In North America, Netflix streaming video accounts for 29.7% of peak downstream Internet traffic and has become the largest source of Internet traffic overall, according to a study by bandwidth-management vendor Sandvine.
As of March 2011, real-time entertainment applications -- which largely comprise Netflix's streaming-video -- consume 49.2% of peak aggregate traffic in North America, up from 29.5% in 2009 and up from 42.7% in 2010.
Last October Sandvine estimated Netflix accounted for at least 20% of downstream peak traffic in the U.S.
As of the end of March, Netflix had 23.6 million subscribers in the U.S. and Canada.
"The dramatic growth of Netflix and its impending global expansion are prime examples of a growing appetite for real-time entertainment," Dave Caputo, Sandvine president and CEO, said in announcing the findings.
Sandvine's spring 2011 study is based on voluntary and completely anonymous data, aggregated from 220 fixed and mobile service provider networks in more than 85 countries in Europe, Latin America and North America.