“All is flux, nothing stays still—there is nothing permanent except change.” These words have been attributed to the Greek philosopher Heraclitus.
Everything changes these days, including the way we get news, read books, listen to music, and watch movies.
Sometime in 2012, I found a web article stating that a large part of Internet traffic − about 33% − comes from Netflix (link). Recently, I decided to recheck how Netflix is currently doing and found another web article (published almost exactly 4 years after the first one), which revealed that the percentage had gone up to 37% (link). So, over approximately 4 years, Netflix gained another 4% of the North American Internet, which − in turn – also grew quite substantially over the same period of time. The plot below shows using data from Sandvine how the share of Netflix (and some other streaming services) grew over time since 2010.
Interestingly, streaming video and audio traffic now accounts for over 70% of North American downstream traffic in the peak evening hours (link). Five years ago, it accounted for less than 35%. It’s a huge growth. And the top three winners for the sources of video traffic in North America are Netflix (37.1%), YouTube (17.9%), and Amazon Video (3.1%).
I, myself, being a late adopter in this case, finally downgraded my DirectTV plan to a basic HD plan and subscribed to Netflix about 6 months ago. I wanted to try something different.
Six months later, I am pretty sure that when my current TV contract expires in December 2016, I will “cut the cable” and stay with both my little Roku box and with Netflix (as well as some of the Amazon video content I am getting as a member of Amazon Prime).
It really took me some adjustment to Netflix at first. I felt constrained. My “standard way” of watching TV for years was to flip aimlessly between 10-15 channels I knew of until I found something interesting to watch (and to ignore, but still keep paying for, all the other hundreds of channels).
When I got Netflix, I needed to add two physical digital audio and video switches to my setup. Now, switching between TV broadcast and Netflix required pushing 2 buttons in total. Easy enough, but still requiring a bit of effort on my part. Yet, I was ready to take advantage of the best that both sources were offering.
However, with time, I found fewer and fewer reasons to do even this little amount of work – switching to TV and back − and stayed with Netflix (and Amazon) for longer and longer periods of time until I noticed that I was not watching my paid TV at all.
At the moment this experiment is nearly completed, I have made my conclusions, and am waiting for December to avoid the penalties DirectTV will impose on me for early termination.
By the way, I still buy Blu-ray disks of the movies I really like and want to enjoy watching repeatedly in the highest video and audio quality. But, for the majority of TV content, streaming quality is just fine.
Judging by the stratospheric growth of Netflix and other video and audio streaming services, I am guessing that this will be the preferred way for people to watch movies and listen to music in the future. I was resisting this change for a while, but now my family belongs to this new and growing part of the population: video streamers. And, after the switch has been made, I doubt we will be going back. But I cannot be absolutely sure, since “there is nothing permanent except change”.