How Much Mobile Data Does Netflix Use?

What is watching Netflix on a phone?

Netflix is one of the most popular video streaming platforms. With the Netflix app, you can watch movies, TV series, and other shows that are either exclusive to the platform or that has been adapted to it.

Netflix is available on the web as well as the app, which has an Android and iOS version. That means you can watch Netflix content on pretty much any device, from a computer to a Smart TV to your smart phone and more.

Platforms such as Netflix are also referred to as Over-the-Top (OTT) video streaming platforms. OTT’s present consumers with a choice for “cutting the cord”, which basically means getting rid of your cable or satellite TV setup. In some cases, this option can save you some money because you have the option to pick and choose what programs or content you want to watch, as opposed to signing up for a cable TV package that bundles in a bunch of channels that you’d probably never watch. As you can imagine, the savings have resulted in their popularity, and pay TV subscriptions continue to decline while OTT subscriptions increase.

Pay TV vs OTT.

Pay TV subs decline, OTT subs increase. Source

Today, there are a lot of OTT platforms. Others such as YouTube TV have a broader range than Netflix. In fact others may have a full lineup of actual cable TV channels, but you’d likely have to have an active cable subscription to access those channels, in addition to the OTT’s subscription.

With Netflix, however, no cable TV subscription is needed. All you need is mobile data and your active Netflix subscription. However, the available content excludes cable TV content, limiting your options to the Subscription Video on Demand (SVoD) content that’s available on the platform itself. Similar OTT’s exist, such as Amazon Prime, YouTube, and others, but Netflix is a giant in this SVoD arena, holding on to over 70 percent of the global demand in the market.

Global SVoD demand.

Netflix is king in global SVoD market. Source

As stated, Netflix can be watched on a number of digital devices. Watching Netflix on your phone, like other platforms, requires an internet connection. This could be done over WiFi or with your mobile data. The mobile data option means that streaming Netflix videos will use up your plan data, which means you’d have to factor that into your monthly expenses.

How much mobile data does Netflix use per hour? What factors influence how much mobile data is used?

In general, streaming HD (High Definition) video on your phone consumes around 3GB per hour regardless of the OTT in question.

Streaming data consumption.

Streaming HD videos on your phone could consume 3GB per hour. Source: Whatphone

Thankfully, Netflix gives you several options to control the amount of data you spend streaming per hour, and the options are based on the video quality:

  • Low – this consumes around 300MB (Megabytes) per hour.
  • Medium – SD: this consumes around 700MB per hour.
  • High – HD streaming consumes around 3 GB per hour, while Ultra HD (UHD) consumes around 7 GB per hour.

Netflix also provides an “Auto” option that adjusts your data consumption/video quality automatically, based on the speed of your internet connection.

You can adjust to the data/quality option you want on the Netflix website or the app. Here’s how:

On the Web: Login to your Netflix account > Select the profile you want to adjust (Kids profile can’t be adjusted) > Click “Account” > Find “My Profile” and select “Playback Settings” > Choose the data option you want from the list > Click “Save”. This method takes around 8 hours to become effective, and remains effective across all platforms for the particular profile in question.

On the App: Open your Netflix App > Tap the Menu icon on the top left or top right (depending on your device) > Tap “Cellular Data Usage” > Choose the data option you want from the list.

Do any phone plans include data for Netflix?

While streaming Netflix on your phone consumes a lot of mobile data, some telcos offer plans that ease the data-draining pain a bit.

Optus’ Prepaid Epic Data plans come with up to 10GB of streaming data per month for Netflix and other streaming services,after which your plan data will be used. You have to have a positive MyData balance in order to take advantage of this freebie.

Vodafone also offers a solution with their Vodafone Pass add-on. Vodafone Pass for video streaming costs $15, and allows unlimited Netflix streaming at 1.5Mbps without affecting your plan data.

Data-free streaming allows subscribers to stream content on certain platforms without using their plan data. Although this option exists with telcos such as Telstra and Boost Mobile, Netflix isn’t included as a data-free streaming app. However, some Telstra plans will throttle your internet connection speed to 1.5Mbps after your plan data is exhausted, allowing you to continue streaming without any overage charges.

Final words – Netflix is huge!

Netflix is a very popular streaming platform. In fact, Netflix alone accounts for 15 percent of the world’s entire bandwidth capacity. The platform boasts of over 139 million users, averaging around an hour and eleven minutes of content streaming per user per day.

Factoring these numbers means that if you’re a Netflix user, you probably want to watch your data. A good idea would be to purchase a bigger data plan with enough data to accommodate your Netflix binge. Thankfully, the cost of mobile data is falling fast and data inclusions are increasing. Also remember to adjust your data usage settings in the Netflix app or on the Netflix website.

Neil Aitken

Having worked in 3 countries for 4 telcos on both voice and data products, Neil is in a position to give you the inside track. Get beyond the marketing messages to the best plan for you.