Internet Speed Requirements for Video Streaming

Minimum speed requirements for Hulu, Netflix, Vudu, and more

There's a minimum recommended internet speed to stream video from websites and services, such as Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, and Amazon. If your internet connection has difficulties loading a movie, and if this happens every minute or two, the connection may not be fast enough to stream movies.

Minimum Speed Recommendations for Streaming Movies

To have smooth standard definition video, a connection that is more than 2 Mb/s is recommended. For HD, 3D, or 4K, that speed is much higher. It's also different depending on the service that streams the videos.

Netflix

These are the recommended internet connection speeds to stream movies and TV shows on Netflix:

  • 0.5 Mb/s to view standard definition movies on a laptop computer. While you can stream Netflix at speeds of 0.5 Mb/s, the quality is grainy on a large screen, much like watching an old VHS movie. Netflix recommends at least 1.5 Mb/s.
  • 3 Mb/s to view standard definition video (480p) on a TV.
  • 4 Mb/s to view high definition video (720p, 1080p).
  • 5 Mb/s or more for the best 1080p experience.
  • 15 Mb/s to stream 4K (but 25 Mb/s is preferred). Also recommended is a 4K Ultra TV with an HEVC decoder.

Netflix automatically adjusts the video quality to match your internet speed. If Netflix detects a slow internet speed, it will not stream high definition quality video, even if the movie or TV show is available in HD. This limits interruptions and buffering of the video but the picture quality suffers.

Screenshot of the Vudu download speed and upload speed test
 Lifewire

Vudu

These are the recommended internet connection speeds to stream movies on Vudu:

  • 1.0-2.3 Mb/s for standard definition video.
  • 2.3-4.5 Mb/s for 720p high definition video
  • 4.5-9 Mb/s for full high definition 1080p resolution video and high definition audio.
  • 9 Mb/s or more for 3-D HD movies.
  • 11 Mb/s or more for 4K streaming with access to Dolby Vision HDR.

Vudu offers a test to see if a higher quality video will play on your media streaming device. If a video halts and buffers repeatedly while watching it, a message asks if you would rather stream a lower quality version.

Hulu

These are the recommended internet connection speeds to stream video content on Hulu:

  • 1.5 Mb/s to stream standard definition content.
  • 3 Mb/s for 720p high definition videos.
  • 6 Mb/s to stream 1080p HD content.
  • 13 Mb/s for 4K Ultra HD videos.

Amazon Video

These are the recommended internet connection speeds to stream movies and TV shows on Amazon Video:

  • 1 Mb/s to stream standard definition content.
  • 3.5 Mb/s to stream HD content (720p and 1080p).
  • 15 Mb/s for 4K Ultra HD videos.

iTunes Video

These are the recommended internet connection speeds to stream movies and music videos on iTunes Video:

  • 2.5 Mb/s to stream standard definition (480p) content.
  • 6 Mb/s to stream 720p HD content.
  • 8 Mb/s to stream 1080p HD content.
  • 25 Mb/s to stream 4k Ultra HD content.

YouTube

These are the recommended internet connection speeds to stream videos on YouTube:

  • 2.5 Mb/s to stream 720p HD content.
  • 4 Mb/s to stream 1080p HD content.
  • 15 Mb/s to stream 4K Ultra HD content.

What Internet Speeds Are Available?

While there are many rural communities that reach about 2 Mb/s, larger cities, suburbs, and urban areas have access to much higher speeds. It is not limited to broadband and cable internet. In some cases, internet speeds nearing 100 Mb/s from a DSL internet connection may be available.

Some providers offer very fast DSL speeds through fiber optics, while some cable providers offer 30 Mb/s or higher. Google Fiber serves 1 Gb/s (one gigabit per second) speeds. These ultra-high speed connections can handle any video available, and much more. Other gigabit services include Cox Gigablast, AT&T Fiber, and Xfinity.

How Fast Is My Internet?

Quickly check your internet speed using one of the internet speed test websites. However, these tests might not be accurate if there are other factors contributing to a slow network.

Netflix has a speed test at Fast.com that tests the speed of your network with Netflix. This is the best test to take if you're planning to subscribe to Netflix because it tells how well you can download content from their servers.

What Affects Network Speed

While your internet speed caps out at what you're paying for, other things affect that speed such as the devices you're using.

  • On an old, hardly-working router or modem, or laptop or phone, it's harder to utilize the bandwidth from your ISP.
  • If your laptop has issues streaming online videos, boost the strength of your network's Wi-Fi signal, or disconnect from Wi-Fi and use a physical Ethernet connection. It's possible that the Wi-Fi signals are weak in that particular place in the building, or that the device is interfered with by other wireless signals.
  • If network bandwidth is shared between other devices on your network, connection speed decreases. For example, with an 8 Mb/s internet speed and four devices online at the same time (such as two desktops, a laptop, and a gaming console), each device may only download at about 2 Mb/s, which isn't enough to stream SD content from Hulu.

If you have trouble with buffering and videos neglecting to fully load and boosting the Wi-Fi signal or connecting through Ethernet doesn't solve the problem, stop using the other devices. You may be putting to much demand on your home network. If you have video streaming issues, don't download files on your laptop and be on Facebook on your phone while streaming videos from your Xbox.

To avoid problems with low quality, slow loading, and buffering, and to meet the speed requirements of the services you want access to, choose the fastest internet speed available in your area that you can afford.