Best broadband for streaming

Streaming is becoming more and more popular all the time, with many people even ditching their usual TV packages and music players in favour of a subscription to a TV or music streaming service.

While this could work out to be a cheaper option than paying for a traditional TV package, or buying each album you want as it comes out, there are a few things you’ll need to consider before doing so, particularly in relation to broadband speeds.

What broadband speed and download allowance do I need for streaming content?

Streaming service Broadband speed required Data used  
Netflix 3Mbps for SD, 5Mbps for HD 1GB/hr for SD, 3GB/hr for HD  
NOW TV At least 2.5Mbps Approx 1GB/hr  
Hayu 2Mbps is recommended Approx 1GB/hr  
Amazon Prime Video 1Mbps for SD, 3.5Mbps for HD 1GB/hr for SD, 2GB/hr for HD  
Spotify Less than 0.5Mbps Approx 0.1GB/hr  
YouTube 2Mbps is recommended Approx 0.25GB/hr  

The speed and download allowance you’ll need will depend on which service you use, and whether you’re watching in standard definition or prefer to watch in HD. Streaming in HD will require significantly higher speeds, and will also eat up much more of your precious data per month - so if you don’t have an unlimited broadband plan, you’ll need to keep an eye on this.

What broadband speed do I have and how can I improve it?

If you’re not sure what broadband speed you have, and don’t know if you’ll be able to stream as a result, you can easily check your broadband speed with’s free speed test.

If you find that the speed you’re getting is slower than you’d like at home, our guide to broadband speeds has plenty of tips on simple ways to improve it. If these don’t work, and there’s nothing your provider can do, it might be time to shop around for a new deal.

What is the best superfast broadband deal?

Virgin Media offers plans with speeds of up to 250Mbps and up to 1000Mbps, and you can bundle your broadband with phone and/or TV if you wish, too.

If you can’t get Virgin Media’s plans where you live, there are plenty of providers offering plans with speeds of up to 100Mbps, so these could be a good option.

Compare superfast broadband deals now

How can I reduce buffering issues while streaming?

If buffering is ruining your streaming experience, there are a few things you can do, like:

  • connecting your streaming device directly to your modem, rather than connecting via WiFi, + making sure your router is not encased in a cabinet or near devices that could interfere with it,
  • moving the router into the room where you stream, and
  • restarting your modem to ‘refresh’ your connection.

On top of this, since watching in HD or UHD needs higher speeds than SD viewing, making sure your settings play on SD by default can also be a big help.

How can I reduce the data I use while streaming?

If you currently stream in the highest available quality - be that HD, or even UHD - the simple answer to this is that you can significantly reduce your data usage by watching in SD instead.

In terms of data usage, you can watch up to three hours of content in SD for every one you watch in HD, so it’s a no-brainer.

Find out more about streaming services in Ireland