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More Record Breaking Streaming and the Latest iPlayer News

July 17th, 2008 at 10:21 by Dave Tomlinson

It’s been a little while since we posted an update about the latest happenings on the network and particular what’s happening with streaming usage. We’ll start as usual with a few of headlines then move on with a bit more detail:

  • Streaming usage is on the increase again. May saw a slight decrease of 4.2% (2.8TB) per day but June was 9.83% up on May (3.1TB)
  • Streaming usage is now 168.9% higher per day than it was 1 year ago (3.1TB compared to 1.1TB). Total traffic is 26.5% higher per day than 1 year ago (37.2TB compared to 47TB).
  • P2P traffic is actually 8.75% lower per day than it was 1 year ago shrinking to 25.93% of total traffic from 35.95% one year ago (13.4TB reduced to 12.2TB).
  • Streaming now accounts for 9.64% of all downloaded traffic in the evening (4pm to midnight) (41.4TB out of 429TB) and 6.57% of all traffic (upload and download across the whole day) (92.7TB out of 1.41PB).
  • The record hour for the highest amount of streaming has been broken 4 times in June.
  • Similarly the highest amount of streaming in a single day has been broken 3 times in June and the highest amount of evening (4pm to midnight) streaming broken twice.

The growth in streaming traffic started to slow down a couple of months ago. After the initial massive burst at the beginning of the year we then saw a small decrease in streaming traffic per day in May. This may well have been down to the bank holidays and people being away as we saw decreases in all types of traffic that month. Total usage for example saw a 3% decrease per day in May compared to April.

Moving on to June and we had an increase per day in every type of traffic against May with total traffic being 5.57% higher in June per day than May and streaming 9.83% higher. The biggest gainer in June was gaming with traffic up 14.44% against May followed by email with 10.38%. Both tie in with our thinking that traffic was down in May because of the holidays (businesses away so less email being sent and received and people on holiday so not playing games).

The highest hour for streaming has been broken four times in the last month. The previous high of 252.1GB was set between 9pm and 10pm on 22nd May.

This was first beaten on Sunday 22nd June between 9pm and 10pm with 259.9GB, then the following Sunday 29th June saw 264.3GB between 9pm and 10pm only to be beaten by 283.4GB on Monday 30th June between 8pm and 9pm and then an hour later beaten again with 287.3GB between 9pm and 10pm.

This graph shows streaming per hour in GB since November last year, each line represents a different hour of the day. GB Downloaded per Hour

We suspect a large amount of the Sunday traffic likely down to people watching the previous day’s episode or Doctor Who, however there will also be other traffic in there such as Top Gear, Euro 2008 final and Andy Murray’s Wimbledon games amongst others.

The final episode of the new series of Doctor Who is caused another high day for streaming last Sunday, although not quite record breaking. The cliffhanger ending the week before probably meant more people decided to watch it on TV rather than catch up via iPlayer. With Doctor Who finished now until Christmas we didn’t see the familar dip in interactive traffic this Saturday evening. We’ve also seen the launch recently of more or improved streaming services with Channel 4, ITV and Sky now offering catch up type services and Zattoo allowing people to watch streaming versions of most channels available on Freeview.

It wouldn’t be at all surprising to continue to see records broken, more and more people are going to use iPlayer, 4OD, Sky Player and the others and more and more content is going to become available and at a higher bit-rate.

The BBC have also announced some forthcoming changes to iPlayer and the changes are already available in beta form on the BBC website.

The most important changes from our perspective include the increased player size (which will no doubt mean more bandwidth being used) and the addition of radio in the same player interface. There are a number of other changes that we’re sure many people will find useful like shows picking up where you left off if you stop watching part way through and the way the schedules are displayed.

It is also interesting to see the decrease in P2P traffic over the year. It may be that services like iPlayer and 4OD are turning customers away from P2P downloads, or it could be stories like the filesharing letters or the proposed three strikes policy that is changing peoples’ thinking.

This graph shows the volume of P2P traffic downloaded per day since November (there are a few drops where our data is incomplete):

Our customers uploaded and downloaded a grand total of 1.41PB last month, that’s the second highest figure ever (the highest was 1.46PB). We wouldn’t be surprised to beat the highest next month as July has 31 days. At 47.04GB per day it’s not far below the highest per day of 47.09GB per day either. Both those highs were set in March this year.

The recent upgrade to our traffic management systems has also brought us a new signature for detecting YouTube traffic. About a year ago Ellacoya published a study (PDF) showing that around 10% of traffic was YouTube.

On average YouTube traffic accounts for about 6.5% of the network (across the whole day and night, just download) but at the highest point is now accounting for about 16% of all downloaded traffic on our network.

All in all it makes for a lot of traffic on the network. It would be interesting to know if because of the faster connections on offer now than a couple of years ago thanks to Max people are wanting the content more immediately in the form of streaming and the faster speeds are allowing that (whereas perhaps before they were prepared to wait for a P2P download) or that the emergence of more streaming content means that more people are looking at the Internet to deliver video in real time.

Our usage data seems to suggest a mix of both, P2P usage in general is on the decline, streaming is up and the number of people using it, and particularly using it in large enough volume, continues to grow.

Dave Tomlinson
PlusNet Product Team

dave

This entry was posted by Dave Tomlinson on Thursday, July 17th, 2008 at 10:21 am and is tagged with , and is posted in the category Plusnet News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


10 comments on "More Record Breaking Streaming and the Latest iPlayer News"

s_d_c

Nice blog Dave, as always ;-)

Have you seen much effect of the increased allowances on the BBYW products (downloading habits changing from off-peak to peak)?

Do you expect to see much impact from the E3 announcements for PS3/360 with respect to downloadable movie content / renting via NetFlix?

talpa

On a network that prioritises streaming over P2P, and on which you've acknowledged that there's been an increase in streaming traffic - wouldn't you expect that the volume of P2P traffic would decrease, because it's being limited more heavily in favour of streaming et al.

I don't think it's necessarily fair to interpret your stats as a decrease in "demand"...

Thoughts?

axisofevil

All that effort playing with a flashy web site could have been better spent in developing a Linux friendly downloader.

dave

Yep, we have seen a little bit of a change. The increased usage allowances on BBYW 2, 3 and Pro have seen the average usage per customer on these products grow by approximately 15% over the last 2 months.

Digging into what that increase is made up from the biggest change seems to be P2P traffic in the chargeable hours (8am to midnight). The percentage of P2P downloaded and uploaded overnight on BBYW Option 2 for example decreased from around 74% to 64%.

I expect some increase in usage to come off the back of movie content on the PS3 and Xbox 360 but I think certainly to start with the impact will be small. Something like the iPlayer has shown that people prefer streaming (streaming outweighs downloads about 8:1). The Gadget Show this week had an interesting test of HD content on Apple TV vs Blu-ray which kind of illustrates my thinking in that at 4 hours to download the HD movie it was far quicker to go and get it from the video shop. If it was streamable then I'm sure it would be a different story.

So it looks as though some customers are using their increased usage allowance to download a few things during the day when previously they may have scheduled it to download overnight (or not downloaded it at all).

dave

"On a network that prioritises streaming over P2P, and on which you’ve acknowledged that there’s been an increase in streaming traffic - wouldn’t you expect that the volume of P2P traffic would decrease"

Even on products like BBYW Pro and PAYG where there's no difference in the priority of streaming and P2P (or rate limit) there's a decrease in P2P usage.

On BBYW Pro usage has dropped from a high of 7.81GB in December per customer of P2P to 6.39GB last month. On PAYG. While a year ago on PAYG P2P usage was 0.46GB per customer per month and is now 0.37GB per month.

It's certainly a shift in the type of usage that customers are doing, one of the reasons someone may select BBYW Pro over another product is because all traffic gets high priority on the network and doesn't get rate limit and yet they too are using more streaming and less P2P.

Another example is the overnight usage. We were seeing around 150-170TB per month of P2P and Usenet downloaded during the overnight (midnight to 8am) period a year ago, it's now around 140-150TB.

talpa

Thanks for the figures Dave - can you divide them by the number of customers online in the period?

(IE if the number of customers on Pro has fallen [Maybe due to the increased limits on the other products] then that could also be the reason for the drop?

Anyway - all interesting stuff!

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[...] semana, a Ars Technica divulgou algumas estatísticas publicadas pelo ISP britânico PlusNet em Julho que corroboram esses dados: o tráfego de Peer-to-Peer está de facto a diminuir a olhos [...]

[...] I wrote about Amazon extending their video streaming service, and now today I read about traffic data at ISP Plusnet that backs up this trend (via the blogs of Azeem Azhar and Martin [...]

[...] 2006.12.06) of the global Internet traffic during 2006, accounting for around 25% on some networks (PlusNet, 2008.07.17), but according to more detailed reports, accounting for more than 50% of the network’s [...]

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