IP Video Growth through 2017
Posted by Colin Dixon Cisco has just released the 2013 version of the Visual Networking Index
(VNI). According to the company, video will continue to dominate, and drive growth in, the consumer Internet through 2017. As well, the company forecasts that mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones, will wield increasing influence with consumers growing their share of video bandwidth 7 times over the period. The PC, however, continues to lose influence as a video consumption device accounting for barely 50% of video bandwidth by 2017. Since tablets and smartphones are wireless devices, VNI forecasts a corresponding increase in the consumption of video over Wi-Fi and mobile data plans. As well, Cisco believes consumers will become more honest with file sharing, and potentially illegal file sharing, halving its share of video bandwidth through 2017.
Cisco says Internet video comprised 56% of consumer bandwidth in 2012, 14.8 petabytes/month of the overall 26.2 pb/mon. In 2017, that will have grown to 69%, or 52.8 pb/mon of the overall 76.5 pb/mon. In other words, while overall consumer Internet bandwidth consumed will almost triple from 2012 to 2017, video bandwidth consumed will increase 3.5 times.
IP Video Traffic by Device through 2017
Cisco’s analysis paints an interesting picture of the evolution of the online video consumer. Aside from the massive increase in video consumed through 2017, the company is forecasting a big decline in the use of file sharing sites. Specifically, file sharing occupied 15.7% of IP video traffic in 2012 with the share halving by 2017 to just 8.1%. Since file sharing is commonly associated with illegal file downloading we might conclude that many consumers will switch, over time, to legitimate video sources online.
This appears to parallel data from NPD group
earlier this year claiming a big decrease in illegal music file sharing. This decrease was attributed to the wide availability of free legal services such as Pandora. Given the recent trend in the U.S. of broadcaster content retreating behind the pay-TV paywall one has to wonder if the same dynamics will impact video file sharing. However, this does not seem to be the case in other regions of the world where the trend is for increasing availability free-to-air TV content also available for free online.
Devices consumers use to watch online video is forecast to continue its move away from the PC toward mobile devices. Cisco says that tablets and smartphones consumed just 2.6% of IP bandwidth in 2012. The company believes this share will grow to over 20% by 2017. At the same time, PC share will shrink from 73.7% to 50.8% over the same period. Looking at some of the most recent data from companies such as the BBC, this estimate might be conservative. In the March iPlayer Performance Pack
, the BBC reported that iPlayer requests to mobile devices increased from 15% in March 2012 to 30% in March 2013. Meanwhile, PC requests plummeted from 59% to 47% over the same period.
The impact of mobile devices can certainly be seen in the forecasts for video consumption by access technology. Over the period, Cisco forecasts strong growth in video carried over wireless technology (Wi-Fi and mobile data plans.) Since mobile devices primarily use wireless for access this parallels the growth in video consumption on the devices. While fixed wired access decreases from 50.1% in 2012 to 34.1% in 2017, fixed/Wi-Fi increases from 47.5% to 55.5%. Mobile data plans are forecast to grow strongly, from 2.5% to 10.6%. Cisco is anticipating that bandwidth caps will ease considerably over the period encouraging users to consume more video while outside the home. As well, the impact of new high efficiency codecs may be felt toward the end of the period effectively doubling the amount video a consumer can watch under their existing caps.