In 2015, more than 36 percent of all Internet bandwidth in North America has come from Netflix streaming, that figure is more than the next eight biggest bandwidth hogs combined. The report comes from Sandvine, a networking equipment company that releases annual bandwidth statistics for all of the Web’s biggest players.
It’s worth noting that this report looks exclusively at downstream traffic on home and office Internet connections (e.g. WiFi). This means it doesn’t account for data being uploaded to cloud services or data used over 4G/LTE. Nonetheless, it’s still an interesting metric. Let’s take a look:
As you can see from the chart, Netflix bandwidth usage has increased by approximately 2 percent YoY from 2013 to 2015. The number two bandwidth hog, YouTube, accounts for 15.56 percent of all usage in 2015, down from 17.11 percent in 2013, but up from 2014 where it accounted for 13.19 percent of usage. What’s worth mentioning is that Facebook bandwidth usage has been increasing since 2013 when it accounted for 1.48 percent to today (2015) where it now accounts for 2.65 percent of all usage. This is interesting because of the speculation that has been going on recently that Facebook is catching up to YouTube in terms of video views. For me, I think this data shows Facebook still has quite a bit of a way to go.
Another point of interest in this chart to me is the rapid decline of BitTorrent traffic. Now, while many BitTorrent use cases are perfectly legitimate, the protocol is also known for allowing people to facilitate file sharing of copyrighted content such as movies, TV shows, and music for free. In fact, in 2009, peer-to-peer file sharing (for which BitTorrent was the most popular protocol) accounted for roughly half of all Internet bandwidth. That’s insane!
But now, if we fast forward to today, it’s 2015 and according to the latest data, BitTorrent usage is almost nowhere to be found in terms of top bandwidth using apps. The file sharing protocol is responsible for a mere 2.76 percent of the bandwidth pie.
Is this such a surprise though? We always knew the best solution to piracy is convenience. Make it easier to buy and watch a movie through paid channels and people will likely take advantage of it. Aside from convenience the next most important thing to do is offer a wide selection of content for purchase. Services like Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, and Apple Music offer large catalogs of content for extremely affordable prices, in many cases under $10/month.
The last point I want to look at is the fact that HTTP, which represents general web browsing, is down nearly 50 percent since last year. It’s likely that the influx and adoption of apps has eaten into the popularity of standard web pages. Increasingly, users are going straight to the service they need through apps, rather than opening Safari or Chrome in order to find the content.