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How Netflix Eats the Internet 303

Posted by timothy
from the my-what-big-eyes-you-have dept.
pacopico writes "Every night, Netflix accounts for about one-third of the downstream Internet traffic in North America, dwarfing all of its major rivals combined. Bloomberg Businessweek has a story detailing the computer science behind the streaming site. It digs into Netflix's heavy use of AWS and its open-source tools like Chaos Kong and Asgard, which the Obama administration apparently used during the campaign. Story seems to suggest that the TV networks will have an awful time mimicking what Netflix has done."
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How Netflix Eats the Internet

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  • Re:Is Netflix (Score:5, Insightful)

    by h4rr4r (612664) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @02:26PM (#43677665)

    No, they pay their ISP bills like everyone else.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @02:28PM (#43677687)

    I feel that way about cable.
    Too much content I don't want, advertising, and shows are played via some schedule instead of streamed when I want. Sure there are workarounds like DVRs, but that is just a bandaid on a huge gaping wound.

  • by MitchDev (2526834) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @02:35PM (#43677761)

    They'll use their bought and paid for congress critters to get Netflix legislated to death and use their industry connections to get even more content taken away from Netflix to keep them under control...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 09, 2013 @02:35PM (#43677765)

    Comparing TV networks to Netflix is like comparing an ancient Spartan soldier to a modern, fully armed, US Marine.

  • Re:Is Netflix (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @02:35PM (#43677767) Journal

    Basically taking advantage of an infrastructure it doesn't pay for?

    If anything(given that buildout is expensive, and keeping a run of either copper or fiber maintained and backhoe-free isn't free), Netflix is, in addition to paying its bandwidth bills just like everybody else, providing the rather valuable service of giving millions of customers a reason to buy more bandwidth.

    Given the steady advances in cramming bits over lines, even shitty legacy copper, the more bandwidth your customers want to buy, the more bandwidth you get to sell per fixed-cost(rights of way, keeping the lights on at HQ, dudes in bucket trucks, etc.)

  • Re:Is Netflix (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sconeu (64226) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @02:35PM (#43677769) Homepage Journal

    And we are paying for that downstream bandwidth. Netflix, I'm sure, pays an insane amount to their ISP for the bandwidth they use.

    You are using the same logic that AT&T used when they wanted their "google tax".

  • Re:Is Netflix (Score:5, Insightful)

    by magic maverick (2615475) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @02:38PM (#43677805) Homepage Journal

    So they should raise their prices then?! Or maybe put down some more pipes?
    If an ISP has a problem with its customers using bandwidth, they really have three options:
    1) Raise prices per/MB; 2) Get more bandwidth; 3) Get rid of customers who use a lot of bandwidth. It seems that many ISPs want to do only 1 and 3, where the logical thing is to do 2 (because bandwidth usage will only increase in the future, and and ISP that can provide it, will have an edge of those that can't).

  • Re:Is Netflix (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lightknight (213164) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @02:43PM (#43677877) Homepage

    It helps if you upgrade your equipment, rather than look for the world's greatest ROI on 10 Mb hubs...

  • Re:You know... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @02:50PM (#43677951) Journal

    I would be more than happy to be able to actually download movies from Netflix during non peak times to watch at some other time. This would allow spreading out the bandwidth over the course of a day instead of everyone streaming at peak times such as 7PM EST,CST,PST

    Streaming services will continue to degrade our bandwidth unless we are given the ability to download movies\shows during off hours to watch later.

    But that would disrupt the hilarious consensual hallucination among the 'content' people that 'streaming' isn't actually just a form of 'downloading' where you don't bother to write things to the disk! We can't have that!

    It is absolutely necessary that 'streaming' and 'downloading' be fundamentally different, because, um, 'broadcasting' and 'selling VHS tapes' were fundamentally different! That's why! Also, if your video decoder was sold as a 'computer' and connects to an LCD panel that the salesman called a 'monitor', that's entirely different than if your video decoder is called a 'set top box' and is connected to an LCD panel called a 'TV'. Because, because, something.

  • Re:Is Netflix (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hedwards (940851) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @02:51PM (#43677957)

    Precisely, commercial bandwidth is one of the few areas where capitalism seems to be working. The price has come down substantially over the last decade. If they can't afford to provide what Netflix needs, then they should raise the rates and build out the infrastructure.

    Problem solved.

  • by SJHillman (1966756) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @02:52PM (#43677967)

    YouTube - You watch a short, low quality video, then spend a little time browsing for another video.
    Netflix - You are continuously streaming high quality video for anywhere from 20 minutes (30 min TV show) to 2+ hours (movies).

    YouTube might have more users at any given time, but it's completely plausible that Netflix utterly crushes it in terms of how much bandwidth is used. Given that Hulu, which is probably Netflix's single largest competitor, posted around 1/5 the revenues for 2012, it's a drop in the bucket compared to Netflix... and Netflix is more friendly to people that want to continuously watch episodes/movies due to a lack of commercial breaks.

  • by SilentStaid (1474575) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @02:58PM (#43678051)
    You underestimate the power of Netflix and the demand that customers have for it. Networks will adapt, or die. Sure, they might adapt in a way we don't like (I.E. putting out their own slightly worse version where they can still sell advert space like Hulu) but video streaming, on demand, is here to stay.

    "You can't stop the signal." ~ Mr. Universe.
  • Re:Is Netflix (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday May 09, 2013 @03:00PM (#43678073) Homepage

    I agree. To create an analogous situation with something other than Internet service, imagine Microsoft started going around to every business running Windows/Exchange, saying, "Hey, we deserve some of your profits. You're using our products to make money, and it's totally unfair that we don't get a cut." That'd be ridiculous,right? Microsoft offered a product, and you bought it according to their terms. If you think they deserve a percentage simply because you use their product to make money, then where does it end? Why can't 3M come after you for a percentage because you use post-its.

    Even in talking about Internet service, why aren't ISPs going after every company with a website? I work for a company with a website, and we get business through the internet. We use our Internet connection to conduct our business. Should our ISP be able to come after us for a percentage of profits, just because we make money by using out Internet connection?

    No. We pay for out internet connection. We pay for our hosting. Our customers pay for their internet connections. That's all the ISPs can lay claim to: the charges for providing Internet service.

    Really, the only difference with Netflix is they end up being a competitor to ISPs who also provide Cable service. Well boo-fricking-hoo.

  • Re:Is Netflix (Score:5, Insightful)

    by clarkn0va (807617) <apt.get@gmFREEBSDail.com minus bsd> on Thursday May 09, 2013 @03:20PM (#43678275) Homepage

    I run a small hobby ISP and I can have effectively as much bandwidth as I'm willing to pay for, or rather, as much as my customers are willing to pay for.

    As a somebody selling internet access, I love Netflix and any other online service that give my potential customers a chance to blow through the incumbent telco's artificially low transfer caps (I don't put caps on my service). I can't think of another business where the typical vendor prefers that his customer use less of the product he sells. It makes no sense to me.

  • Re:Is Netflix (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TWiTfan (2887093) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @03:43PM (#43678521)

    imagine Microsoft started going around to every business running Windows/Exchange, saying, "Hey, we deserve some of your profits. You're using our products to make money, and it's totally unfair that we don't get a cut."

    You don't have to imagine it. Apple does it with iOS every day. You want to put your software on a iPad or iPhone, or make any money off of said app--Apple wants their 30% cut (or hit the road, Jack).

  • Re:Is Netflix (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 09, 2013 @03:44PM (#43678527)

    Your comment got me thinking, and I came up with one. Insurance. ISP's want to be like insurance companies, collecting money for a service they don't want you to actually use. Unfortunately, they're not providing a service that their customers would rather not have to use.

    I think it's high time to classify ISP's as a utility and be done with it.

  • Golden Corral (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tepples (727027) <{tepples} {at} {gmail.com}> on Thursday May 09, 2013 @03:52PM (#43678605) Homepage Journal

    I can't think of another business where the typical vendor prefers that his customer use less of the product he sells.

    Golden Corral and other buffet restaurants.

  • Re:Double entendre (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Thursday May 09, 2013 @04:49PM (#43679255) Homepage Journal
    I wish I could convince the two foot guy that scrollbars are a good thing and everybody hates having to slowly slide the stupid lists across the screen.

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