Netflix Starting To Make Headway Against Pirates

Netflix Starting To Make Headway Against Pirates

It looks like Netflix is starting to beat back piracy networks like BitTorrent in North America, according to a recent study. In fact, the video streaming service provider has gotten so popular that it made up 36% of internet traffic in the U.S. in the first half of this year.

When combined with Facebook and YouTube, the three websites make up a whopping 55% of the total internet traffic in the U.S., according to the latest edition of Sandvine’s Global Internet Phenomena Report. (All graphs in this article are courtesy Barclays.)

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Netflix’s popularity grows

Barclays analyst Paul Vogel weighed in on Sandvine’s report, pointing out a number of themes. For example, he pointed out that Netflix is still growing in North America, apparently stealing market share from BitTorrent and other popular websites where pirated content can be downloaded.


Netflix beats back BitTorrent

This is an important theme to note because often analysts have raised concerns about whether Netflix will be able to prevail against such piracy websites. Netflix was actually the top website in terms of internet traffic in North America.

Vogel pointed out that about 69% of downstream traffic was real-time entertainment sites like Netflix during the first half of the year. General browsing, online shopping and social networking were the next three leading categories, but they lagged far behind real-time entertainment with percentages in the single digits.

One area in which Netflix is having problems with piracy, however, is Latin America. BitTorrent actually held a slightly larger share of the market in terms of total desktop bandwidth. YouTube was on top with 33% of all bandwidth.


Sandvine reported that real-time entertainment was 46% of desktop traffic, while web browsing was 15% and file sharing was 10%.

Mobile internet dynamics slightly different

According to Sandvine, 40% of mobile internet traffic was real-time entertainment, while 22% was social media and 14% was general web browsing. YouTube was the big winner in mobile internet usage, and Facebook’s share fell slightly year over year. Netflix held a measly 4% of mobile internet traffic.

Instagram, Snapchat and Pandora all saw improvements in the first half of the year.


In Latin America, Facebook was on top in mobile internet usage with a 25% share. Most market watchers see Latin America as a mobile first internet economy, according to Vogel. Entertainment was still the dominant category in mobile web traffic at 33%, although social networking is hot on its heels at 30%.

Netflix didn’t even make it into the data for this category, which Vogel explains was probably because it was “below the materiality threshold.” Instagram and WhatsApp both showed some solid gains during the first half of the year.

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