Know How Much Data Does Streaming Media Use

One of the best thing about our smartphones has to be the online streaming that we have at our disposal daily 24*7. Unlimited media lays free and within our reach to be consumed, and our need to savour data knows no bounds. If you are any of the binger that we expect most of our generation to be, you must also have been slapped with an internet bill that was way beyond your set budget. Yes, that sting hurts and here is how we can help you to limit your usage.

streaming data use, how much data does streaming media use.

As they say prevention is better than cure, we find it extremely important to stay up to date with the bare minimum knowledge of data usage – how and where it gets used the most. Given that we are past behind the age of the very first iPhone, we take it for granted that you are using your smartphone to binge on YouTube, Spotify, Netflix – you name it.


And the fact that most of these services stream HD quality videos also does not hurt. But it does take a toll on your data consumption. No one can deny the fact that these smartphones in fact seem to have been made to ensure the best streaming experience available. And all these streaming apps snug so well with out phones that most of us totally rely on them for full some entertainment. Thus it makes sense that you educate yourself with your streaming apps and their data eating limits. Read on to have a basic idea of how much big a hole your favorite streaming apps be it audio or video burn in your data pocket.


Audio Streaming Services

Please note that some Audio Streaming Services offer super high quality streaming music, but most of them classify their services in three parts – low, normal and high. The number of bits that are being per second transmitted to your phone digitally while streaming music also stays the same for most of these services under these three different categories. Below is a classification of how much data is going to be consumed while using some of the most used music streaming services.

audio streaming services, streaming services, how to audio streaming

If you are streaming music under the LOW quality header, you are consuming around 96 kbps. That means your streaming is costing you 0.72 MB in a minute or a nominal 43.2 MB for an hour.

While streaming an audio under the NORMAL quality header is going to cost you around 60 kbps. This typically rounds off to you using 1.20 MB for a minute usage and 72 MB consumption in an hour.

On the other hand, if you like your audio streamed under the quality header HIGH, you consume a straight 320 kbps. This sums up to a hefty 2.40 MB in a minute and a full 115.2 MB for an hour of continuous streaming.


However, please note that most of these calculations are on average figures. Usually audio streaming services will adjust the quality based on your network conditions. Services like Apple Music and Beats Music have lower bitrates (per second data consumption) for all of these quality headers than the figures mentioned above. However, in case you forget to put your audio streaming to auto adjust, most usual streaming services like Google Play Music or Spotify are consuming the above mentioned figures out of your data pack.


Video Streaming Services

We all know that streaming a video is going to cost us way more data than streaming an audio. The reason is simple – while streaming video, more data is being transmitted digitally to your device. Now we all are usually over this one word of the past called buffering. Mostly because apps these days know which video will stream without interruption with our network condition. Thus in case we have poor data connection, the video being streamed will automatically be of lesser quality (lower bitrates). In case if you have a working data, you would be however streamed an HD or 4K video. Below is the data consumption that different quality video streaming is going to have.

video streaming services, stream services, how to video streaming

On average a video being streamed under the quality header LOW is in fact poor quality. Usually a 240p or 320p video is low in quality which will be using around 300 MB (0.3 GB) easily in an hour of your data.

In case you go for a standard video, that would be an SD video of 480p. It will cost you around 700 MB (0.7 GB) in an hour.
The famous HD (high definition) quality video usually gets streamed at from 720p to 2K. In case it is getting streamed at 720p, it will consume 900 MB (0.9 GB) of your data for an hour. While 1080p videos will cost you 1500 MB (1.5 GB), 2K videos will burn straight 3 GB out of your data pack in an hour.
Meanwhile a 4K video which is UHD (Ultra High Definition) will cost you a phenomenal 4 GB of data per hour.


Though, you must take note that the figures mentioned above are again on average. The video streaming app you are using, your data connection, network condition, video quality compression – and many other factors shall in fact affect your data used in the end, but you can stay assured that the figures above will act as your valuable guide while estimating your data pack budget and average consumption.


Maximum Data You Can Stream on Your Plan

In case you do not use any unlimited plan or other zero rating plans, you would be like most of us subscribed to an average 2 GB, 5 GB or 10 GB plan. Please read on to understand how much data you may stream as per your data plan –


For 2 GB Data Plan

Let’s say you are using a 2 GB data plan, then you may consume either of the following –
47 hours of audio streamed under low quality
28 hours of audio streamed under normal quality
17 hours of audio streamed under high quality
6.5 hours of video streamed under low quality
2.8 hours of video streamed under standard quality
2.2 hours of video of 720p
1.3 hours of video of 1080p
0.6 hours of video of 2K
0.25 hours of video of 4K


For 5 GB Data Plan

In case you are using a 5 GB data plan, then you may consume either of the following –

117 hours of audio streamed under low quality
70 hours of audio streamed under normal quality
42.5 hours of audio streamed under high quality
16.25 hours of video streamed under low quality
7 hours of video streamed under standard quality
5.5 hours of video of 720p
3.25 hours of video of 1080p
1.5 hours of video of 2K
0.6 hours of video of 4K


For 10 GB Data Plan

Given that data plan you are subscribed to lets you use 10 GB, then you may consume either of the following –

234 hours of audio streamed under low quality
140 hours of audio streamed under normal quality
85 hours of audio streamed under high quality
32.5 hours of video streamed under low-quality
14 hours of video streamed under standard quality
11 hours of video of 720p
6.5 hours of video of 1080p
3 hours of video of 2K
1.2 hours of video of 4K


Please note – all these calculations are done while assuming that 1000 MB = 1 GB. This is the usual standard that most network providers follow and not the actual 1024 MB = 1 GB. Also, please remember that these calculations are done on an average basis and are subject to variations depending on the several factors already discussed above.


The above post shall obviously have made you notice the fact that all these streaming services (especially video) are costing you a lot. Thus it is much better if you use your WiFi to stream media. It is better for it will cost you less and make for better streaming. Using a WiFi will give you lesser compression or degradation of quality of your media. Also, using unlimited data services is obviously better than using a limited data plan given that on average watching 8 hours of HD videos will cost you 300 GB straight. But unlimited plans also get slow once the given data limit is over, so take account of your data needs and plan a data pack that takes care of them. Good Luck, and Happy Streaming!

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