Netflix video streaming is the world’s largest internet bandwidth consumer, taking up around 15 percent of global traffic, according to research by bandwidth management company Sandvine, the BBC reports.
Video streaming in general accounts for more than half (58 percent) of net traffic, the study suggests, followed by web browsing (17 percent), gaming (7.8 percent) and social media (5.1 percent).
Gaming and file sharing are also a significant driver of traffic volumes, according to Sandvine’s Global Internet Phenomena Report.
The pressure on networks around the world is likely to get worse, the company says. “The numbers for video are going to get higher as more and more content goes high definition and users turn more to 4K,” said Cam Cullen, VP of marketing.
During peak hours, Netflix can even account for as much as 40 percent of all download traffic in the US. However, the service’s encoding technology makes it the most efficient video provider on the internet.
File-sharing accounts for almost 22 percent of global upload traffic, rising to 31 percent in Europe and the Middle East.
“If people can’t get the content they want because they have to have multiple subscriptions or if it comes out a day later in their region and they don’t want to see spoilers online, they resort to piracy,” said Cullen.
Gaming is also adding to traffic since people tend to purchase them via download rather than a physical disc, and many stream their gaming on services such as Twitch.
The report also found regional variations in the type of content preferred.
In the Asia-Pacific region, HTTP media streams (embedded video on websites) were most popular, followed by Facebook, with Netflix in third place.
While in Europe, the top spot went to YouTube, followed by Netflix, HTTP media streams and Amazon Prime.
In America, however, Amazon Prime was more popular than YouTube.