While I still don’t come close to the Comcast bandwidth cap of of 250 GB per month, I’ve noticed a significant increase in my household’s broadband usage since Roku pushed out their new Netflix UI. The new interface makes it easy to browse content by genre, and, most critically, allows users to play any selection instantly without first queuing it up on a PC. As a direct result, I’ve started watching more – the short-lived Dresden Files and the first season of Friday Night Lights, for example. Take a look at the spike on my household’s Comcast bandwidth meter. June usage already doubles May, and we’re not at the end of the month yet.
It’s worth noting that the UI upgrade didn’t arrive without problems. Right after the update, the new Netflix app crashed often; an issue the company gracefully managed by offering users an unsolicited 5% credit toward the next month’s bill. I’ve since heard a plausible if unconfirmed explanation of what caused the difficulties, namely the fact that the new guide requests a lot more data during subscriber usage, which initially put a strain on the delivery system.