Netflix and Amazon Instant have been battling it out for content and viewers, but what about the battle of data caps? In 2012 64% of Americans were under the limitations of a data cap with an average data cap of only 250GB a month. As the cord cutting momentum rises, the need to stream content and stay under a data cap will be a growing requirement.
So, let us break down the data usage for Netflix and Amazon Instant:
(All of these numbers are based on HD video and 1 hour of data usage. We used a 30 day month when looking at how many hours in a month.)
Netflix says it uses up to 3 GB an hour for HD video. From our testing it looks like, on a 20 Mbps down connection, Netflix averages 2.5 GB an hour. So, with a 250GB data cap you can watch 100 hours of HD video with Netflix.
Amazon has no public information for streaming data usage, and when asked they replied with, “Thanks for your inquiry about Amazon Instant Video data usage. We do not release the info you’re asking for…”
We can get some idea of the data usage based off of the file size when we download the videos for viewing. We used a Stargate Universe episode, the HD version, which was 1.96GB. Now, some of that will be DRM, but we estimate that less than 10MB of the file is DRM. We did check a few other episodes, and the HD quality was fairly constant at about 2GB per 1 hour show. (Please note these numbers were taken using the Unbox service before they shut down the service.)
With HD video Amazon users could watch about 125 hours of video a month.
If you are on a tight data cap and want to cut the cord, check if your movie or show is on Amazon Instant first, as it will allow you to watch an additional 12.5 hours of content every month. You will save some GB and still be able to watch all the content you want. If you are really concerned with cutting the cord on a data cap make sure to check out our Look at how to cut the Cord with a Data Cap HERE.