about everything being mobile now, video does not have the same dominance when it comes to people on the go. The same category only accounts for 40.89 percent of traffic on mobile devices. Though that is still the largest category, it is much smaller than it is for Web traffic.

The top downstream app is still video; this time it's YouTube, but with only 20.78 percent share. That is followed by social apps, like Facebook, which has just under 16 percent, and Snapchat, which has 4.33 percent, through Facebook did see a year-over-year decline in share, down from 19.1 percent last year

Netflix falls below Pandora and Instagram, which only 3.44 percent of traffic on mobile.

The effect of streaming

report by Gartner from earlier this year found that global mobile data traffic is set to reach 52 million terabytes (TB) in 2015, an increase of 59 percent from 2014. By 2018 they are estimated to reach 173 million TB.

That growth is being driven by video usage. In the U.S. alone, 47 percent of the 45 to 54 year olds surveyed by Gartner streamed 15 minutes or more of mobile video apps over cellular networks per session, while 40 percent of 18 to 24 year olds stream more than 15 minutes.

Mobile video is also showing absolutely no signs of slowing down. Each year until 2020, mobile video traffic will grow by 55 percent per year and will constitute around 60 percent of all mobile data traffic by the end of that period, according to a study from Ericsson in June.

With the share of traffic on both Web and mobile rising, offering access to streaming is qucikly becoming an important part of the business model for many companies.

Last month T-Mobile revealed that it was now offering a new service called Binge On, which will stop video streaming from major streaming services from counting toward customer data plans.

That was followed by an announcement from JetBlue that it has entered into a  partnership with Amazon so that its aircraft will be equipped with free Fly-Fi broadband Internet, allowing Amazon Prime members to access tens of thousands of movies and TV episodes.

In September, Virgin partnered up with Netflix to provide complimentary in-flight WiFi access that allows new and existing Netflix members to enjoy the entire Netflix catalog. That partnership only seems to last through March of next year, though, while the deal between JetBlue and Amazon does not seem to have an end date.

The rise of streaming has also led to numerous standalone services, including ones from HBO, Showtime and CBS, as well as chord-cutting services from both Dish and Comcast.

It's safe to say that video's share of traffic is only going to continue to grow, and it will be fascinating to watch how the rest of the world, and other parts of the Internet, respond.

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