Netflix is becoming (slightly) less of a bandwidth hog, but why?

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With Netflix accounting for more than one-third of internet traffic on North American fixed networks, it’s no wonder the streamer is known for being a bandwidth hog. However, a new report from Sandvine indicates that times may be changing. The analysis found that Netflix’s share of internet traffic in the region has declined slightly from six months ago. Meanwhile, its relatively diminutive rival Amazon Video has been on the rise.

For Netflix, the share of traffic decreased from 37.1 percent to 35.2 percent in North America. Amazon Video, on the other hand, climbed from 2 percent to 4.3 percent of fixed traffic compared to last year’s analysis, as reported by Variety. Netflix’s loss wasn’t necessarily a bad sign for the streaming giant, however.

In fact, the change for Netflix may have less to do with its relative popularity, and more to do with its innovative technology. Big Red has been employing new video compression tech, allowing it to do more with less, as it were — without degrading video quality.

It’s also important to note that the Sandvine report looks at shares of bandwidth usage, not actual usage. A drop in percentage may mean gains overall, with some streamer’s experiencing greater growth than others. Netflix is still far and away the leader, topping runner-up YouTube, which accounted for a 17.5 percent share of peak-period downstream bandwidth in North America (up from last year’s 15.6 percent).

Overall, streaming audio and video dominates internet traffic. With Netflix and YouTube accounting for over half of internet traffic during the peak period (7 p.m. to 11 p.m., as defined by Sandvine), streaming in general is responsible for 71 percent of evening traffic in North America, and the share is expected to surpass 80 percent by 2020. That’s a good sign for streaming services in general, but it remains to be seen who will take a bigger slice of the pie in the near future.

Looking at the latest results, at least one thing is clear: Our appetite for audio and video content is basically insatiable.


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