Amazon doubles streaming traffic as Netflix competition heats up
James R | On 21, Nov 2014
Amazon has doubled its share of streaming traffic, according to new research, which shows just how heated competition with Netflix is becoming.
Recently, we argued that the coming 12 months could be the turning point in the rivalry beween the two streaming services, as Amazon steps up its content quality and advertising and, crucially, launches hardware such as the Fire TV. Of course, there is no way to tell how much / little its viewership has grown, because they do not release any streaming figures at all. The same is true of Netflix, as the VOD industry remains highly guarded about its data.
Step in Sandvine, whose twice-yearly research gives a handy indicator of what’s going on – albeit in the US, rather than the UK. Its latest report shows that in the past six months, Netflix remains the dominant online video service in North America, accounting for 35 per cent of downstream traffic during peak watching periods (the evening). YouTube is still the closest behind, with 14 per cent of traffic. Both of the sites’ shares are up 1 per cent from six months ago.
Amazon, meanwhile, accounts for 2.6 per cent of downstream traffic. It may not sound like a lot, but the retailer’s share has more than doubled in the past 18 months – compared to HBO Go’s 1 per cent share and the other services’ rate of growth, 2.6 per cent suddenly doesn’t seem like such an insignificant chunk. Indeed, it’s worth noting that Amazon Prime doesn’t have any streaming presence in Canada, unlike Netflix.
That increase is rivalled by another, non-VOD company: Facebook. The social network’s concerted push into the video sector has been much discussed but is clearly having an impact: the introduction of auto-play on their videos within timelines has seen usage jump by an average of 60 per cent on mobile networks and double on fixed networks. As a result, its share has climed to 3 per cent, climbing four places in the downstream traffic chart, from eighth to fourth.
Facebook’s rivalry with YouTube is becoming as pronounced as Amazon’s with Netflix. We don’t have HBO Go in the UK to muddy the water (although we do have NOW), which means that Sandvine’s figures can only give us a rough impression of what the streaming video race is like on these shores. Until the companies release viewing figures, that mystery may never be completely solved. What is clear, though, is that viewer behaviour is changing. Netflix is still by far the most popular kid in VOD school, but competition is heating up – and Amazon is slowly gaining.