Streaming services offer a seemingly never-ending massive library of high-quality movies and TV series. But as you see a beautiful High Definition picture on your giant screen, it’s easy to worry about data limits. So how many gigabytes of data does a two-hour video use?
A standard HD video will use about six gigabytes of data over two hours. 4K or 8K will be significantly higher, with 8K using about 72 gigabytes over the same period.
We’ll look at some statistics from streaming services to see estimates of data usage, as well as looking at the factors that can help you quickly calculate how much data you’re using depending on the type of video you’re watching.
How Much Data Will a 2-Hour Video Use?
There is enormous variability in how big a two-hour video will be. A two-hour video on a streaming service will be significantly different in size depending on quality factors.
It has become easier to see exactly how much data is used by using services like Netflix. Netflix offers data usage settings in their app, meaning you can select from four settings to control how much information is used per hour.
By using different profiles on Netflix, you will get a standard amount of data used. For example, a 720p video is likely to use about 3 gigabytes per hour on the High setting, in High Definition.
1080P, 4k, and 8K Compared
1080P, 4k, and 8K compared, and why does it matter? 8K and the number of pixels and frames per second specified means that it requires a tremendous amount of bandwidth compared with 4K or 1080P. 8K requires up to 120 Frames Per Second (FPS), and 4K only requires half that number of frames per second.
With 8K technology still being in the early stages of development, it is expected that in future as frame rates and color depth increases, requirements will grow to reach 300 Mbit/s.Huawei Corporate White Paper-Big Data Video Top Ten Most Demanding Videos
Understanding 1080P, 4K, and 8K in terms of megapixels. Pixels are the dots that make up a video image. K in the 4 or 8 equals 1,000, so the name came from meaning anything with a width of 4000 or 8000 pixels. The more pixels you have, the sharper the image in your videos or digital pictures.
8K is four times the resolution of 4K, which is four times the resolution of 1080p. 8K resolution is growing in popularity, and 16K is not available to the average consumer. Depending on the Resolution, Refresh Rate, Color Bit Depth, and Chroma Sampling, these numbers can change dramatically.
|Video Resolution||Pixels Ratio||Equation||Framerate||Video|
|Data used per |
minute or second
|Equates to 1,920 pixels||15–30||3-9 Mbps||50-70 MBPM||720P is only slightly better than 480p|
|4K Defined||3840 × 2160||Equates to 8 megapixels||30-60||13-50 Mbps||95-385 MBPM||4 times as many pixels as 1080P resolution|
|8K Defined||7680 × 4320||Equates to 33 megapixels||30-60||20-50 Mbps||17-128 GBPS approximately||4 times as many pixels as 1080P resolution|
|16K Defined||15360 × 8640||Equates to 132.7 megapixels||30-60||Encoded 300 Mbps||A standard film is projected to be over 100 terabytes||16 times as many pixels as 4K resolution|
Streaming Over the Internet
If you are streaming a video on an HD TV or computer, you can expect to use around six gigabytes of data over two hours. Adjusting the quality settings up and down will drastically change the amount of data used.
If your internet connection is good but has a low data cap, leaving your setting to Auto may be risky. You will get the best quality, and therefore data-intensive, picture, but burn through data.
The figures for YouTube streaming 8K video content over the internet are approximately 36 gigabytes of data used per hour.
On the other end of the scale, for a 240p video, two hours will add up to 80 megabytes of data, or 0.08 gigabytes.
For a very rough calculation, you can multiply the video’s length by the bitrate to get a per-hour data usage. As bit rates use different units (bits versus bytes), divide the final figure by 8 to get it into gigabytes.
How To Do Your Own Video Size Calculation
First, it’s essential to understand the many variables that will go into calculating a video’s size. These key factors are video bitrate, bit depth, the type of codec used, resolution, and frame rate.
The video bitrate is a reflection of the quantity of data required for video in one single second. You can calculate a video’s bitrate by looking at some variables, one of these is the resolution of the video.
A higher video bitrate will mean more data is being transmitted per second. You can find specific information about each of the streaming service’s respective bitrates to get this information; however, keep in mind that these figures are being adjusted constantly.
The other factors adding to the data are bit depth. Bit depth reflects the color possibilities of a single pixel. A 1-bit image is one of the most basic pictures possible, only showing two colors: black and white.
As you increase the bit depth, more colors, and detail are possible, increasing the data size. The multiplication effects mean that a 24-bit image can display over 16 million colors as you go higher on the bit count.
As the bit depth increases, the image’s file size also increases because more color information has to be stored for each pixel in the picture.
Video codecs are video compression standards helpful in compressing large files down without compromising quality. As codec technology has improved, it is possible to have a very high-quality video that is significantly smaller than in the past.
The stripped-down version is that encoding is compression, while codecs are the tool for compression.
There are many different codecs, but there has been a convergence toward the more successful codecs that allow optimal compression while still maintaining most of the original video. Some of the more common ones are MPEG-4 and H.264, used by YouTube and others.
A resolution is generally two figures and determines the number of pixels in your video. More pixels mean typically more detail is rendered, but also more data is needed.
- The common resolutions are based around the standard ratio of 16:9, which you’ll find is the most common ratio amongst television and computer screens. This means you get resolutions like 1920 x 1080, 1280 x 720, 896 x 504, and 640 x 360.
- High Definition starts at 1280 x 720, and Full High Definition is at 1920 x 1080. These are also referred to by their second numbers, such as 720p and 1080p. The vast majority of TV and computer screens will be in both of these resolutions, although 4K and 8K screens are rising.
- Recent innovations like 4K and 8K resolutions still follow this 16:9 resolution, but of course, the vertical and horizontal numbers are much larger. There are many variations, but you’re looking at resolutions like 7680 x 4320 for 8K, and 4224 x 2376 for 4K.
- There are also 16:10 aspect ratios on the 4K, and 8K ranges to allow a slightly different picture angle.
- All of this will affect data size, as a higher resolution reflects more pixels per frame. The more pixels needed to make up the picture, the more data is required to be used.
- In the end, streaming on a standard screen will be either 720p or 1080p, so you’re looking at 3 gigabytes or so an hour. Check the settings when streaming to ensure you aren’t streaming in too high a quality to use all your data.
Lastly, one of the other significant contributors to file size is the frame rate. Video cameras record multiple individual video picture images called frames. Frame rate comes in different standards of frames per second or fps. Most video cameras use the standard frame rate of 24fps, but they also come in other settings like 25fps, 30fps, 60fps, and 120fp.
When you watch a video, the frames are played back and appear to be in motion. Frame rate is the measurement of the number of frames viewed within one second and is classified as FPS (frames per second).
Frame rates can be varied to allow different viewing experiences. Higher frame rates tend to capture more detail and mean the video is crisp and smooth, but this is at the cost of a much larger file.
This factor means that specific videos will be smaller in file size just by their nature. Certain animated shows tend to have less movement, whereas videos showcasing lots of activity like sports will. When you want to capture a higher amount of detail, more data is needed by increasing the file size.
While the various streaming services use different compression methods, the figures will not differ dramatically depending on what service you use. Many of these services allow you to force use wireless only instead of cellular data. Still, the quality of your streaming provided by your internet service provider and the format you are using affect how many Gigabytes you use.
If you are serious about keeping under your data cap, this is one of the best ways to get both a stable, high-quality picture, as well as not blasting through gigabytes of data getting through the latest season on Amazon Prime. Happy viewing!
- 8K Data Rate Calculator
- DeepVista: 16K Panoramic Cinema on Your Mobile Device
- Netflix: How to control how much data Netflix uses
- Techopedia: Pixel
- Indiana University: What are bits, bytes, and other units of measure for digital information
- TechCrunch: Amazon follows Netflix’s lead, reducing streaming quality in Europe
- Whistleout: How Much Data Does YouTube Use?
- Recombu: What is HD? The difference between 720p, 1080i and 1080p
- Cord Cutters News: Comparing Data Usage for Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon
- CNET Tech: 4K vs 8K vs 1080p: TV resolutions explained
- Tom’s Hardware What Is 720p? HD Resolution Explained
- I’m Programmer: What are the Main Factors that Determine Video File Size
- Filmora: What is video bitrate and why it matters?
- Adobe: A beginner’s guide to video resolution
- VideoProc: What Resolutions Have the Same Ratio as 16:9?
- University of South Florida: Tech-Ease: What is bit depth?
- University of Michigan: All About Images
- Gizmodo: 16 Misleading Display Specs and What They Really Mean
- Filestack: The Complete List of Video File Formats and Codecs for Developers
- Wowza: Video Codecs and Encoding: Everything You Should Know
- TechSmith: Frame Rate: A Beginner’s Guide