Prime time is Netflix time, apparently.
Netflix is driving one-fifth of all fixed network downstream traffic at the time of day that the largest number of Americans are on the Web, according to network equipment and software provider Sandvine.
"In the United States, Netflix represents more than 20 percent of downstream traffic during peak times," Sandvine wrote in a statement highlighting its "Fall 2010 Global Internet Phenomena" report. The company said that Netflix's traffic is heaviest (20.61 percent, to be precise) between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. local time--the venerable prime time for people to sit back, relax, and enjoy some programming.
Although general Web surfing is tops at peak traffic times--it accounts for 22.7 percent of all downstream traffic--Netflix is easily besting its competitors. According to Sandvine, YouTube tallies 9.85 percent of downstream traffic during downtime. It's followed by BitTorrent and Flash content across the Web, which capture 8.39 percent and 6.14 percent of downstream traffic, respectively. Apple's iTunes platform accounts for just 2.58 percent of traffic.
Netflix's achievement arises from the popularity of its streaming service. The company's offering boasts a slew of movies, television shows, and documentaries, available on device including all the major game consoles, the new Apple TV, TiVo DVRs, and some HDTVs.
Seeing the writing on the wall, Netflix has embraced that growth. Speaking during an earnings call with investors earlier this week, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said that the one-time DVD rental company is now "a streaming company that also offers DVD-by-mail." During the last quarter alone, Netflix added 2 million subscribers to its service, pushing its total to 16.9 million. A year ago, it had just 11 million subscribers.
The vast majority of those subscribers are streaming Netflix content. According to the company, 66 percent of its subscribers watched at least 15 minutes of streaming content during the third quarter.