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What broadband do I need for streaming?

Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are now entertainment staples, and streaming games has grown in popularity, too. Is your internet broadband fast enough for streaming or are you tired of those buffering times? Find out what broadband speeds you need for streaming.

 

Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are now entertainment staples, and streaming games has grown in popularity, too. Is your internet broadband fast enough for streaming or are you tired of those buffering times? Find out what broadband speeds you need for streaming.

 

Written by
Sajni Shah
Utilities comparison expert
Last Updated
25 APRIL 2023
4 min read
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What is a good broadband speed for streaming?

A good broadband speed for streaming doesn’t have to be all that fast, but it will depend on which format you like to stream your content. The choices for video are:

  • Standard definition (SD)
  • High definition (HD)
  • Full high definition (FHD)
  • 4K or ultra-high definition (UHD).

The recommended minimum speed ranges from 1.5 megabits per second (Mbps) for TV services such as BBC iPlayer for standard streaming to at least 15 Mbps for the best video resolution on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

The good news is that most fibre broadband connections should be able to handle all types of streaming without too many problems.

What broadband speed do I need to stream in SD, HD and 4K?

The higher the video quality, the faster your broadband will need to be. For example, streaming in 4K needs significantly more bandwidth than streaming in SD.

You’ll also need to take into account other users or devices that share your broadband connection. That’s because every laptop, smartphone, tablet or console using the internet at the same time will reduce the available bandwidth.

If you experience annoying buffering, you may need to lower the video quality or get faster broadband to give everyone in your home the download speeds for streaming they need without disruption.

You can find the recommended speeds for various streaming platforms in our sections below.

What broadband speed do I need to stream movies and TV?

Different apps and services will recommend slightly different internet speeds for streaming TV shows and movies. But, generally speaking, the bandwidth speeds you’ll need for uninterrupted streaming are about the same.

These average speeds are recommended minimums for what they would call consistent performance, to avoid buffering. So, if anyone else in your household is streaming or gaming online, you’ll need more bandwidth than just the minimum.

Here are the recommended speeds for some of the most popular streaming services:

What broadband speed do I need for Netflix?

Netflix recommends these download speeds for playing TV shows and movies:

Video resolution Recommended internet speed
HD 3 Mbps
Full HD 5 Mbps
4K/UHD 15 Mbps

Although Netflix can work at very low speeds of 0.5 Mbps, the picture quality could be pretty poor, especially if you’re watching on a big screen. So you should aim for a speed of at least 3 Mbps. Also, bear in mind you’ll need to pay a higher subscription fee to watch content in 4K Ultra HD.

What broadband speed do I need for Amazon Prime Video?

Amazon recommends these minimum speeds:

Video resolution Recommended internet speed
SD 1 Mbps
HD 5 Mbps
4K/UHD 15 Mbps

Amazon Prime Video membership automatically gives you access to 4K Ultra HD content, but you’ll need a good broadband connection to make the most of this.

What broadband speed do I need for BBC iPlayer?

The recommended BBC iPlayer download speeds are:

Video resolution Recommended internet speed
DD 1.5 Mbps
Full HD 5 Mbps
4K/UHD 24 Mbps

Although BBC iPlayer doesn’t have a vast library of 4K content, you could watch the likes of Wild Isles and His Dark Materials in crystal clear definition if you have superfast broadband

What broadband speed do I need for YouTube?

YouTube recommends the following speeds:

Video resolution Recommended internet speed
SD 1.1 Mbps
HD 5 Mbps
4K/UHD 20 Mbps

To give you the best viewing experience, YouTube automatically changes the video resolution depending on your internet connection speed to prevent buffering during playback.

What broadband speed do I need to stream music? 

Music is similar to TV and movies in that different services recommend different bandwidth speeds.

Service Minimum internet speed (Normal quality)
Spotify (Mobile) 0.096 Mbps
Spotify (Desktop) 0.160 Mbps
Google Play Music 0.320 Mbps
Apple Music (iTunes) 0.256 Mbps
Amazon Music Unlimited 0.5 Mbps

What internet speeds do I need for video calling?

For most of the popular video-calling apps like Skype, Zoom and FaceTime, it’s usually recommended that you have upload and download speeds of around 3 Mbps. You need both download and upload speeds, because your connection will be receiving and sending data at the same time. Below are the minimum download and upload speeds you’ll need:

Type Recommended download/upload speed
Skype (HD 1-1 video call) 1.2 Mbps
Zoom HD group video call

Download 3 Mbps

Upload 3.8 Mbps

What is the minimum internet speed for gaming?

As a general rule, most games consoles recommend at least 3 Mbps for online gaming. However, because the different consoles play a combination of shared and exclusive games, the recommended speeds can vary slightly. We’ve broken down the recommended speeds to keep you gaming, uninterrupted.

Service Minimum download speed

Xbox One
Xbox Series S
Xbox Series X

3 Mbps
PlayStation 4
PlayStation 5
2 Mbps
Nintendo Switch 3 Mbps
Nintendo Wiii U 1.5 Mbps
PC/Mac 3-6 Mbps

Game streaming is also growing in popularity, partly thanks to more households having access to superfast and ultrafast broadband. These are the download speeds for selected game streaming services:  

Service Minimum Download Speed
Xbox Game Pass Cloud Gaming
10Mbps
PlayStation Remote Play 15 Mbps
Amazon Luna 10 Mbps
Shadow 15 Mbps
Nvidia GeForce NOW  15 Mbps


If you want to stream games you’ll need the broadband speed to handle it, so you may need to upgrade. 

How do you check your broadband speed?

If you have a fibre broadband connection your broadband speed should be pretty close to those superfast fibre speeds that you see advertised. This is because the signal doesn’t weaken over distance with fibre cables.

If you’re on standard broadband (ADSL), internet connectivity is delivered down the copper wires used by your existing phone line and speeds vary according to how far you live from your local telephone exchange.

If you live in some remote rural areas, your actual speed could be very different to those advertised.

Want to check your broadband speed? Use our broadband speed test.

Our broadband comparison service can help you find out what speeds and broadband deals are available where you live.

Which broadband deal is best for video streaming?

You shouldn’t need particularly fast broadband to stream TV and films. If you only stream in SD or HD, a basic fibre connection should be enough to give you the speeds you need.

But if you want to watch sport, films and nature documentaries in pin-sharp clarity, you might prefer a lightning-quick full fibre broadband deal to feel closer to the action.

Most packages come with unlimited broadband now, so at least you won’t have to worry about going over your monthly data limit, whatever you’re watching.

Which broadband deal is best for gaming?

For a seamless gaming experience, consider a fibre broadband package with an average speed of at least 50 Mbps. Although you can technically game online with 3 Mbps of broadband speed, ideally you’ll need more than this (especially if you’re competing against friends) to avoid annoying lag during gameplay – as it could put a strain on your broadband speed, requiring both high upload and download speeds.

If you’re not happy with your speed online, you might need to think about upgrading your internet package to get faster broadband for streaming.

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