Looking for additional information on Netflix video streaming

I'm looking for details on how Netflix streams videos over the Internet. I've found their description of encoding and bit rates, but was not able to find lower-layer details (I can only assume they use UDP, but I would like to verify that with someone who's actually using the service).

I would also appreciate any information on whether they work with Service Providers (for example, using local direct peering) to ensure the upstream Internet connections are not clogged with streamed video.

Thanks in advance for your responses!


  1. Ivan,

    I subscribe to the service and can provide a packet capture if you wish. Don't have any other details.


  2. Capture of the initial session setup and a short capture sometime during the streaming would be perfect!

    Many thanks for your kind offer!

  3. I will give you a hint.
    Netflix does not distribute content themselves. Why would they bother with that when they can cut a big contract with a Tier 1 provider?
    If you look at Tier 1 providers, you will have no trouble figuring out which one Netflix is working with.

  4. Hey Ivan,

    Netflix uses an embedded web-based video player for streaming content on the PC so they are actually using tcp via port 80. A quick wireshark capture confirms:

    GET /s/d4/087/354617087.wmv?e=1247617384&h=b171572900473556e71d585c8e4d3479 HTTP/1.1\r\n

    Request URI: /s/d4/087/354617087.wmv?e=1247617384&h=b171572900473556e71d585c8e4d3479

    and then the subsequent TCP segments follow.

    I can't speak to the XBOX or other standalone implementations but I assume they use delivery via HTTP as well. Interesting to note the windows media container for video content.

    Hope that helps.


  5. @Anonymous: thanks for the hint. A quick look into a public route server based on packet capture provided by volcker gave me all the answers I needed.

    @Steve: Thanks!

  6. Ivan,

    So what are the answers?

  7. So what are the answers i am curious too...

  8. Ivan Pepelnjak28 July, 2009 06:39

    See this post: http://blog.ioshints.info/2009/07/netflix-summary.html


You don't have to log in to post a comment, but please do provide your real name/URL. Anonymous comments might get deleted.