Video Streaming Continues to Grow

ISPs all know firsthand that the use of video streaming grew significantly during the pandemic. Nielsen tracks video usage better than anybody else in the industry, and they report that 26% of all the time spent watching content is now done through streaming. Streaming has surpassed broadcast TV (watching TV from through-the-air reception).

The latest breakdown of the way that people receive content is as follows:

  • Cable TV – 39%
  • Streaming – 26%
  • Broadcast – 25%
  • Other – 9%

The 9% other category represents gaming, streaming through a cable settop box, and watching DVDs. It’s worth recalling that watching gaming is done online and is one of the fastest-growing segments of video consumption.

These percentages show perhaps better than any other way how far traditional cable TV has dropped in importance to households. A decade ago, households spent nearly double the time as today watching cable TV.

Nielsen has also quantified the time spent watching various streaming services. Following is the percent of total video time watching spend with the various streaming services:

  • Netflix – 6%
  • YouTube – 6%
  • Hulu – 3%
  • Amazon Prime – 2%
  • Disney – 1%
  • All other streaming services – 8%

These statistics show the market power of the largest streaming services. It’s almost mindboggling to think that Netflix and YouTube have grown to each represent 6% of all of the time spent nationally watching video.

While these latest statistics show how large streaming video has grown, it also provides a warning of how much it can still grow. As cord-cutting continues, the percentage of hours using broadband to watch video will continue to grow. It wouldn’t be surprising if a decade from now we see a doubling in the percentage of time spent streaming.

This is a caution to network engineers that the crazy growth in average household broadband usage is going to continue to grow as more and more video is consumed online. OpenVault recently reported that the average US home now uses 563 gigabytes of broadband per month – and that number is going to continue to climb significantly just from increased video consumption online. Add to that the gigantic usage coming from people working and schooling remotely and the new phenomenon of video conference calling, and it’s not hard to imagine average home broadband usage doubling again in just a few short years.

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