Amazon leapfrogs to third biggest video streamer by traffic

All Amazon Video needs to do is octuple its usage to be as big as Netflix in North America.

Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
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Joan E. Solsman
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Amazon's video service has surged in usage in the last year, jumping to third place behind Netflix and YouTube by traffic in North America.

Amazon Video accounted for 4.3 percent of downstream internet traffic during peak evening viewing hours in North America, according to network equipment maker Sandvine in its twice-yearly Global Internet Phenomena Report Wednesday.

That's still far behind the 35.2 percent of traffic that Netflix gobbles up, and the 17.5 percent commanded by YouTube. But Amazon's No. 3 ranking is a leap from eighth place a year ago.

Amazon has been aggressively chasing Netflix as a subscription video competitor. Its Video service, free to those who subscribe to Amazon Prime, has aped the original-content strategy of its bigger rival by releasing critical darlings such as "Transparent." And it has picked up the ball Netflix willingly dropped by hunting high-profile exclusives, such as a deal to stream HBO original shows. In April, Amazon put Netflix directly in its competitive crosshairs by offering standalone Video subscriptions for $8.99 or £5.99 per month for the first time.

While Netflix's lead appeared to falter in the latest report after it notched 37.1 percent of traffic six months ago, Sandvine indicated that the decline was likely because Netflix improved video compression. That means subscribers could continue their binge-watching marathons, but their streams had less of a data burden on networks.

Among Sandvine's other findings: Facebook and Google account for more than 70 percent of mobile traffic in Latin America, a 10-point jump in a year. And communications apps, such as Facebook's WhatsApp, are growing in traffic because of the addition of voice and video calling. In Latin America, WhatsApp's traffic share is 7.4 percent, triple its level two years ago.

This article also appears in Spanish. Read: Amazon ya es la tercera empresa de 'streaming' de video en EE.UU.