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What internet speed is needed to watch Sling TV and Netflix ?

Streaming online video generally needs constant 3 Megabits/second or more of available bandwidth. Watching videos in standard quality uses about 1 Gigabyte per hour, while HD quality uses about 3 Gigabytes per hour.

Many broadband users are cutting ties with traditional TV and replacing it with online streaming services like Sling TV, Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, Spotify, etc. Because of this ever-increasing streaming trend, broadband users are reaching their home internet and mobile data caps faster than ever before. High-definition video streaming and ultra-high definition in particular can be a huge bandwidth hog. Until "unlimited" data really becomes such, we should be aware of the actual numbers to make informed decisions. So how much bandwidth/data does streaming actually use ?

It really depends on quality and content, here are some general sustained bandwidth guidelines:
1 Mbps - minimum recommended bandwidth for streaming video.
3 Mbps - recommended for streaming standard definition (480p) video
5 Mbps - minimum recommended for streaming high definition (720p/1080p) video
25 Mbps - recommended for streaming ultra-high definition (4K) video

Sling TV
It uses between 3 and 5 Mbps if streaming in HD depending on content, with sports channels like ESPN with a lot of movement requiring higher bandwidth. Setting the quality to "medium" reduces the bandwidth usage to about 1 GB per hour.

Netflix uses between 400MB and 4.7GB per hour, averaging about 1-2GB/hour in our experience. The bandwidth requirement depends on the watched content quality and the data usage settings. The service allows for four data usage settings, as follows:
"Low" data usage mode - 0.3 GB per hour
"Medium" - 0.7 GB to 1 GB per hour, standard definition video
"High" - up to 3 GB per hour for HD, 7 GB per hour for Ultra HD or 3D.
"Auto" - adjusts bandwidth usage automatically based on what your connection can handle

Uses about 1 Mbps for SD video streaming, ~2Mbps for 720p HD video streaming.

Amazon Prime
Uses ~0.9GB per hour for SD video streaming, 2GB/hr for HD streaming.

YouTube bandwidth can vary depending on the source. It is mostly dependent on the video resolution, but also on the bitrate of the source video. YouTube streams at up to 4.5Mbps for 1080p videos. Below is average bandwidth consumed per hour of streaming at different resolutions:
480p - ~400MB per hour
720p - 800MB to 1GB per hour.
1080p - 1.3GB to 1.5GB per hour

As a general rule, live streaming services like Sling TV have a bit higher bandwidth requirement than on-demand streaming video like Netflix.
If your target video streaming requires a sustained bandwidth of 3 Mbps, a 5+ Mbps internet connection is more realistic to be able to reach that goal consistently.

  User Reviews/Comments:
by anonymous - 2018-10-07 20:15
The fact that some of these are in Mbps, and some are in GB/hr makes comparison unnecessarily difficult.
by Philip - 2018-10-08 07:55
Connection speeds are typically measured in Megabits per second (Mbps, Mbit/s), while amount of data is typically measured in Megabytes or Gigabytes. We try to offer both measurements.

1 Megabit per second (1 Million bits per second) would transfer ~ 450 Megabytes in an hour (0.45 Gigabytes).

We have a "Bits/Bytes Conversion Calculator" that could help with those conversions:
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