How Much Speed Do I Need to Stream Video?

If you don’t remember the last time you hooked up your TV to an antenna, you’re not alone. Streaming video is just the norm now for most folks. But it’s also one of the most bandwidth-intensive—and frequent—activities we do online. Nowadays it’s not uncommon for kids to be streaming Sesame Street on their iPads downstairs while their parents are upstairs watching Tiger King, or to have your roommate binge-watching Game of Thrones while you’re watching live sports.

How can your internet connection keep up? We’ll help you figure it out. When looking at the recommended speeds for each platform below, make sure to add up all the different services that could be running at the same time. And don’t forget to budget a few Mbps for people who might be trying to work while everyone else is streaming.

How much speed do you need for your streaming service?

Before we get started, you may want to test your internet speed first so you can compare it to the recommended speeds.

How much speed you need for Netflix

Video typeSpeed per device
Min. requirements0.5 Mbps
Recommended speed1.5 Mbps
SD streaming3 Mbps
HD streaming5 Mbps
Ultra HD streaming25 Mbps

Netflix has very clear recommendations for speed based on the quality of video you want.1 Just know that the speeds listed are for streaming on a single device, so if multiple devices on your network are watching Netflix at the same time, you need enough speed to handle all those streams at once.

How much speed you need for Apple TV+

Video typeSpeed per device
HD streaming5 Mbps
4K streaming25 Mbps

Apple doesn’t give official requirements for download speeds on its Apple TV+ streaming service. Like most streaming services, it will adjust the quality of the video automatically to match your download speed; however, users have measured the bitrate of a 4K stream at around 29 Mbps.2

We recommend at least a 25 Mbps download speed if you want to watch in 4K quality. The quality of video available for Apple TV+ or for movies rented or purchased through the Apple TV app can also vary a lot depending on the device you’re using to stream. To take full advantage of all the features Apple offers—4K HDR video with Dolby Atmos sound—you’ll need an Apple TV 4K as well as a broadband connection of at least 25 Mbps.

How much speed you need for Hulu

Video typeSpeed per device
Min. for Hulu streaming library3 Mbps
Min. for livestreams8 Mbps
Min. for 4K content16 Mbps

Hulu’s speed recommendations are based on picture quality and the type of content you’re watching.3 Similar to other streaming providers, Hulu automatically adjusts the video quality based on internet speed. It also recommends higher speeds for live content than library content. These recommendations are also the bare minimum, so we suggest a slightly faster connection to make sure you always get the video quality you want.

How much speed you need for Amazon Prime Video

Video typeSpeed per device
SD streaming1 Mbps
HD streaming5 Mbps

Like many services, Amazon automatically adjusts the quality of your videos to serve you the highest quality picture possible based on your speed.4 It doesn’t have much in the way of speed recommendations, but it does warn that even if you’re watching on a supported device, you may experience issues below a certain connection speed. Since these are minimum requirements, we would recommend having a faster connection if possible.

How much speed you need for YouTube

Video typeSpeed per device
SD 360p streaming0.7 Mbps
SD 480p streaming1.1 Mbps
HD 720p streaming2.5 Mbps
HD 1080p streaming5 Mbps
4K streaming20 Mbps

Like Netflix, YouTube does a great job of making its internet speed recommendations easy to understand.5 YouTube also points out that even if your connection can hit these numbers on a speed test, there are other factors like Wi-Fi performance, the type of connection, and the number of other devices on your network that can reduce your actual speed. We’ll talk more about other factors that affect buffering below.

How much speed you need for Disney+

Video typeSpeed per device
HD streaming5 Mbps
4K UHD streaming25 Mbps

Disney+ has speed recommendations that are on par with other streaming video services.6 If your connection is fast enough for 4K UHD video but you still find yourself being served low-quality video instead, it’s worth noting that some titles just aren’t available in this format.

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Disney+ has instituted measures to lower bandwidth utilization, which means potentially limiting HD and UHD streaming.

How much speed you need for Sling TV

Video typeSpeed per device
Streaming on portable devices3 Mbps
Single stream5 Mbps

Sling TV issues its speed recommendations based on the type and number of devices you plan to use, recommending at least a 25 Mbps connection if you’re going to be streaming on multiple devices.7 It also notes that these recommendations are for “constant speeds,” so if, for instance, you had a cable connection that slows during peak-use times, you want to make sure that your speed never dips below these requirements for Sling to run properly.

How much speed you need for HBO GO

Video typeSpeed per device
Video streaming3 Mbps
HD streaming3.1 Mbps

HBO GO doesn’t give many recommendations regarding connection speed, but it does note that for mobile devices, either a 3G connection or a connection to a Wi-Fi network that meets the minimum speed is required.8 Its minimum requirements are also fairly low, so we recommend having a higher speed for consistent HD streaming.

How much speed you need for SHOWTIME Streaming Service

Video typeSpeed per device
Video streaming5 Mbps

SHOWTIME has only one recommendation for streaming, however, like HBO GO, it strongly recommends that mobile devices use a Wi-Fi connection, though mobile devices can also stream video with a 4G connection.9

How much speed you need for STARZ

Video typeSpeed per device
Min. speed for video streaming2 Mbps
Recommended speed for video streaming6 Mbps

STARZ doesn’t break down its speed recommendations for different video quality or different devices.10 In general, it simply encourages viewers to use the latest devices and software for the best experience.

How much speed you need for AT&T TV NOW

Video typeSpeed per device
Recommended speed for streaming8 Mbps

AT&T gives us one speed that’s high enough to easily handle most streaming.11 Simple, right? Sorry, but TV from AT&T isn’t quite that straightforward. AT&T TV NOW is the streaming service formerly known as DIRECTV NOW. This is not to be confused with the new streaming service AT&T TV, which is more like a traditional cable service, complete with two-year contracts and annual price hikes. These two services should also not be confused with AT&T WatchTV, which is a third TV service provided by AT&T.

How much speed you need for VUDU

vudu logo
Video typeSpeed per device
HDX streaming4.5 Mbps

VUDU offers streaming in HDX, which is a format developed by VUDU that claims a better movie experience by preserving a film’s native 24 frames per second frame rate.12 If your internet connection can’t maintain the required minimum speed, you can use the VUDU app to download the video in HDX format.

How much speed you need for Crackle

Video typeSpeed per device
HD streaming9 Mbps

Crackle is an ad-supported streaming service, so in addition to playback issues related to your internet speed, ad blockers might interfere with your video.13 If you’ve checked your speed but are still having issues, try disabling your ad blocker and see if it makes a difference.

How much speed you need for Acorn TV

Video typeSpeed per device
Min. speed for video streaming1.6 Mbps

Acorn TV cites only a minimum speed requirement.14 This minimum is also fairly low compared to other streaming services. For higher-quality streams, especially on multiple devices, you’ll want more speed.

What if you meet the minimum speed requirements and still have problems?

Keep in mind that even if your internet speed meets the recommended speed of the streaming service you’re using, you could still have trouble with the quality of your video. If someone is downloading a large file or on a video chat while you’re trying to stream video, your bandwidth is going to be split between all these activities.

Some types of internet connections can experience slowdown at peak-use hours. Fast internet connections also need fast Wi-Fi routers that can handle multiple devices streaming at the same time. Watching a movie on Netflix uses more bandwidth than surfing the web, Voice over IP, or even online gaming. As such, one of the most basic reasons to upgrade your internet service is to make sure that the video you stream has a crisp, clear picture and buttery-smooth playback.

What should you do if your internet speed isn’t fast enough for streaming?

If your internet service isn’t fast enough for your streaming service, you’re probably due for an upgrade. We’ll help you find the fastest internet service providers in your area by entering your ZIP code in the box below.

  1. Netflix. “Internet Connection Speed Recommendations,” Accessed March 5, 2021.
  2. Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac, “Apple TV+ Praised for Its High Bitrate Streaming Video Quality” November 5, 2019. Accessed March 5, 2021.
  3. Hulu. “Internet Speed Recommendations,” May 11, 2020. Accessed March 5, 2021.
  4. Prime Video. “Issues with Live Streams on Prime Video” Accessed March 8, 2021.
  5. YouTube Help, “System Requirements” Accessed March 8, 2021.
  6. Disney+ Help Center, “What Are the Disney+ Internet Speed Recommendations?” Accessed March 8, 2021.
  7. Sling, “Internet Speed Recommendations,” Accessed March 8, 2021.
  8. HBO GO Help Center, “Supported Devices” Accessed March 9, 2021.
  9. Showtime Help Center, “I’m Having Trouble Getting Programs to Play/Video Is Skipping,” Accessed March 9, 2021.
  10. STARZ, ”Frequently Asked Questions about STARZ,”  Accessed March 9, 2021.
  11. AT&T. “Get Internet Speed Suggestions for AT&T TV,” Accessed March 9, 2021.
  12. VUDU Customer Support, “What Are My Bandwidth Requirements to Watch My Movies on the Web?” Accessed March 9, 2021.
  13. Crackle Help Center. “Common Video Playback Issues” Accessed March 9, 2021.
  14. Acorn TV, “Acorn TV Videos Are Buffering,”Accessed March 9, 2021.

Author -

Peter Christiansen writes about satellite internet, rural connectivity, livestreaming, and parental controls for Peter holds a PhD in communication from the University of Utah and has been working in tech for over 15 years as a computer programmer, game developer, filmmaker, and writer. His writing has been praised by outlets like Wired, Digital Humanities Now, and the New Statesman.

Editor - Cara Haynes

Cara Haynes has been editing and writing in the digital space for seven years, and she's edited all things internet for for five years. She graduated with a BA in English and a minor in editing from Brigham Young University. When she's not editing, she makes tech accessible through her freelance writing for brands like Pluralsight. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your life span.

Share This