Innovation05 May 2016
As we have launched Netflix around the world, we have seen big differences in how much people are streaming on smartphones and what kinds of mobile data plans they have. Today, we are offering a new tool to help you better control how much data you use when streaming on cellular networks.
The default setting will enable you to stream about 3 hours of TV shows and movies per gigabyte of data. In terms of bitrates, that currently amounts to about 600 Kilobits per second. Our testing found that, on cellular networks, this setting balances good video quality with lower data usage to help avoid exceeding data caps and incurring overage fees. If you have a mobile data plan with a higher data cap, you can adjust this setting to stream at higher bitrates. Our goal is to give you more control and greater choice in managing your data usage whether you’re on an unlimited mobile plan or one that’s more restrictive.
To set your cellular data usage, make sure you have updated your Netflix app on iOS or Android to the most recent version, select “App Settings” from the menu, and pick “Cellular Data Usage.” There you can switch off the automatic default and select a higher or lower data usage setting that works with your mobile data plan, including an unlimited option. For more information about how your new cellular setting will interact with account settings, check out this article in our Help Center.
We are always working on ways to improve picture quality while streaming more efficiently, so bitrates could change over time. As with all streaming, actual data usage can vary based on your device capabilities and network conditions. Your mobile carrier also may impact the actual data usage even if you elect a higher setting in the Netflix app. This setting only affects data usage while viewing on your mobile device on cellular networks; streaming on Wi-Fi is not affected nor is streaming when tethered.
We hope this will help you enjoy Netflix for those times that you are out and about, and we’ll continue to work to deliver a great streaming experience whether you are on a TV, computer, or a phone, and whether you are at home or on the go.
Eddy Wu is a Director of Product Innovation at Netflix