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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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  • by slashmydots (2189826) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @01:36PM (#43677777)
    I just heard another news story that said it's 3% of all internet traffic in the US at night. That's a pretty big discrepancy. Given all other services like youtube and Hulu and all peer to peer, I seriously doubt it's 1/3. It probably is 3%.
  • Re:Is Netflix (Score:5, Interesting)

    by _KiTA_ (241027) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @01:36PM (#43677783) Homepage

    ISPs only have so much capacity to sell though.

    And Netflix is buying what ISPs are selling. And more importantly, Netflix's customers are buying their connections.

    I hear this every so often since I used to work at an ISP. Basically the ISPs are longing for the days where they could sell a grandma a 10 meg connection for $100 a month and watch her use 100kb of bandwidth a day when she checks her email and looks up recipies.

    Granted, we do have a problem with network saturation, where ISPs sell product they do not own, but that's their own fault, not Netflix nor their customers.

  • You know... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 09, 2013 @01:42PM (#43677849)

    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.

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

    by Xipher (868293) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @01:43PM (#43677871)

    Actually Netflix is trying to get past transit ISPs as much as possible via peering [netflix.com]. Provide free peering and caching appliances to ISPs, they get their content closer to the customer, and cut down their transit costs.

  • by edawstwin (242027) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @01:44PM (#43677881)
    $8 is less than the cost of a matinee movie, and that's too much to pay monthly for potentially thousands of hours of video?
  • by superslacker87 (998043) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @01:51PM (#43677955)

    I pay for Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, NHL Center Ice, and per episode subscription for the few TV shows that I consider not worth waiting for to have the season released for "free" to the aforementioned services when they are not available on Hulu. I still save more doing it this way than I would spending money for over 1000 channels I have no desire to pay for or watch.

  • Bad codecs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jensend (71114) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @02:18PM (#43678253)

    If they used modern H.264 and AAC encoders rather than whatever outdated VC.1 and WMA encoders they're using, they could cut that bandwidth use by a third, reducing their costs and improving the customer experience tremendously. Does anybody know why they haven't already done this?

  • by mu51c10rd (187182) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @02:22PM (#43678299)

    You underestimate the power of Netflix and the demand that customers have for it.

    Many do...it was a wakeup call for the cable/satellite operators when Disney signed with them. Disney is one of the kings of content...and they see something more valuable in Netflix than their current (soon to be previous) contract with the Starz cable channel. Netflix charges 8 dollars a month for offering more content than many people who pay 100 dollars a month get from their cable subscription.

  • Re:You know... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mu51c10rd (187182) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @02:24PM (#43678321)

    What you need is .... TiVo for NetFlix!
    Um...you mean PlayLater [playon.tv]?

  • by Anubis IV (1279820) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @02:31PM (#43678411)

    I'll readily grant that Netflix, just like pretty much every other service ever created, is not necessarily for everyone. Particularly if you're into sports or want to watch stuff as it comes out, Netflix is probably not for you. But for those of us who prefer to wait until a show is a few seasons in or entirely completed before we even pick it up, Netflix is the best thing since P2P.

    In contrast to cable plan I cut even before I started with Netflix, I now have:
    1) Orders of magnitude more things to watch right now, and more of it in 1080p.
    2) A subscription that costs 25% of what I used to pay ($8 vs. $30).
    3) An ability to watch video while away from home.
    4) No need to purchase/rent a separate device to timeshift or store content.
    5) The ability to watch shows a season at a time without having to store that content or plan doing so in advance.
    6) Recommendations that are actually really good for stuff I haven't seen yet.
    7) No more commercial breaks or wasting time watching intros/credits on TV series.
    8) No hidden fees, great customer service, and no contract.

    Again, it's not for everyone, and for many people the best it can be is a supplementary service that may allow them to reduce the amount they spend elsewhere or else add some extra content that they couldn't get otherwise, but for many people, it can add a LOT of value over what cable has to offer while still being significantly cheaper.

  • by tepples (727027) <tepples@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Thursday May 09, 2013 @02:39PM (#43678473) Homepage Journal

    Better idea just upgrade the internet connections.

    Say you want to watch 24-minute episodes of a TV series on your 30-minute-each-way bus commute to and from work. To stream on the bus, you'd need an expensive cellular data plan. And it's expensive because there's a limit to how many cellular subscribers can be served at once.

    I don't want to decide what I am going to watch hours in advance.

    You do if you're watching a whole season of a TV series in order.

    I have no interest in leaving some machine on burning power to record a show for later.

    Even if you have no such interest, millions of pirates using BitTorrent have such interest.

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

    by clarkn0va (807617) <apt.get@gAAAmail.com minus threevowels> on Thursday May 09, 2013 @02:47PM (#43678569) Homepage

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

    Completely agree

  • Re:Golden Corral (Score:5, Interesting)

    by clarkn0va (807617) <apt.get@gAAAmail.com minus threevowels> on Thursday May 09, 2013 @02:59PM (#43678679) Homepage

    Maybe, but I've never seen a buffet discourage its customers from eating more food. Sometimes they have a sign asking you not to take more than you can eat, or even promising to bill you extra if you do, but large ISPs don't ask you not to waste their product, they simply discourage it across the board.

    I think the buffet comparison is particularly apt. Whenever my customers ask me about transfer caps, I simply ask that they enjoy the bandwidth and do not waste it. I leave it up to them what constitutes judicious use of the resource.

  • by Endo13 (1000782) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @03:13PM (#43678821)

    Yeah that's pretty much what I was thinking. Live programming is the only thing keeping cable TV alive. Once that becomes available for streaming online, well, cable (and possibly satellite as well) is done.

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

    by hjf (703092) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @03:33PM (#43679035) Homepage

    Yes but ISPs DO go after business with " You're using our products to make money, and it's totally unfair that we don't get a cut" attitude.
    Case in point: "Business plans" for internet service. I don't know about where you live, but I can tell you: the local telco will not provide "residential" $20/mo DSL service to "commercial" phone lines. They instead "offer" the cheapest $50/mo "business plan" that offers less speed (3mbit vs 6mbit) but includes "up to 10 email addresses, 50MB of web space" while residential service offers only 1 mailbox and no web space. You can't opt not to have the useless 50MB space or the 10 mailboxes with 100MB storage (combined).
    There's also no mention of an SLA, and you're stuck with the same 800-number helpdesk when you run into trouble.

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