Netflix Streaming Is Huge

Netflix streaming is not just an up-and-coming mode of video distribution. It's become huge.

Netflix accounted for 20 percent of all U.S. peak downstream internet traffic in 2009, according to a study by Sandvine, a seller of equipment for bandwidth management, as quoted in Multichannel News.

The publication also reported that video and audio streaming in general accounts for 27 percent of global traffic, up from 13 percent in 2008. File sharing is another 20 percent, down from 32 percent the previous year.

The CEO of Netflix is proud as punch: "We are very proud to announce that by every measure we are now a streaming company, which also offers DVDs by mail," says Reed Hastings. "DVD by mail shipments are still growing, but streaming for us is much larger and growing much faster." When Netflix will launch a streaming-only service in the U.S., to match the one it's just launched in Canada, remains unannounced but probably imminent.

Netflix should not wait long unless it wants to watch competitors eat its lunch. Rumor has it that Hulu Plus will drop the monthly fee for its streaming service from $9.95 to $4.95.