Netflix Streaming Now the Largest Source of North American Internet Traffic

Netflix has made it clear that it sees its future in streaming videos not DVDs and that’s having a massive impact on Internet traffic. According to Sandvine‘ latest Global Internet Phenomena Report, Netflix now comprises almost 30% of peak downstream traffic in North America.

But beyond the evening, primetime hours, Netflix has become the largest source of Internet traffic overall – some 22.2% of traffic.

That figure is up from 20% of peak downstream traffic just last fall, due in part to increased popularity of video streaming but also perhaps to the launch of Netflix in Canada. Despite having only been available for six month, Netflix already boasts 800,000 registered users in the country and the traffic has quickly risen there to account for 13.5% of downstream traffic during prime-time evening hours.

Sandvine cites Netflix CEO Reed Hastings saying that the company will eventually move into “all the markets where people have broadband and like TV”, a sign perhaps that the impact on global Internet traffic has really just begun.

As it stands the rest of the world has different network consumption habits, although real-time entertainment does dominate in Latin America and Europe too, comprising 27.5% and 33.2% of overall traffic in those areas respectively. Close behind remains P2P file sharing, an indication that even with the availability of services like Netflix that there’s still plenty of BitTorrenting going on. As Sandvine notes, “despite the emergence of an ‘on-demand’ mentality, P2P has maintained a consistent share of Internet traffic.”

While P2P has received much attention for alleged illegal filesharing, even the legal real-time entertainment services may start to come under scrutiny now – but for bandwidth rather than legal reasons. But as some ISPs look to cap broadband usage, Netflix and others are pushing back.

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