Does Netflix Efficiency Eliminate Its Traffic Rate?

    May 18, 2011

Yesterday, it was revealed that Netflix use, specifically, their streaming service, takes up 30 percent of all North American web traffic. In fact, Netflix was the number one service in terms of its North American traffic count, beating out search web services like bittorrent, YouTube and iTunes.

However, is there a mistake in the reporting, or does the efficiency Netflix uses to deliver content actually reduce its web traffic footprint? Forbes blogger Bruce Upin writes:

To clarify, Netflix is small part of overall Internet traffic but a big part of last-mile traffic. Netflix saves money and time and offers higher quality streaming by replicating and caching its content at data centers across the U.S. (and now Canada) to be as close to its customers as possible. That episode of Battlestar Galactica you watched last night did not travel across the entire Internet backbone from Reed Hastings’ office to your living room. It probably only traveled a few miles or so. Netflix tries to minimize its presence on the true Internet backbone.

Which was inspired by TechCrunch’s post. Does the fact that Netflix has successfully turned its use of the web into something similar to their post office drop boxes, reducing the delivery time of these movies reduce its impact on traffic when it’s clear the content is being requested by that many users?

While it may not impact the overall quality of these national networks, the local nodes almost certainly feel a strain once many different users start requesting various kinds of Netflix content. Or am I the only one who experiences moments of picture grain? It’s not quite as bad as a “buffering” screen, but the overall quality does diminish during these moments.