Skip to main content

Study Offers a Glimpse at Cord-Cutter Consumption

As broadband caps and usage-based billing of high-speed Internet services become the norm, Sandvine’s latest broadband-usage study has shed some timely light on how many bytes so-called “cord-cutters” tend to gobble down in a given month.

Sandvine’s new Global Internet Phenomena Report, which tabulated data from March from more than 250 Internet-service providers worldwide, found that cordcutters — at least U.S. consumers who fit the profile because they use streaming as a primary form of entertainment — chowed down about 212 Gigabytes of data per month, with 153 GB of that total going toward “real-time entertainment” usage. This group also accounted for 72% of streaming share, represented 53.9% of total traffic, and averaged 100 hours of streaming per month.

Sandvine, the bandwidth management and analytics firm, also calculated trends for the “typical subscriber” who averages nine hours of streaming per month, and “non-streamers” who stream less than 100 Megabytes of audio or video each month.

Interestingly, the average monthly bit consumption still falls below many of the usage-based broadband policies that U.S. MSOs are testing or deploying now.

Comcast, for example, is testing a policy in Atlanta and a handful of other markets that utilizes a soft monthly cap of 300 GB before users are subject to a charge of $10 for each additional bucket of 50 GB of data. Mediacom Communications, meanwhile, has launched a policy across the board that charges $10 for each 50 GB of data if users go beyond a monthly threshold that varies by speed tier.

Speaking last Wednesday (May 14) at the MoffettNathanson Media & Communications Summit in New York, Comcast executive vice president David Cohen predicted that Comcast could have usage-based billing rolled out across its footprint in five years, but added the prediction that “the vast majority of our customers would never be caught in the buying [of] additional buckets of usage.” He also predicted that the cap could rise to 500 GB per month within that same time span.

Among other findings, Sandvine said Netflix traffic continues to rule on North American fixed access networks. It also noted that Twitch, a service that lets users broadcast and watch live streaming of video games, is closing in on top-10 status among individual streaming apps. Twitch now accounts for 1.35% of traffic — enough to outpace HBO GO’s 1.24%.