Vodacom vs MTN — Netflix mobile data usage compared

Regardless of which mobile network you use, a single 22-minute episode of a TV show will cost you around 60MB of data, a MyBroadband investigation has found.

MyBroadband conducted the tests after receiving reports from streamers that they seem to be consuming different amounts of mobile data depending on the network they use.

While MyBroadband’s analysis shows that Telkom seemed slightly lighter on data than its competitors, the difference was marginal — around 2.6 megabytes (MB) per episode.

A more likely explanation for people seeing large discrepancies in data usage is that some episodes are larger than others.

Even if episodes are the same length, Netflix may compress them to different sizes.

We tested the mobile data consumption on Netflix by streaming the first few episodes of Rick & Morty.

The cellular data usage setting on the Netflix app was set to “Save Data”, and we switched off Wi-Fi on the device during testing.

Data use was monitored with the My Data Manager app on the device and using USSD balance checks.

Multiple tests were performed on each network, and the average use is taken, as some variance can occur due to the Netflix app buffering ahead and loading previews in the menu.

It was clear from the testing that the data use on the device is independent of the network, as these results were all very similar.

The data use recorded on the different networks was also consistent with what was measured on the devices.

The average data use on the network was just under 60 MB per 22-minute episode, which should allow for a little more than 6 hours of watching with 1 GB of data, regardless of the mobile network you are on.

This coincides with the official information from the Netflix help guide.

Data used
Network Average data per episode on device Average data per episode on network Difference
Telkom 56.8 MB 56.6 MB 0.2 MB (0.4%)
Vodacom 61.8 MB 59.2 MB 2.6 MB (4.2%)
Cell C 63.3 MB 59.9 MB 3.4 MB (5.4%)
MTN 59.4 MB 60.1 MB -0.7 MB (-1.2%)

Now read: Netflix dominates in South Africa — but two streaming services will give it stiff competition

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Vodacom vs MTN — Netflix mobile data usage compared