Netflix gobbles a third of peak Internet traffic in North America

Sandvine also reports that total Internet data usage across wired connections has more than doubled over the last year.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

Netflix users are turning into the biggest data hogs in North America, a new report suggests.

The report from Sandvine, a company that sells Internet traffic-management systems, finds that Netflix use accounts for 33 percent of all downstream traffic in North America during the peak hours between 9 p.m. and 12 a.m. By contrast, Amazon and Hulu only account for 1.8 percent and 1.4 percent of downstream traffic, respectively.

During peak time, 65 percent of all fixed-line data traffic across North America is delivered through audio- or video-streaming services, so Netflix accounts for a little over half of that. All told, average monthly data usage in North America across wired connections has more than doubled from 23GB last year to 51GB this year, according to the report.

Sandvine collects traffic data from over 200 customers all over the world that it says, adequately represent worldwide Internet usage. The data is collected for a period of one month.

Netflix's growth is nothing short of astounding. Just two years ago, Netflix streaming accounted for 20 percent of all downstream traffic during peak time. In May 2011, that figure jumped to 30 percent.

Sandvine expects Netflix to continue to dominate the Web's traffic, saying it will generate "two times the bandwidth of YouTube and 10 times that of competing services" by 2015. In addition, Sandvine predicts that the 2014 World Cup will become the most streamed event in Internet history.

Netflix's continued growth comes as the company faces a likely fight with activist investor Carl Icahn. After Icahn bought just under 10 percent of the company's shares last week, Netflix's board approved a shareholder rights plan that will make it prohibitively expensive for any investor, including Icahn, to acquire a large chunk of shares. The move is commonly known as a poison pill, and is designed to fend off activist investors looking to take over a company.