Americans are watching more and more streaming video. If you are a fan, you are likely watching Netflix, YouTube, Hulu or Vimeo. Streaming services can easily gobble up large parts of your bandwidth diet. But when it comes to Netflix, a few simple user settings can save you plenty of gigabytes without downgrading your viewing experience.
Broadband analytics firm Sandvine estimates that Netflix and YouTube combined account for more than half of the “downstream” traffic in the U.S. From a local standpoint, BendBroadband estimates that Netflix alone accounts for 60 percent of the company’s broadband traffic during peak hours.
It takes a lot of bandwidth to move a one-hour TV show or a two-hour movie from Netflix’s servers to your TV screen via the Internet. Depending on the quality level you have chosen, you can expect to go through an average of 2.3 GB an hour watching an HD movie (only 1.0 GB/hour for a standard-definition movie).
A couple of weekend movies can quickly cut into your broadband usage. However, there are ways to curb usage and enjoy your favorite movies without losing the quality of your viewing experience.
In a recent blog article about BendBroadband’s increased usage caps, residential marketing director Mark Hobbs noted that customers can lower their Netflix video quality settings without any noticeable drop in viewing experience.
“You can change the settings on many of the video streaming services, including Netflix and YouTube,” Hobbs says. “I did this myself for Netflix through the settings on my account – going for “medium” download (the default is unlimited). It made a huge difference on my data consumption but had no impact on the quality of the Netflix video.”
Netflix offers several video settings to help you manage your data usage. The company offers three video quality settings: good quality (up to 0.3 GB per hour), better quality (up to 0.7 GB/hour) and best quality (2.3 GB/hour for HD).
If you want to experiment with the Netflix user settings, try the following:
- Log in to your Netflix account.
- Click on Your Account and then click Help.
- Select the Manage Video Quality option.
You will see several options for viewing your videos, as shown in the screen displayed below.
To check your current Internet usage, go to bendbroadband.com, find “My Account” on the top navigation bar, select Internet Usage, and sign in with your email and password.
You may also want to sign up for automatic usage notification. Log in to Internet Usage, click on “Manage,” accept the user agreement and then select the usage allowance intervals where you would like to receive notifications. As your bandwidth usage reaches the specified interval, we’ll send you an update.