Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Netflix + YouTube = Half Your Broadband Diet

poltergeistThere are lots of people who want to stream Web video to your house. But odds are that if you’re watching a Web video during prime-time hours, it’s coming from one of two places: Netflix or YouTube.

So said Sandvine, the broadband service company. Sandvine said that Netflix and Google’s video site now account for more than half of America’s “downstream” traffic delivered over “fixed networks” — the kind you get at home or at work — during peak hours.

That comes from Sandvine’s latest traffic report, and it shows the same trend we’ve been seeing for a while: Netflix accounts for about a third of peak Web traffic in the U.S., and YouTube is coming up on 20 percent.

Sandvine’s report also said that Hulu and Amazon, despite big efforts to catch up to Netflix in video delivery, are coming up short. At least if you’re counting bits.

Here’s what Sandvine’s most recent downstream totals look like:

Sandvine 2h 2013

And here’s where they were back in May 2013:

Sandvine fixed access 2013

It is possible that Hulu, or Amazon, or any of the providers that lag far behind Netflix, are much more efficient at delivering Web video signals, and that somehow Sandvine’s numbers drastically underrepresent their real usage numbers.

Could be! On the other hand, these numbers have been pretty consistent for awhile.

If you’re looking for an interesting wrinkle in Sandvine’s numbers, check out their report on traffic delivered over mobile networks — which doesn’t include traffic to your Android, iPhone, whatever, when you’re on Wi-Fi — and what it said about YouTube traffic and Facebook traffic.

Here are the most recent numbers:

sandvine mobile access 2h 2013

And here’s what they looked liked back in the spring:

Sandvine mobile access 2012

It’s sort of interesting to see Facebook shoot up so much in the last few months — perhaps the company’s newest updates are data-hungry?

Similarly, it’s surprising to see YouTube’s share shrink, given its own mobile boom.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik