As measured by the byte, the Internet is increasingly a video-consumption medium dominated by a small number of large providers. Wired reports that "In the evenings, Netflix accounts for more than 40 percent of U.S. bandwidth usage, by some measurements", more than the cumulative amount of web browsing traffic.
So far as traffic is concerned, the Internet is becoming (as Tim Wu has warned us it might) a medium for commercial broadcast transmission of studio-produced products.
Netflix's success is starting to sideline peer-to-peer traffic in movies, just as iTunes sidelined peer-to-peer traffic in music. To quote from the Wired article again: “I think Netflix, iTunes and Direct Download all play a role in the diminishing P2P traffic volumes,” [Arbor Networks chief scientist Craig] Labovitz said. Direct download refers to sites such as Rapid Upload and MegaVideo that many have turned to, to share files with friends and the world, without the need for peer-to-peer software.
I’m struggling to see how Netflix’s real-time entertainment success equates to a previously prophesied dystopia.
I wonder what the real volume numbers are year to year rather than comparing the percentage of the total. Maybe we are finally seeing the Internet connected living room emerge. I’d like to see the breakdown between browser viewing and TV connected devices.
Its interesting that Netflix was so successful getting their app/player on so many devices. I expected the likes of Apple, Microsoft, and Sony to put up barriers to entry yet it turned out that the studios and other content providers are the ones playing a zero sum game.
Netflix, leveraging Amazon’s Cloud and CDNs, dominates the streaming market while Google fails to make YouTube useful in the living room. Who knew. That is not “the sound of inevitability” that Agent Smith warned us about.
I am surprised by Netflix’s success as well. Obviously their selection south of the border is a lot better than here – if everyone played their selection continuously here I think they’d run out before a week was up.
Google has stumbled a few times lately (Payments, Buzz, even AppEngine) but I’m surprised Apple and others haven’t done better. The Internet connected living is emerging. I think the tablets and phones are complementing TV watching as well (see here).
I’m not really claiming dystopia, just observing that as the Internet becomes more mainstream it also becomes more like the mainstream. But you’ve probably known that for ages.