Many of our subscribers are curious to know how our service works streaming video on services such as Netflix and YouTube, and how much data music streaming services consume. The good news is that these services work great with our Exede12 and ViaSat-1 service. The flip side is that video uses a fair amount of data, so you can go through a 10 GB data allowance rather quickly by watching a lot of video.
There's a pretty big difference between the kind of video you get on YouTube compared to what’s served up on Netflix or Hulu -- another popular streaming service. YouTube videos are typically short and only consume an average of about 6 megabytes of data per minute. Using some quick math, you can see that a 3-minute YouTube video = approx. 18 megabytes or 0.018 GB. You could watch 100 of these and use only about 1.8 GB of data — or less than 1/5 of your monthly allowance on a 10 GB plan.
That’s not so bad, and the reality is that lower-definition video like this typically won’t chew up your monthly data allowance — unless you’re really hooked on those cat videos.
Netflix and similar services are another story, since they serve up video in much higher definition. A standard (SD) definition movie or TV show on Netflix or Hulu averages about 0.75 GBs per hour, while a high definition (HD) movie is up to 3.0 GB/hour. If you’ve got a 10 GB/month plan, it’s easy to see you’ll be hitting your data allowance limit before long at this rate.
What to do? One option is to change the settings on your video streaming playback. On Netflix, for example, you’d navigate to “Your account” and then to “Playback settings.” If it’s set on “high” or “auto,” you may want to change it to “medium.” This will allow you to consume less data and watch more video. Netflix allows each subscriber to have up to five user profiles; you'll have to change these settings for each profile on your account. You can also opt in to the Video Data Extender, which automatically optimizes video to 480p (standard definition). Turn on the VDE on Your Account.
You can do the same on YouTube, and other video services have similar adjustment capability. You can also tweak the settings on each individual YouTube video by clicking on the gear icon (see below).
If you use Amazon Fire Stick, you can also monitor your data consumption and change video settings to consume less data. Learn how here.
If you find you’re bumping up against your data allowance on a regular basis due to video, you can upgrade to a bigger plan, Buy More data, watch video during the Free Zone or tweak your habits a bit. Note: The Free Zone comes with Classic, Evolution, Essential and select Liberty plans only.How about music streaming? Music streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music and Pandora use far less data. You'll use about 1 GB after listening to music for about eight hours at the highest-quality setting.
Still too much? With the exception of Pandora's free service, all major streaming services give you the option of listening offline so you won't consume any data. Most of them also let you change the stream quality settings; a lower setting - typically indistinguishable to the ear - reduces the amount of data used.