I got asked a really good question on Friday as I was presenting a preview of the report to a strategic Sandvine customer. In an earlier blog on the percentage of video traffic, I ask: "How much video can we watch?" The question asked during the session was: "Or what if 10% of video suddenly moved to HD?" A follow up to the initial question came shortly afterwards: "What if 10% more users actually cut the cord and went to streaming video?"
We do discuss what could move the needle for video in the report, but I never actually went back and calculated the "what if" scenarios. My curiosity was peaked, so despite still needing to tweak the final version of the report, I had to run some numbers to see what would happen.
Scenario 1: 10% more video added to total
This one is not an exact translation of "what if 10% more users streamed video?", because traffic like YouTube wouldn't be affected, so the angle was to take the over-the-top and operator IPTV number and pump it up by 10%. This actually does not move the number much, with the percentage of video moving up from 60% to 62%, so not as much as you would think.
Scenario 2: 10% of video moves to HD
This one is fairly simple. For a conservative view, I took the total amount of video, and an easy assumption is that more than 10% of all video is SD resolution. So let's take 10% of the total, subtract it out from the total, and then add it back in as 4X the previous number. I used 4X as a midpoint for the difference in file sizes that you may get from different streaming services. If this was a Netflix-only scenario, this might be different, but let's keep this simple. In this scenario, the percentage of video moves to almost 66% of the total. Not insignificant, but not a huge impact. If you make an assumption that 10% of video today is HD (which I am not convinced of), this exercise would result in the same thing moving from HD to 4K.
Scenario 3: 10% of video moves from SD to 4K
This is the extreme case. Users buy 4K TVs, get 4K capable streaming services, and stop streaming SD and move to 4K directly. Just as in the previous case, I took 10% of the total out, and added it back in at 16X (conservative number) to reflect the increase in the streaming size. This exercise moves the needle, as video would now be over 77% of the total.
Since I am not convinced that even 10% of the video streamed today is HD, it is entirely possible that we will see big leaps from users going from SD to HD to 4K in larger numbers over the next few years, especially as more cord cutting and faster broadband is purchased by households.
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