People streaming movies from Netflix are eating up a ton of bandwidth, and it's only going to get worse, writes Farhad Manjoo in Slate. He notes the takeaway stat from from a new report: Netflix watching accounts for 20% of web traffic in North American homes during peak usage hours. "That's an amazing share," writes Manjoo. "It beats that of YouTube, iTunes, Hulu, and, perhaps most tellingly, the peer-to-peer file-sharing protocol BitTorrent, which accounts for a mere 8% of bandwidth during peak hours."
The scary thing is that relatively few people are using the service, and they're still racking up that huge percentage. Sounds like a disaster in the offing, but "the outcome might actually not be that dire," writes Manjoo. The demand may force ISP providers to expand capacity and finally get America's broadband capabilities where they should be. They better: Netflix will be streaming more than shipping discs in a few years. "The future of Netflix, then, is the Internet. It's an open question whether the Internet can keep up."