How Much Data Is Used When Streaming TV?
Each year it’s becoming easier for cable TV customers to cancel their plans and switch to streaming for all of their live TV and on-demand content. As more platforms offer the most popular TV shows and movies, impressive channel lineups, news, live events, and sports, it’s becoming less of a challenge for anyone to replace their cable plans with streaming ones.
See for yourself by going to tachus.com/tv, where we’ve partnered with MyBundle.TV to create a guide to help you shop for on-demand and live TV streaming services that are perfect for you. Just take a short quiz, and you’ll be matched with several options that can replace your cable TV plan. All you need to get started is a fast, reliable Internet connection.
On-demand video streaming services like Netflix and Hulu are offering a more robust selection of TV shows and movies, and live TV services like Sling Blue and Sling Orange are offering a wide variety of channels including sports and news. Some services even offer unlimited DVR.
The upside of streaming: it’s more affordable, plans are month-to-month and can be paused and restarted anytime, many services offer free trials, and it’s more customizable, allowing you to use any combination of live and on-demand platforms.
The downside: it can use a much higher amount of data than anything else you do on the Internet.
Keep reading to learn how much data streaming uses, and what that might mean for you.
Streaming With Data Caps
If you’re a Tachus customer, data usage isn’t a problem for you at all. Because Tachus offers unlimited data on all our home Internet plans, customers can stream all they want without ever worrying how close you are to hitting a data cap. Our unlimited data, in addition to our blazing-fast speeds, makes Tachus the perfect partner for streaming.
But if Tachus isn’t yet in your community and you’re using another Internet service provider, there’s a chance you might be subject to a data limit.
Find out if your provider uses data caps. If they do, learn how you can track your data usage and stay under your limit each month.
If your provider has data caps, streaming may be what you’ll have to keep an eye on the most. Here are the most popular streaming services, and how much data they use.
Streaming Services and Data Usage
Here’s a breakdown of how much data each streaming service uses. If your stuck with a data limit, hopefully this can avoid being charged overages or being throttled by your Internet provider.
Netflix: According to Netflix, standard definition streaming uses approximately 0.3 GB of data per hour, HD (720p) uses 1 GB per hour, and Full HD (1080p) uses 3 GB per hour.
Peacock: The NBC streaming service recommends a minimum download speed of 2.5 Mbps for HD streaming.
This means using approximately 1.1 GB per hour lets you stream with little to no buffering.
ESPN+: Sports fans can get an ideal live stream experience with at least 2 Mbps. This equals about 0.9 GB per hour.
Sling TV: Sling TV uses about 3 GB per hour when streaming HD.
DirecTV Stream: DirecTV Stream says viewers will get an ideal streaming experience with little to no buffering at 8 Mbps. This equals just over 3 GB per hour.
fuboTV: SD (480p) streaming 480p uses about 1.2 GB per hour, HD (720p) uses about 1.6 GB per hour, Full HD (1080) uses around 2 GB per hour, and UHD (4K) uses just over 7 GB per hour.
Amazon Prime Video: According to Amazon Prime Video, you get the best streaming experience if you use at least 1 Mbps for SD videos and 5 Mbps for HD.
This means 0.45 GB per hour for SD and 2.25 GB per hour for HD.
Apple TV: SD (480p) uses approximately 0.7 GB per hour, HD (720p) uses up to 2.5 GB per hour, HD (1080p) uses up to 3 GB per hour, and UHD (4K) uses about 8 GB per hour.
YouTube: The recommended speed minimum for SD is 1.1 Mbps. HD (720p) has a minimum of 2.5 Mbps. For Full HD (1080p), it’s 5 Mbps. A minimum of 20 Mbps is recommended for 4K.
This means just under 0.5 GB per hour for SD, approximately 1.1 GB per hour for HD, 2.25 GB per hour for Full HD, and 9 GB per hour for 4K.
Disney+: Streaming on SD with Disney Plus uses about 0.7 GB per hour, while HD uses about 2 GB per hour. UHD (4K) uses approximately 7.7 GB per hour.
Hulu: The recommended minimum speed is 3 Mbps to stream shows and movies, 8 Mbps for live streams, and 16 Mbps for 4K streaming.
This equals 1.35 GB per hour to stream Hulu’s catalogue, 3.6 GB per hour to live stream, and 7.2 GB per hour for 4K content.
HBO Max: The recommended speed to stream HBO Max is 5 Mbps for HD content. For 4K streaming, you would need at least 50 Mbps.
This equates to 2.25 GB per hour for HD streaming, and 22.5 GB per hour for 4K.
While this hourly usage alone looks tiny compared to the 1.2 TB data caps some providers are enforcing, keep in mind that it can add up very easily—especially if you also work from home, or have multiple family members who stream or game.
Streaming While Staying Under Your Data Limit
If you have a data cap with your home Internet provider, it’s important to be mindful of how much data you use when you watch TV or movies, especially when streaming in Full HD or 4K. Stick to SD and HD for most of your content and use 4K streaming sparingly, and remember to track how much data you’re using.
There are several ways you can track your data usage, such as using your ISP's own tracker or tracking it yourself using your operating system or your Wi-Fi router's tool.
Want to enjoy all the benefits of streaming without worrying about how much data you’re using? Join the thousands of families who are ditching their cable plans, and streaming TV on Tachus’ unlimited data plans! See if Tachus is in your area, and learn how you can bring us into your community.