How Much Data Is Used When Streaming TV?

February 5, 2024 | Tachus Community

Each year, it’s becoming easier for cable TV customers to cancel their plans and switch to streaming.

Streaming platforms now provide a wide range of options for TV shows, movies, news, live events, sports, and channels. As a result, it is becoming increasingly convenient to replace cable with streaming.

The upside: it’s often less expensive, with month-to-month plans that you can pause and restart anytime. Many services that offer free trials allow you to customize them to suit your needs.

The downside: it can use a much higher amount of data than anything else you do on the internet. And if your internet comes with data caps, you may want to consider your streaming usage.

What are Data Caps?

Data Caps are restrictions that ISPs place on customers to artificially limit data usage. Most ISPs that enforce data caps will give users 1 to 1.5 terabytes of data per month. After a customer exceeds this data usage, ISPs will issue excessive fees, depending on how far they go over.

Keep an eye on data usage if you have a limit, especially when streaming television.

Check if your provider has data caps. If they do, determine how best to monitor your data usage. Make sure to stay within the limit each month. With Tachus, you don’t have to worry about exceeding a data cap since we offer unlimited data.

What is the Average Data Usage when Streaming TV?

Standard Definition (480p): .3GB – 1.2GB / Hour

High Definition (1080p): 1.2GB – 3.5GB / Hour

Ultra-High Definition (4K / 2160p): 6.6GB – 9GB / Hour

Data usage can be affected by many factors like resolution, bandwidth, bitrate and download speed.

How Much can I Stream with 1 Terabyte of Data?

Average Daily Streaming Hours:

Standard Definition (480p): 24

High Definition (1080p): 9.5 – 24

Ultra High Definition (4K / 2160p): 3.7 – 5

1 Terabyte equals 1000 Gigabytes. To calculate our Average Daily Streaming Hours, we divide our 1000 GB limit by the average gigabyte usage per hour for streaming. After that, we divide the result by 30 days.

Standard and High Definition (1080p) use less data, so you don’t need to worry too much about monitoring your usage. If you’re watching in 4K, keeping an eye on your usage will be much more important.

Of course, these are just estimates meant to help guide your decision. Plus, you’ll need to factor in any data you may use for work, gaming, communication, or anything else.

Limiting your internet data can be a frustrating process, that’s why Tachus offers unlimited, high-speed fiber internet for all our customers.

Streaming Services and Data Usage

Here’s a breakdown of how much data each service uses. If you have a data limit, this can help you avoid extra charges or slow internet from your provider.

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Netflix: Standard definition uses 0.3 GB, HD uses 1 GB, Full HD uses 3 GB, and Ultra HD (4K) uses 7 GB.

Peacock: NBC suggests a minimum download speed of 2.5 Mbps for HD. Full HD (1080p) consumes 1.1GB per hour, while UHD (4K) uses 7 GB per hour.

ESPN+: Sports fans can get an ideal live experience with at least 2 Mbps download speed. This equals about 0.9 GB per hour for HD. 4K is not yet available for ESPN+.

Sling TV: Sling TV uses about 3 GB per hour when viewing in HD. No 4K options are available for Sling TV.

DirecTV Stream: DirecTV Stream says viewers will get an ideal streaming experience with little to no buffering at 8 Mbps. This equals just over 3 GB per hour for HD streaming.

4K Streaming is only available on five channels for DirecTV Stream:

- Ch. 104 – 24/7 channel

- Ch. 105 – Live Sports

- Ch. 106 – Live Sports

- Ch. 107 – Pay Per View

- Ch. 108 – Pay Per View

FuboTV: SD (480p) streaming 480p uses about 1.2 GB per hour, HD (720p) uses about 1.6 GB per hour, Full HD (1080) uses around 2 GB per hour. UHD (4K) uses just over 7 GB per hour but it’s only available on a handful of channels.

Amazon Prime Video: According to Amazon Prime Video, you get the best streaming experience if you use at least 1 Mbps for SD videos and 5 Mbps for HD.

Prime Video uses around 0.45 GB per hour for SD and 2.25 GB per hour for HD. UHD (4K) can average between 6-7 GB per hour.

Apple TV: SD (480p) uses approximately 0.7 GB per hour, HD (720p) uses up to 2.5 GB per hour, HD (1080p) uses up to 3 GB per hour, and UHD (4K) uses about 8 GB per hour.

YouTube: The recommended speed minimum for SD is 1.1 Mbps. HD (720p) has a minimum of 2.5 Mbps. For Full HD (1080p), it’s 5 Mbps. A minimum of 20 Mbps is recommended for 4K, and it uses on average 7.2GB per hour.

This means just under 0.5 GB per hour for SD, approximately 1.1 GB per hour for HD, 2.25 GB per hour for Full HD, and 9 GB per hour for 4K.

Disney+: Streaming on SD with Disney Plus uses about 0.7 GB per hour, while HD uses about 2 GB per hour. UHD (4K) uses approximately 7.7 GB per hour.

Hulu: 1.35 GB per hour to stream Hulu’s catalogue in HD, 3.6 GB per hour to live stream, and 7.2 GB per hour for 4K content.

The recommended minimum speed is 3 Mbps to stream shows and movies, 8 Mbps for live streams, and 16 Mbps for 4K streaming.

Max: The recommended speed to stream HBO Max is 5 Mbps for HD content. For 4K streaming, you would need at least 50 Mbps.

Max uses about 2.25 GB per hour for HD streaming, and 7.7 GB per hour for 4K.

It’s important to note that Max doesn’t offer users the choice to select their streaming quality. Max will automatically adjust stream quality based on your network’s speed and bandwidth.

Which Streaming Services Offer 4K?

4K streaming is available on these Services:

- Netflix

- Peacock

- Amazon Prime Video

- Apple TV

- Disney+

- Hulu

- Max

- fuboTV (only for certain live events)

- DirectTV Stream (only on certain channels)

- YouTube TV (On-demand and Live events)

4K Streaming is not available on:


- Sling TV

The Best Way to Stream in 4K

Utilizing fiber internet is the best way to stream in 4K. Since 4K is very data intensive, a consistent high-speed connection is an absolute must.

A wired connection from your streaming device directly into your router is best for avoiding any lag, buffering or stuttering.

How to Stream While Staying Under Your Data Limit

If you have a data cap with your home internet provider, it’s important to be mindful of how much data you use when you watch TV or movies, especially when streaming in Full HD or 4K. Stick to SD and HD for most of your content and use 4K streaming sparingly and remember to track how much data you’re using.

There are several ways you can track your data usage, such as using your ISP’s own tracker or tracking it yourself using your operating system or your Wi-Fi router’s tool.

Are Data Caps Necessary?

No, data caps are not necessary.

But that doesn’t stop many ISPs from artificially restricting their subscriber’s data usage.

In the past, ISPs would say that limited bandwidth was the reason for imposing data restrictions on customers. Now, as IT infrastructure has rapidly advanced, costs to expand and maintain bandwidth for ISPs has become miniscule.

Data limits are often criticized for their arbitrary restrictions. And due to lack of competition in certain areas, consumers are often left without choice in who their service provider is.

Unlike other competitors, Tachus provides unlimited internet data. Which means you’ll never have to worry about exceeding your data cap.

Unlimited Data

If you’re a Tachus customer, data usage isn’t a problem for you at all. Because Tachus offers unlimited data on all our internet plans, customers can stream all they want without ever worrying how close you are to hitting a data cap. Our unlimited data, in addition to our blazing-fast speeds, makes Tachus the perfect partner for streaming.

But if Tachus isn’t yet in your community and you’re using another internet service provider, there’s a chance you might be subject to a data limit.

Want to enjoy all the benefits of streaming without worrying about how much data you’re using? Join the thousands of families who are ditching their cable plans, and streaming TV on Tachus’ unlimited data plans! See if Tachus is in your area and learn how you can bring us into your community.