Netflix is growing fast, with its financial results for Q4 2017 stating it had a global subscriber base of 117.6 million.
Many of the service’s most popular shows are original content – and much of this content is available in 4K.
Also called UHD (ultra-high definition) and 2160p, consumer 4K content is media displayed at a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160.
The high-resolution setting provides clearer images, particularly when sitting close to a large TV or monitor, and all major TV manufacturers now punt their 4K TVs as the devices of choice.
The improvement in quality compared to full HD (1,920 x 1,080) is vast, but comes at a price – streaming uses much more data.
Netflix recently announced that it had optimised its Android and iOS apps for mobile viewing, allowing users to watch video while consuming less data.
The company stated that mobile users can get around 26 hours of video using 4GB of data.
Tests by MyBroadband showed that Netflix on a mid-range Android smartphone would consume 5.3GB of data for 26 hours of video.
Its 4K content on a TV is far from this economical usage, however, which is indicated by Netflix suggesting that users who want to watch UHD content use a 25Mbps broadband connection.
To see just how much data Netflix uses on a 4K TV, we fired up some of the latest shows and tracked the bandwidth usage.
For the Netflix test, we used a Samsung 55-inch UHD TV (UA55JS7200).
The TV was connected via Wi-Fi to a 100Mbps Openserve fibre line, running a capped 200GB account.
The pre-installed Netflix app on the Samsung TV was used to watch the content, and a speed test in the Netflix app showed it was receiving a connection speed of 24Mbps.
Two of Netflix’s latest shows were played, along with a new movie. The bandwidth used by the content, as detailed by accessing the “Info” overlay while streaming, was:
- Fastest Car at 2160p – 15.26Mbps
- Jessica Jones at 2160p – 15.26Mbps
- The Outsider at 2160p – 15.26Mbps
The three shows were all allowed to play for several minutes, and the bandwidth rate quickly settled and remained at 15.26Mbps for each when in 4K.
Using the figures above, the test shows that Netflix uses the following amount of data when playing 4K content:
- 114MB – Per minute
- 6.8GB – Per hour
This means that a standard 1-hour-30-minute movie will use over 10GB of data.
A 25-minute episode of a series in 4K will use 2.8GB of data, while a 45-minute episode will use 5.1GB of data.
If you are streaming Netflix in 4K on a daily basis and are on a capped account, it may be a good idea to plan your usage accordingly.