Netflix changing TV viewing habits

19:29, Jul 10 2011

Television viewing habits are changing rapidly in North America where people are flocking to video and game streaming services such as Netflix, which is now estimated to account for about a quarter of all US internet traffic.

Netflix has signed up more than 23 million members, who get unlimited access to a wide range of movies and shows streamed to computers and broadband-connected televisions for a flat rate of US$7.99 (NZ$9.66) a month.

Alcatel-Lucent's solution development manager Gary Fehr says that at peak times, Netflix accounts for as much as half of US internet traffic. He cites it as one of the drivers of demand for the technology giant's latest breakthrough, a fully configurable network processor capable of shifting data across fibre networks at the speed of 400 gigabits per second – four times the previous limit.

Netflix is a revolution that has largely bypassed New Zealand. InternetNZ chief executive Vikram Kumar says services such as Netflix and radio equivalent, internet streaming radio service, tend to be US or European-centric. "You can't get it from New Zealand."

Freeview chief executive Sam Irvine forecasts that could change and Netflix could become a global juggernaut once it reaches a "tipping point" and it becomes worth its while buying up worldwide internet streaming rights for movies, shows and music – rather than negotiating licensing deals one-by-one for major markets.