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Cisco: Live Video Usage to Increase 15-Fold by 2021

14 Jun, 2017 By: Doug McPherson

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Live video usage will increase 15-fold during the next five years and account for 13 percent of global internet traffic by 2021, Cisco reports in its annual study of how the internet is being used.

That equates to the global internet supporting 3 trillion minutes of video consumption per month by 2021. And video’s share will expand from 73 percent to 82 percent during that time frame.

Cisco adds that while on-demand streaming of Netflix HD remains the staple usage pattern, new subtypes of video consumption are helping drive usage growth even further.

One obvious example was last week’s Senate testimony of former FBI director James Comey – it was streamed live on news publisher sites, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, among many others. Michael Downing, CEO and founder of digital video distribution platform Tout, calls this the “TV-ification of the web.”

While TV viewership was strong, the preliminary numbers on YouTube point to an additional focus on digital video from traditional news publishers. For example, by 11:30 a.m. EDT, about 90 minutes into Comey’s testimony, The Washington Post’s YouTube stream had roughly 155,000 viewers tuned in.

NBC News’ YouTube stream clocked in at 118,000 viewers at the same time, while CBS’ stream had 125,000.

“Live streaming is replacing broadcast,” said Shruti Jain, a Cisco senior analyst. “Most live streams are unicast. This is going to be a significant source of traffic going forward.”

Cisco projects that as streamed video shifts from being a purely on-demand proposition to a live one, other iterations of video will increase, as well. Virtual reality and augmented reality, for example, will increase 20-fold during the next five years. The number of homes with flat-panel connected 4K TV sets, meanwhile, will increase from 16 million to 56 million in five years. 

Video will be consumed primarily over mobile devices. Wi-Fi and mobile will generate 73 percent of traffic by 2021. Globally, the number of homes equipped with Wi-Fi will grow from 85 million in 2016 to 526.2 million in 2021. By that year, smartphones will account for 33 percent of global IP traffic.

Asia-Pacific will remain the data consumption leader in five years, using an estimated 107.7 exabytes per month by 2021. The “APAC” region will be followed by North America (85 exabytes), Western Europe (37 exabytes), and Central Europe (17.1 exabytes).

About the Author: Doug McPherson

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