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OTT Video Momentum Builds

NEW YORK — Recent studies of over-the-top (OTT) video use from a pair of broadband marketplace reports have found streaming-video services growing nicely, with Netflix continuing to lead an ever-changing pack of players.

A study from Infonetics Research found that OTT video providers are poised to generate $5.8 billion this year, on the way to more than $10 billion in 2018. That compares with a total pay-TV market of $117 billion in the first half of 2014, up 3.9 percent from the same period in 2013.

While not quite ready to supplant subscriptionbased multichannel programming services, the trend shows that changes in viewership practices are on the way, fueled in part by the climbing penetration of smart TVs and outboard streaming adapters.

“Subscription-based over-the-top providers like Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon have seen phenomenal growth over the last couple of years. With a combination of wide availability across end devices, user-friendly interfaces, and access to vast content libraries, these providers continue to challenge traditional pay-TV providers and are in the early stages of siphoning off revenue,” Jeff Heynen, Infonetics Research principal analyst for broadband access and pay TV, said in a statement.

In a separate study by Ontario, Canada-based broadband networking equipment company Sandvine, the clear king of the OTT hill is Netflix, which generates the most traffic in regular usage.

Growing in usage and importance is Amazon Instant Video, which follows Netflix somewhat distantly, but is starting to gain momentum.

Sandvine’s recent “Global Internet Phenomena Report 2H 2014,” which was based on anonymous data compiled from Sandvine’s 250-plus customers around the globe, said Netflix accounts for more than 32 percent of aggregate traffic (downstream and upstream) on North American fixed networks, reflecting little change from six months earlier.

YouTube was second at 13.25 percent, followed by HTTP traffic 8.47 percent, Bit- Torrent at 5.03 percent, Facebook at 2.94 percent, iTunes at 2.55 percent, “MPEGOther” at 2.44 percent, Amazon Video 2.37 percent and Hulu at 1.2 percent.

Amazon Video, Sandvine noted, has seen its share more than double in the past 18 months, establishing it as the second-leading paid OTT video service in North America, despite having no presence in Canada.

For next year Sandvine is listing HBO-sourced video traffic as a contender to watch, once the premium programmer launches a stand-alone OTT service that does not require subscribers to already have an HBO subscription on a cable or satellite pay-TV service. Sandvine said currently HBO Go, the network’s streaming service platform, accounts for about 1 percent of downstream traffic during peak periods.

“With both Netflix and Amazon Instant Video gaining bandwidth share in North America during 2014, it will be fascinating to see how a stand-alone HBO Go streaming option will impact networks when it launches in 2015,” stated Dave Caputo, Sandvine president and CEO. “The dynamic streaming-video market underscores how important it is that operators around the globe have the business intelligence and big data solutions in place to understand the ever-changing behavior of their subscribers.”