Netflix users watched 2 billion hours of video in last quarter

California based Netflix said today that its subscribers watched more than two billion hours of video in the final quarter of 2011.

With more than 20 million customers, it means the average Netflix customer viewed close to 100 hours of video in the quarter or about one hour per day.

In case you don’t know, Netflix is a subscription video service which offers unlimited streaming for about $8 per month.

The massive number of videos being consumed by Netflix users is having a significant impact on internet traffic in the United States and Canada.

A report issued last October by Sandvine, a Waterloo based research company, estimates that Real-Time Entertainment applications, consisting primarily of video streaming, now accounts for 60% of peak downstream internet traffic in North America.

Sandvine estimates that during peak primetime hours (7pm to 9pm) Netflix users are now the largest consumers of internet bandwidth, accounting for almost one-third (32.7%) of peak aggregate traffic.

In Canada, Netflix defaults users to its 300 Megabyte per hour, For the “average” consumer watching about an hour a day of Standard definition video on Netflix, it means the default streaming rate will incur about 9 GB of internet traffic usage a month.
Subscribers who watch high definition (HD) video consume considerably more bandwidth in a month. High Definition consumes about 2.3 GB per hour which means that 30 hours a month of HD video will consume about 70 GB of data.

The researchers believe the increasing demand for internet capacity by Netflix users during the evening’s peak hours to may ultimately force service providers to consider offering internet service plans that shift usage to off-peak hours.

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