Netflix loses few viewers to the Olympics

Netflix's CEO predicted the service might experience a drop in streaming because of interest in the Olympics, but that hasn't really proved to be the case, contrary to an earlier report.

Correction, August 3 at 2:18 p.m. PT: This story was corrected and updated throughout after CNET learned that the study it was based on from Procera was not an accurate reflection of all Netflix traffic.

The streaming of the Olympic Games may be popular among viewers, but it doesn't appear to be hurting Netflix traffic.

It turns out that an earlier report from Procera that said Netflix streaming dropped 25 percent in the U.S. on Sunday did not reflect all traffic to the Netflix site.

Procera explained its data in this statement:

The data was taken from specific network operators that have deployed our solutions. The data is not a worldwide, or even U.S.-wide statistic, but specific to our customer deployments. The data that we used for this is not information that we can share (our customers will not allow us to provide the data). The data was aggregated across a numb[er] of our customers that saw a dip in traffic on Sunday in Netflix, and a rise in Olympics streaming. We have a mix of large and small customers, cable and DSL, so some networks are more sensitive to video streaming than others.

Furthermore, a representative from Procera has added that Sunday's figures were a blip and "the streaming levels are back to normal." Sunday was the day that streaming of the London Olympics by TV networks reached a peak as high as 34 percent of all bandwidth. The rate of streaming also jumped by more than 100 percent over the previous two days.

In the U.K., streaming on the BBC iPlayer surged 100 percent over typical Sunday levels, with the Games grabbing half of all traffic, according to Procera.

Netflix, for its part, says that traffic during the Olympics has remained pretty much normal. "It has dipped very occasionally," a representative said, adding that what Netflix is seeing is consistent with a report from network-monitoring firm Sandvine. Sandvine actually saw a slight increase in Netflix traffic levels last weekend, but based on reports predicted that the Olympics would have little to no impact on Netflix traffic.

Still, Netflix was prepared for a drop in traffic. During the company's second-quarter earnings call last week, CEO Reed Hastings cautioned that interest in the Games could eat into the number of viewers and even keep new customers from signing up.

But Hastings added that Netflix isn't concerned about the overall effect on subscriber rates, according to Venture Beat. The CEO believes that people immersed in the live streaming of the Games will watch Netflix during off-hours or simply catch up on their viewing after the Games end.

Still, the company admitted last week that it might not reach its goal of adding 7 million U.S. subscribers this year. Netflix is also still caught in the never-ending battle between streaming and physical disc rentals. Over the second quarter, the company added 530,000 streaming subscriptions in the U.S. but lost 850,000 subscribers from its DVD rental service.

 

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