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Waiting for the video explosion

A new report shows that real-time video accounts for almost half of North American peak-time downloads. So why isn’t it happening here?

In the latest Global Internet Phenomena Report from Sandvine, almost a third of all traffic came from one site — Netflix. It has driven an explosion in real-time entertainment that is taking longer to take hold in this part of the world. Why? Well, as Ian Gardiner, CEO at Viocorp, asks, “where are the fantastic video-on-demand services out there that consumers are clamouring for?”

It seems the delivery of entertainment content is being held back by commercial interests rather than technical constraints. But the technology is important. Greg Bader, CTO at iiNet, says when it comes to paid-for content we’ll expect the quality control we can only experience across a managed network. He may be right, but let’s remember that Netflix has cornered the North American market offering an over-the-top service that is not reliant on cooperation with internet service providers.

So the time is right for a new player to emerge to offer video on demand to the local market — ideally someone without the vested interest and closed garden mentality of existing providers. One of the benefits is likely to be a decrease in piracy. As Sandvine’s executive vice president Tom Donnelly explains, the growth in real-time entertainment has slowed the growth in peer-to-peer file sharing. It supports the often-voiced argument that if you make content available people will pay for it rather than resort to piracy.

This latest report also shows how quickly behaviour can change. With the right model in place our use of the internet could change markedly.

It’s a sudden shift that we’re unlikely to see here for some time, thanks to vested commercial interests.

First published on ZDNet

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