Streaming Video, Audio Dominate Over 70 Percent of North American Internet Traffic

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We all know that streaming services have consumed a sizable portion of Internet traffic in recent years, but a new report from Sandvine is giving us some insight into just how dominant streaming video and audio has become. According to Sandvine, streaming video and audio account for a whopping 70 percent of all fixed-access (i.e. home broadband) Internet traffic in North America.

What’s even more amazing is that streaming services’ share of the pie has more than doubled in the past five years. And out of all of the streaming services available, it should come as no surprise that Netflix is the clear leader of the pack, sucking up 37.1 percent of Internet traffic. YouTube was a distant second with 17.9 percent. And for all the resources that Amazon has put into its video streaming service over the years, it’s far behind its rivals with only a 3.1 percent share.

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Interestingly enough, BitTorrent, which in years past has been a popular way for Internet users to nab [often times illegal] video content, is losing steam in favor of legit streaming services. According to Sandvine, BitTorrent traffic has fallen from 7 percent of all traffic in North American to 5 percent.

“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,” explained Sandvine CEO Dave Caputo.

When we switch gears to mobile traffic streaming video still tops the list; but it’s a different player. YouTube understandably leads the way with a 20.8 percent share. Facebook’s command of mobile traffic also shines through, as it comes in second place with a 16 percent share. Pandora managed to slide past Netflix on mobile with 4.3 percent of North American mobile traffic versus 3.4 percent.

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The rise in mobile streaming traffic has been a boon for wireless providers like Verizon, which relishes customers buying into larger data plans to satisfy their streaming habits. “The more people watch, the bigger the bundles they buy and that’s what we are in business for, so data package should go up, ARPAs should go up,” said Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam in September.

T-Mobile recently countered, however, with its Binge On initiative that doesn’t count the usage of certain streaming services against your monthly data pool at the expense of reducing image quality to 480p levels.