The Impact of Streaming TV on Internet Usage

The Impact of Streaming TV on Internet Usage

Streaming TV has taken the world by storm since the introduction of streaming services in 2005 with YouTube. Since then, streaming has become the norm, with an array of platforms allowing you to watch live tv through the internet while having access to films and tv series.

Using these services can result in larger amounts of data consumption over a brief period, which can put a strain on your internet connection, and you might need to check if your package can handle the download and upload speeds needed.

However, the amount of data consumption does fluctuate depending on what resolution your broadcast is streaming in, due to higher resolutions draining more data at a quicker rate.


What TV streaming factors impact data usage?

In terms of data usage, there are numerous factors that you must be aware of when TV streaming, especially if using capped data so that viewing your favourite show doesn’t drain all your data for the month.


Video quality

When it comes to streaming, if you want to be data savvy, it is essential to know that different streaming qualities will ultimately determine how much data your stream consumes.

When watching a stream, there are numerous resolutions to choose from, this being 240p, 480p, 720p, 1080p, and 4K.

On average, these are the amount of data consumptions that occur for each resolution:

  • 240p- Uses around 225MB of data usage per hour. 
  • 480p- Uses around 562.5MB of data usage per hour. 
  • 720p- Uses around 1856.25MB of data usage per hour. 
  • 1080p- Uses around 3.04GB of data usage per hour. 
  • 4K- Uses around 15.98GB of data usage per hour.


Screen size

Screen size does not influence the amount of data you use from streaming. There’s a common misconception that when streaming something on your television, you may think it uses more because it is on a bigger screen. However, it all comes down to the resolution of the stream and the quality you watch it.


Streaming platform

Streaming platforms can cause heavy data usage, so this is something to be aware of if you plan to stream regularly as it could incur bigger charges or use up your data allowance. If you watch your show or film in full HD, you could use up to 3GB of data in an hour.


What is the data usage for popular TV streaming platforms for different gadgets?

There are various streaming services out there on the internet that are there to compete while doing the same job, which is to allow users to stream their content.

However, providers can end up using different amounts of data usage depending on the quality of the stream.



Netflix is one of the most popular streaming services in the world. With over 230 million subscribers alone in 2022 (Netflix: number of subscribers worldwide 2022 | Statista), it is available across numerous devices from tablets to laptops to phones and smart TVs.

Resolution Data usage (per hour)
Low 0.3GB
Medium 0.7GB
High 3GB


This bandwidth usage is the same across all devices that you can access the streaming platform on.


Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime is another powerhouse in the streaming service industry with around 13.12 million households subscribed in the United Kingdom alone. (Amazon Prime Video households in the UK 2022 | Statista).

Resolution Data usage (per hour)
Low 0.38GB
Medium 1.4GB
High 6GB


Disney Plus

Disney + is one of the newer streaming services available but has quickly emerged as one of the go-to services in the past couple of years, with over 130 million subscribers since it began in 2020 (Disney Plus Revenue and Usage Statistics (2023) – Business of Apps).

Resolution Data usage (per hour)
Low 0.7GB
Medium 2GB
High 7GB


Five Tips to Reduce Data Consumption While Streaming TV

Keeping your data usage intact can be a nightmare when streaming your favourite tv shows/films. However, there are ways where you can reduce and maintain minimal amounts of data usage when using streaming platforms.

  • Download instead of streaming.
  • Use a lower resolution.
  • Turn your app/device off fully when not in use.
  • Monitor your data caps.


Lower your video quality settings

That amount of data you use on streaming platforms comes down to the quality of the video. Higher resolution will drain your data. Therefore, it is essential to make sure that if you are using data to stream shows, then make sure it is in a lower resolution, especially if you plan to watch something for longer.


Download your content for offline watching

Instead of constantly streaming, have you ever thought of downloading your content instead?

At first, it may look like some of your data has disappeared, but if you plan to watch the same content multiple times then, in the long run, you could be saving data.


Monitor and track your data usage

Most service providers allow you to keep track of data usage through an online account, which should indicate the amount you have for the month, how much you have used, and how much you have left.

Furthermore, this allows you to monitor the data you are using, especially when streaming content.


Use a different streaming platform

If the film or tv show you want to watch is available across multiple platforms, then it could be worth researching which one would save you the most data if you were to stream it.

Amazon Prime or Netflix in SD quality use around 0.3-0.4 GB per hour, whereas streaming on Disney + uses significantly more with 0.7GB per hour.


Upgrade your internet plan to accommodate for higher data usage

Someone who streams a lot using data could benefit from an upgraded internet plan to a higher data package.

A higher data package will allow streaming for lengthier periods, so if you know you will be regularly streaming it could be a better option for you.

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FAQs: The Impact of Streaming TV on Internet Usage

It depends on the resolution at which you stream content. Netflix’s data usage per hour can vary between 0.3 (low)- 3GB (high) and is one of the more data-efficient streaming services available.
Yes. Lowering video quality affects the amount of data usage, and you could save around 2.7-6.3GB per hour if you stream your content in SD rather than HD and 4K.
When streaming tv, you can always keep track of your data usage by logging into your internet provider’s website or app, where you can see your data cap and how much your apps use.
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