‘House of Cards’ Caused a Massive Hole In Total Internet Bandwidth

Melinda Sue Gordon/AP/Netflix
Melinda Sue Gordon/AP/Netflix


This weekend, Netflix showed just how powerful their business decisions can be. On Sunday, the movie-streaming startup released the 3rd season of the highly-anticipated political thriller, House of Cards. Compared to the average Sunday, Netflix saw a sizable 30% spike, according to data analytics firm, Sandvine.

Below is Sandvine’s own graph on how much traffic Netflix normally takes up.

A spokesman for Sandvine tells the Ferenstein Wire that it’s reasonable to estimate that on Sunday, Netflix accounted for nearly half (45%) of total Internet bandwidth.

The very existence of Netflix has serious implications for consumers and Internet policy. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission decided on a highly-controversial “net neutrality” law, which prevents Internet Service Providers from charging some websites more money for better bandwidth.

Providers, such as Verizon and Comcast, argue that data hogs like Netflix force them to expend a lot of money to upgrade their networks, so that everyone else can still use the Internet while people stream movies.

“ISPs are most concerned with bandwidth during peak,” writes Dan Deeth of Sandvine. “Kind of like building a road to suit rush hour traffic as opposed to 4am night shift workers,”

This weekend, a single company caused a tectonic shift in how much resources were needed for everyone to use the Internet. The more resources needed, the more money has to be spent upgrading networks. Ultimately, someone will have to pay that bill—either consumers or the service providers themselves.

*The Ferenstein Wire is a syndicated news service. Syndication clients may edit stories. For licensing questions, email Greg Ferenstein at greg ferenstein dot com.