Live and Ultra HD video aren’t much of a factor in streaming video delivery today. By 2021, that should change dramatically according to a new forecast by Cisco.
Video continues to drive IP traffic growth
Cisco sees continued strong growth in IP traffic through 2021. The company says bandwidth will triple between 2016 and 2021, from 96 Exabytes per month (EBM) to 278. Video remains the dominant driver of this growth. In 2016, Internet and IP video occupied 73% of IP traffic, or 70 EBM.^ That share will increase to 82%, or 228 EBM, in 2021.
The consumer love affair with SVOD services looks to be the primary driver of bandwidth today. Cisco says that 60% of the Internet video load (29 EBM) was long form shows in 2016. This is, of course, the primary video type delivered by Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. Long-form consumption will continue to grow strongly, reaching 107 EBM, through 2021. The same is true for video shorts, which will grow from 17 EBM to 49 EBM over the same period.
Live Internet video emerges as major growth factor
However, both long-form and short-form will lose overall share of the video load. The main reason for this is the emergence of live Internet video as a major driver of bandwidth. Cisco forecasts it will grow from just 3% of the video load (1.5 EBM) in 2016, to 13% (24 EBM) in 2021. That’s equivalent to a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 74%.
There are many components of live video online. For example, major components include:
- Sports carried on streaming linear TV channels (in services like Sling TV and Hulu Live)
- Live streamed sports in services like Fox Sports Go
- Local events, like high school football and church services
- Social live broadcasting in services like Facebook Live.
According to Shruti Jain, a senior analyst with Cisco, these types are all included in the Cisco live forecast. However, she believes the biggest driver of live growth will be the user generated live streams from platforms like Facebook and Snapchat.
Given the enormous focus Facebook is putting on live, it’s hard to argue with Ms. Jain’s position. In an nScreenMedia interview with Matthew Corbin, Global Product Manager at Facebook, he said live is so successful it is leading a revival of appointment viewing. He also said much of that live viewing is taking place on smartphones, not the television.
Ultra HD will make its mark, VR will not
To date, Ultra HD has not made much of an impression in the online world of video. To be sure, services like Netflix and Amazon are providing some content in the format, but it is still not driving much streaming bandwidth. According to Cisco, just 2% of IP video (1.9 EBM) was UHD in 2016. The company says this will balloon to 21% (48 EBM) in 2021. That’s a CAGR of 91%.
The increase in the average bandwidth delivered by broadband will be a factor in consumer adoption of ultra HD. Cisco believes that it will reach 57 Mbps by 2021, more than enough to deliver an ultra HD video stream.
Virtual and augmented reality video traffic will not make much of an impact through 2021, at least according to Cisco’s VNI. The company does expect strong growth (82% CAGR) from VR and AR. However, this will only amount to 1.7 EBM, or just 0.6% of IP Video bandwidth, by 2021.
Why it matters
Video continues to drive the growth in IP traffic. IP traffic will increase 2.9X over the next five years. Video traffic will increase 3.3X.
Live streaming will become a major factor online, absorbing 13% of the video load by 2021.
Ultra HD will be a much more important factor, accounting for 21% of video load in 2021.
VR/AR will not be a major factor online through 2021.
^IP video does not transit through the Internet. It circulates solely within an ISP’s network. For example, Comcast’s Stream video service is included in IP Video because Comcast customers can only access it when on a Comcast broadband connection.