Wired has an odd little feature Web is Dead (Long Live the Internet) about their forecast from 1997 (Push!). They claimed way back then that the browser was dead, and push technologies would soon rule.

Um, wrong.

What really stands out, however, is the post YouTube, Hulu, Vimeo rise of video. According to the graphic below, video now accounts for 51% (WTF?!?) of total US web traffic. (Some of this reflects that video data  is so much denser than mere text and images).

Indeed, if you look at our video tab, most of the content I embed — WSJ, Yahoo Tech Ticker, TED, CNBC, Bloomberg, NYT,  Fora — simply was not available 2 years  ago.


Category: Web/Tech

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

39 Responses to “The Rise of Web Video”

  1. Thor says:

    Think the title might be missing a word on this one BR ;-)


    BR: Doh! I’ll fix above

  2. auden5 says:

    Mr. Ritholtz:

    Thank you for sharing such interesting “chartporn,” as you usually call it :-)

    You know,your blog posts have been all over the place lately. Your Fleix Zulauf interview implies another major market crash, taking the S&P to 500 or below; another recent post discusses a bond bubble, which, as Greg Mankiw and the WSJ point out, implies equities are undervalued (not overvalued); and your comments about the banking reform bill indicate that the legislation does not effectively mitigate the risks of another banking crisis (indeed, I am despondent about the failure of the bill to limit leverage–a consistent harbinger of financial disaster throughout history).

    While I love the information you post, I am striving to see a consistent theme, and I cannot find one. Personally, I think smaller tech stocks (e.g., Brocade, etc.) are undervalued, and larger tech companies will continue to use acquisitions to boost their bottom lines. In other words, the absence of a growing economy and consumer spending will force tech companies to use their ample cash to engage in Oracle-style business practices, i.e., using acquisitions to grow and reduce potential competitors. Beyond the former general statements, I don’t have many opinions about our current market, which is why I hope to see more of your personal opinions here.

  3. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    I wonder what kinds of videos all of these people are watching.

    Oh . . .

    . . . yeah . . .

    . . . never mind.

  4. louis says:

    Looking forward to your response on previous comment.

    On the topic posted – http://www.google.com/tv/

  5. louis says:

    Auden’s comment Petey, not yours.

  6. Reinko says:

    Ah the demise of the newsgroups… So much old emotion…

    Email still is small just like it was designed.

    And how do you measure ‘internet traffic’, is it the bits and bytes multiplied by the distance they travel?

    But for the USA it is a miracle to achieve 50% in video traffic, how do they get it though their 56K modems I just wonder…

  7. GlennF says:

    I was present at the death of push. The arc of hype was near the top, and a company I worked with had organized a major push conference in San Jose. All the major players were there: all the companies making the technology, and all the companies looking to buy or deploy or invest. The sessions were brutal in showing how unready the technology was, and how poorly it affected the workplace. It may have been timing, but I think the event showed how bad push was.

    That said, though, we have a lot of pull/push and push today. RSS is “pull” technology, but it’s somewhat like push. Push insisted on telling us what we wanted; RSS lets us choose. In some ways, because RSS readers typically refresh automatically, it feels like push because new information from sources we select automatically arrives.

    And there’s push email, which is what drove Research in Motion’s success.

    As for video, the chart is about bytes (percentage of traffic), not minutes, or users. Video is a network-heavy use. It’s more amazing that Web traffic, if it’s just counting graphics and pages (not video embedded in pages), still has such a percentage of use.

    Also, see BoingBoing’s renormalization of the Cisco data that Wired uses, which better shows overall growth in usage over time, rather than a shift in uses.

  8. Reinko says:

    Now I am looking a bit longer at this so called chartporn, the peer-to-peer traffic is 23% just like the web traffic…

    That’s high man, given the fact most p2p stuff is one 100% illegal we once more observe the goodies of life will often be free (after you have paid for your bandwidth fee).

  9. obsvr-1 says:

    The internet is the great emancipator of applications and content which has enabled creativity and innovation down to the personal level.

    It’s ironic that they use the WEB to say the WEB is dead ….

    Web / Browser / HTML (+++ open standard variants) is but one of the many application/content delivery vehicles, happens to be the ubiquitous and most broadly used one.

    It is not surprising that Video content, measured by number of bytes transmitted across the internet is a majority payload type. Video will continue to dwarf the other content traffic (remember a picture is worth a thousand words, a movie … ), as Petey Wheatstraw inferred above online porn alone would represent a large % of the video traffic.

    What is measured beyond pure bytes can tell many stories:
    # of email messages
    # of application downloads
    # of application & s/w updates (recall the days of getting a floppy(ies) / CD to load manually – yuck)
    # of e-commerce transactions – $ amount of transactions
    # of stock market transactions
    # of VoiceOverIP conversations
    # of tweets
    etc …
    what is measured is only limited by the number of different applications and content
    with value in the eye of the app-holder

  10. wildebeest says:

    @Petey Wheatstraw

    While the majority is still probably porn the web is great for on demand video. You can plug your computer into your TV and e.g. catch The Daily Show and Colbert Report whenever you want. It is rare for me to watch any “live” TV these days other than live sports. Everything I watch now is at a time of my choosing — EZTV is also a great place to start: http://eztv.it/

  11. X on the MTA says:

    I despise internet video. Particularly because it is overused. I get it, some things like porn, or tv-replacements (hulu, netflix, youtube) really lend themselves to video online, but there is SO MUCH content that doesn’t, like many newscasts, monologues, and my pet-peeve, the screen-casts from those mouth-breathers at stocktwits (twit is indeed fitting).

    a huge part of the drive to video online is not about making content better, it’s about making you look at their page so they can make more ad revenue. most of CNBC could just as well be audio files, as are many interview videos. Most monologue type stuff (and many interviews) would be better presented as text (which is easier to quote, link to, search and store). I am really sick of web properties trying to play this game with us where they try to steal as much of our eyeball time as they can for a couple of pennies. I actually have gotten to the point where I am so sick by having my time wasted, that unless it’s netflix or a very occasional youtube clip, or a vimeo clip from an artist friend of mine, I refuse to look at anything that is video on the internet. It’s a huuge time and attention suck. I can listen to interviews while I work, I can scan text for the parts relevant to me, and I can print text/image combinations and read them while having lunch or on the train.

  12. Reinko says:

    My dear Wildebeest it is very true that the majority of internet traffic will be porn.

    It’s a bit naughty but porn could outlive all fiat currencies we have today, I have no clean database driven statistical proof for that but porn also outlived the Spanish inquisition from just a few centuries back.


    Without any kind of insult to Wildebeest or anyone: If you have the need for plugging your television set into your computer because you need to see these fantastic shows, might it be, without any kind of insult, there is a giant void? Believe me there is a life beyond shows you might now want to miss.

    I would never plug my television to the computer, you only maximise simultaneous destruction of all your devices at once.

  13. TakBak04 says:

    BR… You are “All Over the Place” lately… It’s hard to keep up with your blog……..

    But then…your VIEWERS are all over the place not knowing which way to run from the “FALLING KNIFE!”

    So…I guess we just gotta figure…”It’s ..ALL OVER the PLACE” …..because “WHO KNOWS” which way the “Falling Knife” …does FALL!

    Yikes…….sounds like the movie “The Ninth Gate” where you watch it all…it makes sense as to how it’s going..and then in the 9th Inning…the Damned PLOT and the sense of what you are viewing just falls apart and the whole thing ends up …”WITH NO RESOLUTION!” It makes the “eyes in me head…roll around like I had a brain injury!”

    How do we deal with these posts of yours and the insance stuff from the MSM FINANCIAL ..these days?

    HOW…..Eyeballs Rolling and Rolling….

  14. VennData says:

    Mr. Ritholtz:

    Thank you for sharing such interesting Mandelbox video.

    Did you know that your blogging has been all over heck and high water an back lately? That guy from Sweden, Flex Zulauf, seems to me to be OK except for his workout routine with all those bicycles versus Brian Wein …snickers… (sorry, can’t stop laughing.) And another one of your posits claims that there might be another bubble, in bonds? Soooorrryyy…. no.

    I am striving, yet failing, at this point in time, to obtain a thread throughout your ideas, though I do find that VennData commenteir to be absolutely the most funniest and thought provoking commentier in a collective of highly-powered commentiers.

    Personally, I think one should go long the XLF, of which I have no particular interest other than it seems like it might be a great place to make lots of money for all of your readers real fast, if they’re so inclined. I suggest market orders at the open., or call options, the October 15 strike looks just about right.

    Also in the above column can you please explain what might be in the “other” category might be is?

    Avid Reader

  15. TakBak04 says:

    @wildebeest Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    @Petey Wheatstraw

    While the majority is still probably porn the web is great for on demand video. You can plug your computer into your TV and e.g. catch The Daily Show and Colbert Report whenever you want. It is rare for me to watch any “live” TV these days other than live sports. Everything I watch now is at a time of my choosing — EZTV is also a great place to start: http://eztv.it/

    That Site you Link had BIG Problems….maybe you should have checked out before posting. “Video Image Not Available”…and it looked like some place one could collect “FLEAS” …eg..VIRUSES for your Computer.

    Maybe when you get the “BUGS” worked out it will be viewable…or maybe it was just my “lone experience” that caused me to get OUT OF IT QUICKLY.


  16. dmlopr says:

    And everybody seems to have a phone that can record/send straight to the web pics and video. Pc no longer required.

  17. TomL says:

    Substitute ‘internet video’ for television.

    “When television is good, nothing—not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers—nothing is better. But when television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite you each of you to sit down in front of your television set when your station goes on the air and stay there for a day without a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, without a profit and loss sheet or a rating book to distract you. Keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland.”

    - Newton Minow, FCC commissioner
    May 9, 1961
    speech to the National Association of Broadcasters

  18. wildebeest says:


    there is no “need” to watch anything. A person doesn’t “need” to watch TV, go to movies, go to the theater … my point was that if I decide I feel like watching something, rather than browse a TV guide I choose something from the internet. In other words the comment was about one medium versus another rather than the absolute need for either.

    Never had a problem accessing that site in 2 years, maybe more. I clicked on the link in the comment and had no problems. Something wrong with your connection I suspect.

  19. Jack says:

    And of course, video is really audio unless you look at chartporn all day. Video is, and will be, talking heads, as in speaking, you know, using language, like, you know, using words, like you Mr. Ritholtz.

    A picture is worth a thousand words? Really? And a video? A video? Moving pictures? Gotta be worth at least two thousand words.

    Nobody reads, nobody listens. Everybody watches.

    What’s wrong with this picture?

  20. constantnormal says:

    A more interesting chart — although the one presented had its merits — would be the one in which absolute bandwidth by category (in units like terabits/second) was presented for the various categories over the years.

    Such a chart would show (I think) that all categories are growing … except the video is positively exploding … and might emphasize the urgency for the telcos to get off their fat butts and start expanding their network capacity! And while they are at it, they might actually hire people instead of reducing their work force and using bandwidth caps as a strategy for managing customer demand.

    When one has a captive customer base, and in the face of growing demand, one does not expand the capacity to sell that which one sells (i.e., bandwidth), one deserves to lose the monopoly over that captive customer base.

  21. Pocket QQ says:

    Video Velocity and Bond Bubbles.

    Has Fusion IQ ponied up for Digital Globe yet?


  22. scharfy says:

    sweet memories of newsgroups on dial-up…..

  23. yoganmahew says:

    Call me paranoid, but I’m suspicious of any chart that places the start of ‘Web’ traffic to before the WWW ‘existed’…

  24. denis_bda says:


    To put on my geek cap for a second, I suspect by “Web” they’re roping in the use of Gopher that preceeded the pre late-1993 release of WWW. Mind you, considering Gopher was a separate protocol that operated in parallel to the www for some time after the release of the “Web” they invalidate their entire argument due to a lack of understanding of the evolution of the internet.

  25. tawm says:

    When I was studying the Telecom industry in Asia in the late 1980s, FAX traffic (data) had already surpassed the 50% mark of traffic on international phone lines. Just as analog data (Fax) is denser with more information than analog voice, digital video is more information dense than other types of digital data (i.e. web pages, e-mail). Content-rich data just grows and grows.
    You might look on the long-running “Net Neutrality” controversy – where gov’t wants to dictate that Internet carriers (phone / cable companies) should not be allowed to give priority to any type of data traffic over any other. i.e. signals from Grandma’s wireless heart monitor to the hospital will have the same priority as BR’s Web porn downloads….

  26. [...] Perspectives on Capital Markets, Economy, Technology, and Digital Media. A few of you have made specific comments or emailed about this [...]

  27. denis_bda says:


    And of course it looks like I invalidated much of my argument by not crosschecking much of what I remember vs. wikipedia’s references. None the less I assume they’re roping Gopher traffic into their classification of “web” as it was a significant informative resource in the early 90′s.

  28. rktbrkr says:

    I’d like to see that chart in absolute measurements in addition to the relative percentages because the non-video uses are probably growing just growing relatively slower.

    Remember when they said all the fiber laid would NEVER be used? And remember when Google started buying dark fiber with abandon – I’m guessing 5 years ago…

    If Google TV catches on just imagine the load that will place on the web.

    Meanwhile landlines are becoming extinct – like telegraph wires.

  29. yoganmahew says:

    Ah gopher. Memories. kermit too…

    Of course they also totally ignore private email networks that pre-date the public ones – IBMMAIL, VM peer-to-peer, TTY messages to/from individual users… it’s a strange thing, but the number of email messages I send has remained pretty constant over the twenty years I’ve been sending them. They have richer content (and bigger headers!) now, but the number and the data contents are pretty similar.

  30. tawm says:

    yaganmahew — IBMMAIL! I worked on the x.400 gateway for that service. We’re really dating yourselves with references to VM…. PROFS anyone?

  31. yoganmahew says:

    PROFS indeed, or even just doing a sendfile on a text file to user at a remote node @ somewhere else…

    Do you remember instant message (TELL or MSG)?

    (None of which is really a valid criticism of the graphic, since it is about the proportion of video in internet usage; us dinosaurs having our pop at the confusion of internet and web and at the fact that the net existed even if the inter bit of it was restricted; this is not really that different a situation to today where you have to buy into an ISP…).

  32. WaveCatcher says:

    Netflix streaming movies is a killer app on my iPad. Wondering if Movie streaming is included in the “Video” portion of the above chart?

  33. tawm says:


    ah yes, I still use “sf/” as shorthand to remind me to send info to someone….

    My first online community (1986) used DEC “Parti” BBS — it was TWICS in Tokyo, an ecclectic group of mostly Mac users. 1200 bps dial-up modems were quite state of the art!

    Then I joined a big blue computer company and regressed into the world of VM, PROFS and mainframe-based messaging. The was one VNET e-mail gateway to the internet — but once admin approval was received to use it — the messaging world beyond SNA was open!

  34. tawm says:

    @realgm: Banner Ads are not a viable business model beyond the very short term.

  35. tagyoureit says:

    Guess we can look forward too 2 way live video & hardware interfaces? :P

  36. call me when the brain plugs roll out

  37. leoklein says:

    “(Some of this reflects that video data is so much denser than mere text and images).”

    Considering what a bandwidth hog video is, the above just might be the understatement of the week.

  38. The real question is where does Social Networking traffic fall. My first guess would be “web.” It’s got to be an enormous portion of internet traffic. I guess not really if it’s considered in terms of MB of bandwidth, but people are spending so much time glued to Facebook these days, it would almost be better to measure traffic in terms of time spent on a particular site, in which case Facebook wins handily I think.