How Much Usage Does Streaming Video on Netflix Use?

By Matt Skaggs

Netflix is available on a plethora of devices.
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Netflix's streaming video service allows you to enjoy thousands of movies and TV shows on your computer, tablet, gaming console or your smartphone. Depending on your data plan for the device you use, you may want to avoid using too much data as you stream videos. Netflix provides some information about data usage expectations for video viewing, and you have some control over the video quality in your Netflix account.

Bandwidth Requirements

To stream movies using Netflix, your Internet connection must meet certain requirements. Internet connections are measured in megabits per second (Mbps) and kilobits per second (Kbps). Practically any broadband connection (DSL or cable) can support streaming Netflix content regardless of your Internet Service Provider (ISP), and you can even use 3G or 4G data connections for Netflix. Of course increasingly fast Internet connections allow you to view smoother, higher-quality playback than otherwise. If you're unsure what your Internet connection speed is, you can find out by contacting your ISP's customer service department or by checking your account on your ISP's website.

Video Quality

The quality of the video you watch has a direct effect on your data usage -- the higher the quality, the more data you'll use. Normally Netflix will use as much data as your Internet connection allows to provide the highest-quality video possible for you. Netflix states for the lowest-quality video playback, you must have a 0.5Mbps connection. For improved quality, you need 1.5Mbps; for DVD-quality you need 3Mbps; and for full HD video viewing you must have 5Mbps.

Controlling Usage

Netflix does allow you to specify one of three options for video quality: Good, Better and Best. These options can be especially helpful if you want to reduce bandwidth, particularly if your data plan is based on usage. The "Good" quality will use approximately 300MB per hour of viewing; the "Better" quality will use approximately 700MB per hour and the "Best" quality will use approximately 1GB, or, if you view a video in HD, "Best" can use as much as 2.3GB in an hour. You can change this in your "Account Settings" page.


Streaming video content uses a high amount of bandwidth. If you choose to view Netflix movies using a plan that charges you based on usage, such as a 3G or 4G plan on a mobile device, you could incur extra fees or receive a high data bill. One method of reducing data usage is the video quality options Netflix provides in your account settings.