Chart of the Day: Netflix Now Leads Internet Traffic

It would seem that Netflix is an unstoppable force. Last month, we learned that the company's subscriber base had surpassed that of cable giant Comcast. Today, we learn that the firm's streaming endeavors have made it the Internet's biggest traffic source in North America.

Here's a chart from a new study published by Sandvine Inc.:

Netflix Internet King.png

As hard as it might be to believe, Sandvine says that Netflix now beats out BitTorrent. YouTube isn't even close. 

In a sense, this shouldn't actually be shocking. There aren't that many other web sites that streams high quality video. And those that do exist, like YouTube and Hulu, do not stream videos as long as the films that Netflix is generally used for.

Moreover, as mentioned, Netflix has a huge subscriber base. It is also being used more and more to stream on televisions through consumer electronic devices like Blu-ray players and gaming consoles. So it has become convenient for those to use who don't want to watch a movie on their computer screen.

At this point, Netflix should really begin lobbying hard to prevent usage-based Internet charges. With the amount of bandwidth that their films take to stream, the average Netflix-streaming user would almost certainly see an uptick in their monthly Internet service charge if their bill was based on usage instead of a flat rate. Such measures have already begun to be implemented in the mobile space, but if they become common for fixed access in-home Internet, then Netflix's streaming growth could reverse.

Presented by

Daniel Indiviglio was an associate editor at The Atlantic from 2009 through 2011. He is now the Washington, D.C.-based columnist for Reuters Breakingviews. He is also a 2011 Robert Novak Journalism Fellow through the Phillips Foundation. More

Indiviglio has also written for Forbes. Prior to becoming a journalist, he spent several years working as an investment banker and a consultant.

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