How much data does Netflix use?
The table below shows our data.
|Resolution||Netflix estimates||Our measurements (approximately)|
Netflix estimates:300MB per hour
Our measurements (approximately):200-350MB per hour
Netflix estimates:700MB per hour
Our measurements (approximately):650MB-750MB per hour
Netflix estimates:3GB per hour
Our measurements (approximately):2.8GB-3.3GB per hour
Our measurements (approximately):4.2GB per hour
Resolution:4K (with and without HDR)
Netflix estimates:7GB per hour
Our measurements (approximately):6.5GB-11.5GB per hour
Curiously, Netflix doesn’t have data estimates for its 4K content with HDR, although it does say that 4K streaming consumes about 7GB per hour. However, Netflix does recommend 25mbps connection for 4K HDR content. That isn’t any different than Netflix’s recommendations for normal UHD, so we don’t think it takes that much extra data for HDR versus non-HDR content when you hit the 4K barrier.
How we measured the data
We looked at three sources for our data here. Netflix has its own site with its own data usage estimates. We also did our own testing using free versions of Glasswire on both a 1080p Windows laptop as well as a Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus. That provided pretty much all of the data we needed up through 1440p, the native resolution of the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus. We used Netflix’s account settings and some other settings tricks to get our data.
HDR content and 4K content was a little bit trickier. For that, I used an Xbox One X. You can turn HDR on and off in the console’s video settings and the Xbox One X’s network settings has a helpful bandwidth usage tool. We measured how much data the Xbox used on its own, and then subtracted that from our usage data after watching a few episodes of Marco Polo in 4K with HDR.
Our estimates were extremely close to Netflix's data estimates.
All of our measurements are approximate. Netflix has both 24fps and 60fps content as well as various bitrates. Changes in frame rate and bitrate can affect data usage significantly. It’s also a little more difficult to control the resolution compared to something like YouTube.
Saving data on Netflix
There are a few ways to curb your Netflix data usage from your computer, phone, and, in some cases, your TV. The options are all straightforward. Another option we won’t list below is the option to simply not sign up for Netflix’s UHD package. You are automatically restricted to 1080p, but you also lose simultaneous streams so it’s not a great option for families.
On your browser:
- Log into your Netflix account on any web browser.
- Navigate to the account page and and then your Playback Settings.
- You can select between Auto, Low, Medium, or High quality. You can also enable or disable the setting to play the next episode automatically.
- Changes may take some time to reflect on your account.
On your mobile:
- Open your Netflix app and navigate to the More tab at the bottom. You select the App Settings option from there.
- Tap the Video Playback setting. You have four options, including Automatic (default), Wi-Fi Only, Save Data, and Maximum Data.
- The Automatic setting balances good video quality with data usage and uses about 1GB of data per four hours of streaming. Wi-Fi only prevents Netflix from using your data plan and Save Data restricts data usage to about 1GB per six hours of use. The Maximum Data option uses as much data as humanly possible by Netflix.
On your TV:
This one is a little bit tricky but doable. Roku, Android TV, Apple TV, and Fire TV all have settings that restrict resolution to 1080p and that can cut out all of that extra data usage from 4K and HDR. Smart TVs usually have a standalone Netflix app. The one that came on my LG B7 didn’t have any resolution settings but it may on other TVs.
Netflix is one of the world’s most popular premium streaming services. If you know some tricks we missed, tell us about it in the comments!