Listen: Can the Internet Handle the Imminent Streaming Explosion?

Streaming Wars
Courtesy of Akamai

Cloud computing company Akamai hit a milestone last month when its content delivery network experienced volumes of data exceeding 100 terabytes per second for the first time ever. What was massive enough to clog the Internet’s pipes? The rollout of the second chapter of Fortnite, the video game world’s reigning sensation.

But gaming-related software is just one bandwidth hog; streaming video is the other. So what does that mean for broadband given the onslaught of new services ready to take on Netflix, including Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max and Peacock?

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“It does beg the question and concern of whether the Internet can handle the growth of all the video traffic that’s coming online, and also the cost,” said Akamai CEO Tom Leighton on the latest episode of the Variety podcast “Strictly Business.”

Leighton illuminates the complexities of working with media companies to transmit their content to consumers as quickly as possible. While Akamai may be seeing record Internet traffic now, he notes that the future of digital transmission has barely begun. “This is the tip of the iceberg. As big as it is now, we’re in the very early days of everything moving online,” he said.

Strictly Business” is Variety’s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of entertainment. Past episodes include conversations with Discovery CEO David Zaslav and Dana Walden, co-head of 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Television Group. A new episode debuts each Wednesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher, and SoundCloud.