Watching Netflix is the biggest use of global net traffic

netflix everywhere on world map, biggest use of data globally in 2018

It has 68 million customers around the world, so you would naturally think that streaming Netflix’s TV shows & movies eats up a lot of our data… but according to bandwidth specialist Sandvine, it actually accounts for more than any other platform.

Watching video – whether it be a binge-watching session of Stranger Things or a YouTube video of a Grandma talking to Alexa – accounts for over half of net traffic says Sandvine in its recent study, the ‘Global Internet Phenomena Report’.

Top of this list is streaming service Netflix, which Sandvine state consumers most of the world’s data (at 15% of global net traffic), followed by other similar services such as embedded video (13.1%), YouTube (11.4%) and web browsing (7.8%).

Not too long ago, Netflix switched streaming to encoding in H.264 High Profile and VP9 (profile 0) to react to increasing processor capabilities of decoding streams online.

In total, all video accounts for 58% of the total volume of downstream internet traffic, followed by web browsing (17%), gaming (7.8%) and social media (5.1%).

The report states that gaming and file-sharing are becoming increasingly data-hungry, especially as both playing and purchasing games increasingly takes place online.

Vice-president of marketing at Sandvine, Cam Cullen, says the huge pressure currently on networks is only likely to get worse; “The numbers for video are going to get higher as more and more content goes high definition and users turn more to 4K.”

The company add that in peak times for Netflix-watching, as much as for 40% of all download traffic can be taken up by the service.

Different regions show content preference

Interestingly, Sandvine found there was also different audience preferences for who was their online entertainment service of choice depending on geographical location.

In Europe, the biggest data use was YouTube, followed by Netflix, embedded video and Amazon Prime, whilst across the pond in the US, Amazon Prime tops YouTube.

In Asia Pacific, embedded video was the most used, followed by Facebook and Netflix.

The data examined for Sandvine’s report was compiled from over 150 different service providers around the global, accounting for 2.1 billion subscribers in total.