Netflix Bandwidth Usage Climbs to Nearly 37% of Internet Traffic at Peak Hours

Subscription-video leader accounts for more usage than YouTube, Amazon and Hulu combined in North America during primetime, according to Sandvine

Netflix, which already eats up the fattest chunk of downstream bandwidth, is taking an even bigger bite: The No. 1 subscription-video service accounted for 36.5% of all downstream Internet bandwidth during peak periods in North America for March, according to a new report.

Indeed, Netflix boosted its share of downstream bandwidth usage in primetime hours over the last six months, when it was at 34.5%, according to Sandvine, a Canadian bandwidth-management systems vendor. Netflix video continues to consume more bandwidth than YouTube, Amazon and Hulu combined at peak periods, according to the report.

By comparison, for the same time periods, YouTube accounted for 15.6% of downstream Internet traffic, web browsing was 6%, Facebook was 2.7%, Amazon Instant Video was 2.0% and Hulu was 1.9%.

While Amazon Instant Video still holds only a fraction of the bandwidth share Netflix, its share inched up from 1.9% a year ago; however, Amazon held 2.6% share of peak downstream traffic in the fall of 2014 report, a variation Sandvine attributed to seasonality. Dish Network’s Sling TV, a low-cost bundle of cable networks that launched in February, accounted for less than 1% of peak-period downstream traffic.

HBO’s Internet services didn’t break into the top 10 on Sandvine’s report. However, during HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” season five premiere on April 12 the premium cabler’s two streaming properties — HBO Go and the standalone HBO Now — accounted for 4.1% of traffic on one U.S. fixed network, an increase of more than 300% of their average levels. Even so, Netflix represented 33.5% of downstream traffic on the same network, while YouTube was at 15.7%.

Another event caused a bigger spike in bandwidth usage: Activision’s March 31 release of downloadable content pack “Ascendance” for “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare” accounted for 12% of Internet traffic on one North American fixed network on that date, according to Sandvine.

Meanwhile, BitTorrent usage continues to decline as a percentage of total fixed-access bandwidth, and now accounts for only 6.3% of total traffic in North America — down from 31% in 2008. However, overall bandwidth usage has grown over that time, so that doesn’t necessarily mean torrent activity in absolute terms has dropped.

Data for Sandvine’s latest report was collected from a representative cross-section of the company’s 250 service provider customers worldwide.

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