Movies are big business, some would say the biggest business. For a while now they’ve been a large part of that interconnected network of computer systems we call the internet, but it seems within the last year they have really broken through.
Data released yesterday by networking company Sandvine reveals that the largest source of internet traffic in the United States is Netflix – the online Movie streaming service. With 22 percent of daily access and a whopping 30 percent of peak-time access, Netflix has firmly established itself as the most used service on the web – outstripping HTTP (the basic internet protocol used for most websites) into third place.
And the amount we’re watching online is even more incredible when you take into account other ‘live’ streaming services online. Sandvine claim that 49.2% of peak online traffic in the US is made up of these ‘real-time entertainment’ services. They predict by the end of this year 55% of our peak traffic will be used access these services.
That’s an incredible amount, when this same study was carried out in 2010 only 29.5% of this traffic was based around online video. And to be fair, you can see why. No-one really wants to watch TV/Movies on a computer and although there were alternatives to watching on your desktop, they weren’t very well advertised.
Fast forward 12 months and we are all very aware of devices such as Apple TV, Google TV, the upgraded TiVo. Both Microsoft and Sony have made deals to get Netflix and other streaming video services on their consoles making it easy to access this entertainment on your HD TV. Add with this the fact that ISP’s seem to be increasing their speeds and data limits and it starts to become a lot more obvious why online video has boomed.
It’s certainly a lot more convenient. When it comes to TV shows, I can now ask BBC iPlayer to download all my favourite shows when they’re ready and I can watch them when I want. It’s starting to make linear TV on the box look a bit, well, dated…
And it is clearly starting to affect TV ratings here in the UK. In fact the opening episode of this years Doctor Who is a great case in point. The episode was shown to a rather disappointing 6.5 million on TV, yet on iPlayer it achieved 1.5 million within 12 days – a new record for iPlayer. I think there will always be a place for linear TV and clearly the internet still has a bit of a way to go to catch up, but its is doing so and at an alarming rate!
I think it’s great how easy it is to now watch movies and TV online in such high quality and it’s certainly great that legal Netflix is using more bandwidth than potentially illegal Bit Torrents. But there’s only so far the ISP’s can go, some are already threatening to throttle the speed of such services in the ongoing Net neutrality debate. As more an more people access this entertainment, our internet (which in the UK with copper cables is already under a lot of stress) will come under a lot more stress and I do wonder if it’ll be able to meet the demand.
If only it really was truly infinite!