Pop-quiz, hotshot: what uses more bandwidth in North America than any other single type of web content? If you cheated by reading the headline, you know the answer isn't funny cats, or even arguing with that one guy who's obviously wrong. No, according to a report from independent researcher Sandvine Incorporated (via Gamasutra), the late-night Dr. Who binges on your Netflix-equipped console are hogging the tubes.
The study claims that Netflix alone accounts for 29.7% of downstream bandwidth, and 24.71% of overall bandwidth. This is up from only 20.61% of downstream traffic in October. The three major home consoles each have their own Netflix-playing app, which makes up 66.3% of the overall Netflix use, meaning game consoles hit 19.7% of all web bandwidth. On average, console users consume about 2.5 GB per day via Netflix.
If you want fuel for your console wars, PlayStation 3 gets the most Netflix usage at 30.57%, followed by the Xbox 360 at 24.94%, Windows PCs at 19.55%, and Nintendo Wii at 10.75%. Though it is worth noting that, of all the services, the Xbox 360 is the only one that requires a paid subscription via Xbox Live Gold to access Netflix.
Other sources of web bandwidth are more-or-less what you'd expect. Web pages (i.e. funny cats, arguments) made up the next largest percentage (18.36%), then YouTube (11.04%), BitTorrent (10.37%), and flash video (4.88%).
"Even doubters (if there are any left) must now agree that the age of Internet video is upon us," the report stated. "Subscribers have clearly embraced the Netflix streaming service, fundamentally altering the Internet landscape."