Netflix Traffic Plummets Due To Olympics, Down 25 Percent During Games


The Huffington Post     First Posted: 08/02/12 09:23 AM ET Updated: 08/02/12 12:40 PM ET

It looks like the already well-decorated Michael Phelps can claim yet another Olympics victory. The event?

Destroying Netflix's Traffic.

According to a fresh report from Procera Networks, Netflix streaming has been down 25 percent since the beginning of the London Olympics, as NBC has made most of the events available online (with, uh, varying success rates). As GigaOM points out, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings had predicted in his recent letter to shareholders that his company would suffer from lower-than-normal watching levels during the Olympics and that Netflix would have difficulty signing up new subscribers while all of that free Olympic content was available online.

If Procera's study is correct, Hastings was spot-on. No matter how you judge the actual quality of NBC's online Olympiad coverage, it is hard to deny that the content is, indeed, online and readily accessible; and it appears that Netflix Instant subscribers have been spending more time over the past week with Ryan Lochte and Rafalca than they have with Don Draper and Walter White.

Elsewhere in Procera's studies -- which have thus far covered online viewing in the U.S., Canada, and the United Kingdom, from Friday through Sunday -- the analytics firm finds that bandwidth usage is up over 100 percent on some networks, thanks to the increased popularity of streaming events online. In the United Kingdom, Procera found that streamers were 10 times more likely to watch on an iOS device than an Android, thanks in part to the surging popularity of the market-dominant iPad and NBC's iPad-optimized Olympics app. Interestingly, Procera's studies show that the iPhone 4, and not the iPhone 4S, is the most popular smartphone for streaming Olympic content, using up twice as much bandwidth as the iPhone 4S and three times as much bandwidth as Samsung's Galaxy S II.

The use of social networks Facebook and Twitter were also up 25 percent over the weekend, said Porcera, though it is unclear whether the Olympics is solely responsible for this huge spike. (Perhaps Chick-Fil-A also deserves some of the credit, too).

Finally, in what must be somewhat of a blow to those complaining loudly with the #nbcfail hashtag on Twitter, only two percent of U.S. households with Broadband used their Internet connections to watch the Olympics online on Friday and Saturday, per Porcera. Many Twitter users have complained about the low-quality streams on NBC's website and tape delayed broadcasts on the network, arguing that NBC's coverage has failed to adequately keep up with the Internet and age of social media; that just two percent of Broadband users are watching online suggests that the #nbcfail movement represents a relatively small (but vocal!) minority.

You can read more of Porcera's findings here and here.