The volume of Netflix's streaming-video traffic over wireline broadband networks in North America climbed 30% over the past six months, although the company's share of overall usage has leveled off at approximately 33% of all peak-hour downstream bandwidth, according to a new study.
That means that in North America, Netflix -- which continues to be the largest single source of traffic on fixed-access networks -- drives about one-third of capacity infrastructure costs for cable and telco providers, according to the report from bandwidth-management equipment vendor Sandvine.
Factoring in aggregate upstream and downstream traffic, Netflix represents 24.4% of total volume, ahead of BitTorrent at 14.2%. On downstream usage during primetime hours, Netflix accounts for 32.9% of traffic, which is up only slightly from 32.7% in September 2011, Sandvine said.
"The explosive growth seems to be over" for Netflix in terms of bandwidth consumption, Sandvine said in the "Global Internet Phenomena Report 1H2012" report. The vendor expects Netflix's peak share to decline slightly to 32.5% in the second half of 2012, as other video-streaming services pick up steam.
"Going forward, Netflix faces increased competition from the likes of YouTube (the second-largest source of peak downstream traffic, at 13.8%), Hulu, HBO Go, Amazon Prime, and traditional TV networks streaming their content to game consoles and other devices," Sandvine said in the "Global Internet Phenomena Report 1H2012" report.
In the first quarter of 2012, Netflix added 1.7 million streaming-only video subscribers in the U.S. The company's shares fell Tuesday after Netflix said domestic net adds in the second quarter of 2012 would slow down because of quarterly "seasonality." Netflix expects to add 200,000 to 800,000 net streaming subs in the U.S. in the current quarter, and add a net 7 million for the full-year 2012 (the same as in 2010).
Meanwhile, according to Sandvine, YouTube is the largest single source of mobile video traffic in every region worldwide, accounting for as much as 25% of network data and no less than 12%.
In North America, YouTube accounts for 23.4% of daily traffic on mobile networks, followed by Pandora Radio at 6.4%. Netflix represents 2.1% of mobile data in the region, making it the eight-largest source of traffic. Sandvine predicts that real-time entertainment traffic will top 60% of mobile data in the U.S. by late 2014.
The "Global Internet Phenomena Report 1H2012 " report is based on data from a subset of Sandvine's 200-plus customers spanning North America, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Caribbean and Latin America and Asia-Pacific. The report is available at www.sandvine.com/news/global_broadband_trends.asp.