Today, many people are getting rid of their traditional cable service in favor of streaming sticks and smart TVs, like those offered by Roku. However, some are concerned with how much data these devices may use.
In general, you can expect your Roku to use anywhere from 500 MB to 16 GB of data per hour you stream, depending on several factors. The exact amount of data used will depend on what channels you’re streaming, as well as whether you’re playing videos in standard definition, high definition, or 4K.
Keep reading below to learn the average data usage for several popular streaming channels. We’ll also discuss how to limit the amount of data your Roku device uses per month!
Some of the channels that Roku has available will use more bandwidth (data) per hour than others. The definition that you stream your videos also plays a significant role. As you would probably expect, streaming in standard definition uses significantly less bandwidth than streaming in 4K does!
Some of the most popular Roku streaming platforms include:
- Amazon Prime Video
Each of these platforms’ data usages is significantly different, and some are definitely better bandwidth-saving options than others.
Netflix has the highest average data usage of all the platforms listed here. When you watch in standard definition, you use about 1 GB of bandwidth per hour. If you choose to watch your videos in high-definition, this number triples to 3 GB of bandwidth per hour.
As opposed to Netflix, Hulu has one of the smallest average data uses of these four platforms. If you watch a video in standard definition, you will only use around 680 MB of data per hour. If you opt for high definition instead, you only use a little bit more than Netflix in standard definition, at 1.3 GB per hour!
Amazon Prime Video has three levels of bandwidth usage, based on whether you choose standard definition, high definition, or 4K. In standard definition, you use approximately 800 MB per hour. If you choose high definition, you’ll use 2 GB per hour. If quality is important to you and you stream in 4K regularly, expect to use 6 GB of bandwidth per hour.
YouTube offers videos in many different quality levels, including:
Based on the video quality you choose, the average bandwidth used per hour can vary significantly. If you watch videos in 240p, the lowest quality available, you’ll only use 80 MB per hour. If you go one level up to 360p, this number increases to 300 MB. 480p uses approximately 500 MB per hour, while 720p uses 1.5 GB per hour.
When you get up to 1080p, you’ll be using 3 GB per hour. However, the highest by far is 4K definition, which can use up to a whopping 16 GB per hour.
Unless you have an unlimited bandwidth plan, your Internet Service Provider will likely charge you a fee every time you exceed your allotted data amount. In addition to these fines, you may also experience slower download speeds or blocked service. To avoid these penalties, take some steps to limit your data usage.
There are many ways to limit the amount of data your Roku device uses. The easiest way to do so is to always watch videos in the lowest definition possible. However, there are also a couple of built-in bandwidth-saving options that you may want to take advantage of.
While there is no option to set a bit rate override in your Roku settings menu, there is a trick that will allow you to do so. On your remote, press the Home button five times. Then press Rewind three times, and Fast Forward twice.
This sequence will bring up the Bit Rate Override panel, which will allow you to set your own bandwidth limits. If you do this, you’ll automatically be shown lower-quality videos.
According to Roku themselves, turning Bandwidth Saver on will save you a significant amount of data. When you have this on, your Roku device will automatically display a prompt after four hours of inactivity. It will ask you if you are still watching, and if you press “Keep Watching,” the prompt will disappear. If you don’t do anything, the device will stop the video and return you to the home screen.
To turn Bandwidth Saver on or off, you’ll need to first go to your settings. Then, choose “Network,” “Bandwidth Saver,” and toggle the option to on or off. By turning off anything being streamed while no one is watching, you can save your monthly bandwidth.
Different channels on a Roku device use different amounts of data, and the quality you stream in also plays a big role. To limit your monthly usage, try streaming in a lower quality, using Bandwidth Saver, or setting a bit rate override.
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