How many gigs does it take to stream a movie?

A three-hour train ride if you don't have to work or aren't too tired will give you the ability to watch a 2-hour movie and at least 2 episodes of your favorite series. But how many Giga of the monthly plan have you already consumed and how many will you need to be able to see this content without problems?

To see a movie in 4k how many Giga you need?

The answer is it depends. In fact, there are a number of factors that can increase or decrease the consumption to be able to see a movie in streaming. The resolution of the images is in all likelihood the element that influences the most, along with, of course, the duration of the video.

Whether you decide to use your cell phone or PC, it does not matter, the number of GB needed is not related to the device from which you view the content. What is important is the viewing mode that you decide to use, now you can choose between high definition, ultra high definition or four times higher than HD.

For those who are not too familiar with the subject, the new higher standards of video quality to which we are accustomed range from HD to UHD in 4K. The resolution guaranteed by the high definition is 1280 x 720 pixels, to watch streaming video with these characteristics we consume an average of 900 MB per hour.

Full HD is a slightly higher degree of vision, in this case the pixels will be 1920 x 1080 pixels, in this case the consumption of Giga will be higher. These numbers, which may not mean much to most people or which you may have heard a thousand times but have no idea exactly what they mean, indicate the sharpness and clarity of the image. The greater the clarity, the better your viewing experience will be and the more detail each frame will contain. For Full HD, each hour of movie streaming consumes an average of 1.5 GB.

The last two rungs on the resolution scale are currently occupied by QHD quality in 2 K and UHD in 4 K. The former is a resolution of 2048 x 1080 pixels, while the latter goes up to 4096 x 2168 pixels. In the new mobile devices and tablets 2K viewing can be contemplated, but it is still impossible to expect to be able to take advantage of 4K with a smartphone. Ultra HD is still a technology available almost exclusively on smart TVs.

In terms of Giga the difference between the two resolutions is important, if with 2K an hour of streaming brings the user to consume 3GB, with 4K you can reach 7GB in 60 minutes of viewing.

In the list just last year among the possible technologies and video quality there was no standard. With this type of resolution the consumption in terms of Giga would be reduced considerably. For an hour of streaming in SD you get 700 MB, even less if you select a lower video quality. The minimum for Netflix, for example, consumes 300 MB in 60 minutes of viewing.

You can choose the minimum resolution

The consumption of Giga to see the streaming movies is a question that concerns more those who use their mobile connection to connect and watch this content. Home internet offers for fixed line are in fact almost always thought with flat packages. The worry of running out of internet traffic for mobile customers is instead a recurring nightmare.

Doing a couple of accounts given the numbers just studied with a 30 GB data package how many hours of streaming could enjoy a user. The calculation is easy.

If the customer opts for Ultra HD he will have only 4/4.5 hours of autonomy, if instead he will be satisfied with HD he will be able to afford 30 hours of reproduction. Switching to a minimum resolution you can watch your streaming TV for almost 4 days non-stop, an interesting fact for those who love to do binge watching.

That of lowering the resolution of the content that you view in streaming from your smartphone is one of the tricks most used to make the most of the Giga included in the packages of mobile phones. The hours spent watching TV series or movies in streaming imply in fact the consumption that often are underestimated by users accustomed to use fixed line internet connections.

If you run out of Giga, here's how much mobile internet costs

When you want to watch a content while you're away from home and you don't have access to a fixed network the Giga/hour issue becomes relevant. Also because in the plans of the mobile operators exceeding the maximum number of Giga can lead to rather high extra costs or the discomfort of being without connection until the reactivation of the promotion.

The additional charges for each Giga not included in the rates vary from provider to provider. With Vodafone's Shake it easy you get 60 GB in the plan, but once you run out the cost for every 200 MB will be €2. Even the offer Tim Young without limits gives 60 GB basic and when the threshold of internet traffic is exceeded applies a cost of € 1.90 for every 200 MB consumed. Wind on the other hand once the GB included in its plans are used up will automatically block browsing.

Compare mobile offers with more gigaVai "var sosCta1 = document.getElementById("sos-cta1"); = "width: 100%; box-sizing: border-box; display: table; text-decoration: none; padding: 20px 30px; margin: 5px auto; border-radius: 4px; box-shadow: 0 0 4.8px 0.3px rgba(0,0,0,0.1); border: solid 1px #eeee; background-color: #fafafa; border-left: 2px solid #477199";var sosCta1Label = sosCta1.getElementsByTagName("b");sosCta1Label[0].style.cssText = "box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 20px; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-stretch: normal; line-height: normal; letter-spacing: normal; text-align: left; color: #333333; display: table-cell; vertical-align: middle;";var sosCta1Button = sosCta1.getElementsByTagName("strong");sosCta1Button[0].style.cssText = "width: 20%; box-sizing: border-box; border-radius: 4px; border: solid 1px #009b4c; font-size: 16px; font-style: normal; font-weight: bold; font-stretch: normal; line-height: normal; letter-spacing: normal; color: #ffffff; background: #16af83; padding: 10px 30px; text-align: center; text-transform: uppercase; display: table-cell; vertical-align: middle;";

A guide to reduce consumption

As mentioned there are some little tricks to adopt to be able to see the content of streaming TV without having to worry too much about the Giga that are going to run out.

Netflix, for example, allows you to choose between different ways of viewing that imply the consumption of internet traffic very different. Generally speaking, the streaming TV player is set to Auto, which means that depending on the device you're accessing the Netflix app from, it will decide what the best quality available is based on the connection you're connected to. The other three possibilities are low, medium and high.

Minimum video resolution

Let's see in detail how they differ. Low mode is the one that sets the video resolution parameters to the minimum, so according to what we have just discussed you will consume 300 MB for each hour of viewing. Medium instead corresponds to viewing videos in SD, so you'll stay around 700MB per hour. High definition will consume 3 GB per hour because it will set the viewing to HD quality. The different Netflix profiles can also be adjusted to different video definition settings and when you connect they will be automatically activated.

Wi Fi only

If you don't want to risk leaving content open for playback while you go out and you don't have Giga available there is another useful option: Wi Fi only. Selecting this item will allow Netflix to connect and start watching only when you hook up to a fixed connection.

These tips actually apply to most of the channels from which you are accustomed to view streaming content. In fact, YouTube has the same features and allows you to reduce the quality and resolution of the videos you play to allow you to halve the consumption of Giga.

Disable chain playback

Disable also the chain playback of the contents is a good trick to avoid that while distracting yourself you realize that for 2 hours the player has continued to download data passing from one video to another. Or maybe if you're on a train or in bed and you fall asleep while the episode is going you won't run the risk of running out of gigs without even having actually seen the streaming content. The option to disable auto play is usually found in the general account settings.

Download content at home

Another great solution when possible is to download content when you have unlimited home connection. This way you can have access to the video from your PC, tablet or smartphone even when you are out and about and you won't have to consume the mobile internet traffic of your offer.

Unfortunately, often from Amazon Prima, Netflix or YouTube catalogs you can't download every video available. These are limitations set by copyright and property rights of the material. Therefore, this option is not always valid and can run into these limitations. Generally, however, when it is feasible, it guarantees a better viewing experience and is not subject to the operator's coverage and possible environmental interference.

In any case, the new mobile phone offers also offer unlimited data packages or with 100 GB. These are generally more expensive solutions than the more popular €6 or €15 plans. Vodafone's Unlimited Black tariff is one of these, in the package the operator includes unlimited minutes, sms and internet.  The cost of this promotion is however very high, every month the expense will be almost €40. Tim has its Advance solutions that allow you to surf in 4.5G, but in the version with more Giga propose a plan with 100 GB per month. Even in this case the price is higher than the normal rates applied by operators, it comes to about 50 € per month.

Always with 100 GB of internet traffic there are also two rates of Wind and Tre. The first is the Wind Family that offers a monthly subscription of € 18 (calls and sms included and unlimited). The second is Free Super Power at €20.98. In order to understand which is the most suitable mobile internet offer for you, you can use the comparator and compare the rates proposed by the various operators.

An average user does not, however, need to resort to these plans and these amounts of mobile internet traffic. Le proposte degli operatori a volte infatti escludono dal conteggio dei Giga consumati quelli usati per le app di messaggistica, quasi tutti offrono lo streaming musicale e poi è ormai molto facile trovare delle reti Wi Fi, magari in locali o nelle piazze, a cui agganciarsi mentre ci si sposta in città.

Facendo delle stime sull’utilizzo medio degli utenti e sulle abitudini di navigazione ha creato alcune categorie di massima per aiutare i consumatori a capire di quanti Giga hanno realmente bisogno ogni mese. Il profilo per un uso frequente prevede l’utilizzo di 8 GB che possono essere spesi per le seguenti attività:

  • 300 ore di navigazione
  • 25 video
  • 100 canzoni
  • 150 foto
  • 500 documenti
  • download di 4 film
  • 5000 e-mail