Netflix’s overall electricity usage jumped 84% in 2019, outpacing subscriber growth

  • Netflix
  • Tuesday, 11 Feb 2020

Netflix's reported energy usage does not account for the electricity required by consumers themselves to watch video on TVs or other devices. — Netflix

LOS ANGELES: Netflix disclosed that its total energy consumption in 2019 was 451,000 megawatt-hours – enough to power around 40,000 average American homes for a full year.

The streamer revealed energy-usage figures its inaugural Environmental Social Governance (ESG) report, in which it also disclosed which content it has pulled from the service in specific countries following government takedown demands over the last five years.

Netflix reports energy use in two categories: electricity it uses itself and power needed to deliver its global streaming service through third parties like Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud. According to the company, 100% of its estimated direct and indirect non-renewable power use was "matched with renewable energy certificates and carbon offsets in 2019".

Last year, electricity that Netflix used directly in its own offices and studios, including the telecommunications facilities that are part of its content delivery network, was about 94,000 megawatt-hours. Indirect energy use (including Netflix servers co-located at internet service providers) was about 357,000 megawatt-hours in 2019.

All told, that's up 84% from the 245,000 megawatt-hours Netflix said it used in 2018 (51,000 MWhs in direct and 194,000 MWhs indirect usage). That means the company's energy consumption far outpaced its user growth: In 2019, Netflix's worldwide paid subscriber base grew 20%, to 167.1 million the end of last year.

"Beyond our renewable energy commitments, we are working to be as sustainable as we can in our operations," the company says in the ESG report. On that front, Netflix has adopted industry-wide production practices relating to energy use as members of the PGA's Green Production Guide and Albert in the UK. The company also said it offset the majority of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with employee air travel in 2019 by investing in emission-reduction projects.

In addition, the company said it tries to build awareness of environmental issues through its content, citing David Attenborough's docuseries Our Planet, which is supported by the World Wildlife Fund.

According to Netflix, it supports renewable energy projects in 20 countries (including the US, Canada, the UK, Brazil, Mexico, China, India and Turkey) and 15 US states (Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas).

Note that Netflix's reported energy usage does not account for the electricity required by consumers themselves to watch video on TVs or other devices. The estimate that the company's energy consumption last year would power some 40,000 US households is based on the US Energy Information Administration's calculation that average annual electricity consumption for a US residential utility customer was 10,972 kilowatt-hours in 2018. – Variety/Reuters

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