A new report from broadband services company Sandvine, indicates that 70 percent of North American Internet traffic during evening hours comes from streaming entertainment, namely video and audio through sites like Netflix and YouTube. This is nearly double the number that viewers invested in “real-time entertainment,” when it was only at 35 percent.
Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Video are the top three sources when it comes to video traffic, with Netflix having a healthy lead by 37 percent.
This just goes to show that streaming entertainment has become more commonplace with today’s audience. Here are a few examples of just how much it changed in 2015.
Music. Pandora and Spotify are no longer the only primary music services in town. A number of new competitors stepped up this year to grab a piece of the streaming audio pie, and grab it they did. Apple Music was introduced mid-year, providing listeners with not only a variety of artist choices for a small monthly fee, but also exclusive playlist from celebrity musicians, as well as exclusive shows, like this month’s presentation of the 1989 tour featuring Taylor Swift. YouTube also debuted its long-awaited music service, with access to thousands of artists as part of its newly introduced YouTube Red service. Finally, several artists rounded around the new Tidal service, providing not only lossless audio and various music choices, but also its own exclusive events, like Jay-Z concerts. No matter which way music artists wanted to go this year, various choices definitely became available.
Video Games. Although the OnLive service may have bitten the dust, cloud-streaming video games became the norm once again, namely due to the PlayStation Now service. With it, players can select from a number of popular PlayStation 3 games, which can be streamed through various Sony consoles, including the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita, along with various Sony TV models. With the introduction of an affordable subscription model, the service has become quite popular with certain fans, and should expand even further in 2016 with access to more devices, as well as more popular games, such as Bioshock Infinite and the Uncharted series.
Video. More and more “cable cutters” have arisen, mainly due to the introduction of TV-based subscription services that have become quite popular with the viewing public. Sony has its own PlayStation Vue service, which has seen growth across more states in 2015, offering a fair streaming alternative to audiences seeking out their favorite channels. In addition, more premium and network-based channels have begun providing streaming entertainment through specific apps (for a small fee), including Starz, HBO (with HBO Now) and CBS. More of these are likely to appear in 2016, giving viewers alternatives to just simply having a cable connection. This, on top of the thriving popularity of apps like Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, should help see enough of an upswing for digital video to overcome television programming within just a few months.
Original programming. 2015 wasn’t just a year for TV shows and movies to grow, but also original programming, which is drawing in more and more viewers. Netflix, Hulu and Amazon each saw their fair examples of original shows, including big hits like Jessica Jones. However, it was also the year that other popular streaming channels, like YouTube and Twitch, got into the act.
For instance, YouTube introduced a new Red service that provides exclusive programming to those who pay its small monthly fee, including a humorous series revolving around gaming superstar PewDiePie as he gets “scared” by particular pranks, as set up by the show’s co-founder, The Walking Dead‘s Robert Kirkman.
Twitch, a service usually devoted to video game tournaments and personality-laden game streamers, also diversified in 2015 with the introduction of various new promotions and events. It did a number of great things this year, including teaming up with HBO to promote Silicon Valley, expanding its music service to allow access to more little-known artists (thus providing them with great exposure in the process), and even going as far as appealing to artists, with classic episodes of Bob Ross’ painting show being streamed in a marathon which in turn has resulted in a tremendous audience. As a result, more artists are now streaming on Twitch, gaining almost as much popularity as the gamers before them.
Streaming has certainly come a long way in 2015 and it appears that the medium is just getting started.