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Digital Media

Amazon, Facebook creep up video ranks, but miles behind Netflix

North American Internet traffic on Amazon's video service has more than doubled and Facebook has leaped to the No. 4 downstream slot. Now they just need over 10 times the volume to catch up to Netflix.

Netflix remains the biggest driver of peak downstream Internet traffic in North America, according to Sandvine's latest report. Netflix

Watch your back, Netflix.

The streaming-video service remains, by far, the biggest source of downstream Internet traffic during peak evening viewing hours in North America. But jostling in the lower ranks are Amazon Instant Video, HBO Go and even Facebook, suggesting changes in where we watch online video and the intensifying competition in Netflix's shadow.

"With both Netflix and Amazon Instant Video gaining bandwidth share in North America during 2014, it will be fascinating to see how a standalone HBO Go streaming option will impact networks when it launches in 2015," Dave Caputo, chief executive of network equipment maker Sandvine, said Thursday in the company's twice-a-year "Global Internet Phenomena Report." Caputo was referring to HBO's plans to open its Internet offering to people who aren't subscribers via cable or satellite.

Over the past six months, Netflix accounted for 35 percent of traffic on fixed-access networks in North America during the busiest watching time of the day -- the evening -- up slightly from 34 percent from the previous six months, according to the report.

YouTube, at No. 2, represented 14 percent of the traffic and also saw a single-percentage-point gain from six months earlier.

Amazon Instant Video, with 2.6 percent of peak downstream traffic, saw its share has more than double in the past 18 months, without operating in Canada like Netflix does. HBO Go accounted for 1 percent of downstream traffic.

The most dramatic rise in the ranks was by a social network and not a typical video provider: Facebook. The company's introduction of automatic video play about a year ago led to an increase in average usage by as much as 60 percent on mobile networks and more 200 percent on fixed networks in the past year, Sandvine said. That moved Facebook into fourth place in downstreams up from eighth, though its share of downstream North American traffic is still just 3 percent.

Netflix's popularity surfaces in places it doesn't even officially operate. Though Netflix only this week unveiled plans to launch next year in Australia and New Zealand, Sandvine noted it as a top-10 application on fixed networks in the Australia-Asia Pacific regions.

"Amazingly, approximately 2.5 percent of subscribers are accessing the service and it comprises as much as 4 percent of peak downstream traffic, and the service isn't yet available in the region," Sandvine said.