You're Not the Only One Hooked on Netflix

If you think you might be watching a bit too much Netflix lately, you're probably right. According to a new report by bandwidth-management company Sandvine, Netflix continues to dominate prime-time Internet traffic into homes here in North America.

Netflix alone accounted for more than 37 percent of that downstream traffic in September and October 2015, says Sandvine. That's double the volume of its closest competitor, YouTube. But the report also shows that some Netflix competitors—namely Amazon, Hulu, and YouTube—also saw their share of traffic increase, as entertainment viewing continues to play a more prominent role in overall Internet activity.

In fact, the report states that real-time entertainment—both audio and video streaming—has grown dramatically, now representing 70 percent of peak-time evening traffic on fixed networks, meaning the wired broadband you get from your cable or telco service provider. That's double what it was just five years ago, and far more significant than the volume devoted to Web browsing (7 percent), download purchasing from sites such as Google Play and iTunes (6.79 percent), social networking (5.15 percent), and gaming (4.01 percent).

Mobile Mavens
But when it comes to mobile devices, Netflix isn't the dominant player. In fact, streaming movies or TV shows from Netflix accounts for just 3 percent of mobile broadband traffic.

Instead, YouTube and Facebook rule the roost, accounting for more than 19 and 16 percent of mobile broadband traffic, respectively. One reason, we presume, is that the shorter videos these sites favor are a better match for viewing on smartphones and tablets.

Although real-time entertainment accounts for only 41 percent of peak mobile downstream bytes, it's still the largest individual category, ahead of social networking (22 percent) and Web browsing (almost 14 percent).

With streaming entertainment on the rise, it's no surprise that streaming media players continue to be a popular choice with consumers. A just-released study from market research firm Parks Associates says that 14 percent of U.S. broadband households intend to purchase a player by the middle of 2016. And, as of the third quarter of this year, 31 percent of households already own one, up from 27 percent at the start of the year.

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