Netflix has announced the launch of its Open Connect Network, which will be the video provider's very own content delivery system.
The move was prompted by the explosion in the amount of video Netflix customers are watching on the company's Watch Instantly streaming network - approximately 2 billion hours of content during the fourth quarter.
Until now, Netflix has partnered with commercial content delivery networks (CDNs) to get its movies and TV shows to customers' devices. "Now, in addition to these general-purpose commercial CDNs, we are enabling ISPs to get Netflix video data from Open Connect, a single-purpose Netflix content delivery network we've established", Ken Florance, vice president of content delivery at Netflix, wrote in a blog post.
Florance pointed to YouTube, which has "long had its own content delivery network". As Netflix grows - 26 million global streaming accounts as of its last earnings report - Florance said "it now makes economic sense" for Netflix to have its own delivery network too.
At this point, Netflix will continue to work with commercial CDN partners, "but eventually most of our data will be served by Open Connect". At this point, about 5 percent of Netflix data is running via Open Connect.
"Like commercial CDNs, Open Connect will provide the Netflix data at no cost to the locations the ISP desires, or ISPs can choose to get the Netflix data at common internet exchanges", Florance said.
Netflix will also share its hardware design and the open source software components of the server. "We welcome commentary and improvements, which will be shared with the community with the goal of a faster, less expensive Internet for all", Florance said.
Last week, it was revealed that Netflix surged past Apple's iTunes to become the largest US online movie service in revenue terms, according to new data from IHS iSuppli, though that trajectory is expected to level off this year.