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How much Data is Consumed while Watching a YouTube Video on Phone, Saving Tips



Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus - YouTube Live

Every day millions of people all over the world watch YouTube videos & learn something new or have some good entertainment. The best part of accessing these videos is that the platform is completely free to the users & also the creators, while there are advertisements that are shown on the top of the videos that help YouTube make money. Of course, a good 55% of the share is passed back to the video creators who have made all the efforts to create the video, while YouTube keeps the 45% share for hosting the video & helping it reach the masses. According to the YouTube Statistics, 80% of the video views are coming from outside the United States, clearly hinting that the platform’s content is consumed world-wide.

The content on the platform is available in a total of 76 different languages, while YouTube is available in 88 countries. Few Interesting facts are mentioned below.

  • YouTube has over a billion users
  • The number of people watching YouTube per day is up 40% y/y since March 2014.
  • On mobile, the average viewing session is now more than 40 minutes, up more than 50% y/y.
  • Growth in watch time on YouTube has accelerated and is up at least 50% year over year for three straight years.

Now lets talk about the topic, that is about the amount of data that would be consumed when you watch a video on your phone. With the internet data charges going down, along with the amazing internet plans we are seeing more and more users opting for the higher speed plans, primarily to consume more content. Netflix had recently launched in India, while earlier we had seen YuppTV & few other services coming live in the country. The amount of data consumed depends primarily on the following two factors.

  1. The length of video
  2. The quality of the video (HD or non-HD)

Based on the following data in the table shared by YouTube you can notice that it depends on the bit rate that is a combination of the video and the audio. Just for an example a 720p video would have a bit rate in the range between 1628 to 4128 that roughly translates to 60/(8*1024) = 0.0073 that has to be multiplied with the bit rate to give you a rough estimate. In this case 0.0073 * 4128 = ~30 MB per minute of video watched. Depending on the bit rate of the video the size of output would be set & if the user has uploaded a video with just an Image in it, the size would be minimal. For example if its an Audio Jukebox video then the bit rate would be on the lowest side & you would end up not consuming a lot of your data.

240p 360p 480p 720p 1080p
700 Kbps – 1000 Kbps – 2000 Kbps – 4000 Kbps – 6000 Kbps (Max)
400 Kbps – 750 Kbps — 1000 Kbps – 2500 Kbps – 4500 Kbps (Recommended)
300 Kbps – 400 Kbps — 500 Kbps — 1500 Kbps — 3000 Kbps (Min)

Do make a note that the videos even when compressed, optimized or edited & uploaded with a comparatively lower bit rate would still take a good amount of data & to reduce this usage you should take a look at the settings in the YouTube App. While the video is being played, you need to tap on the three dots on the top right that would give you access to a few more options. Along with this while the video starts playing you can also find the size of the complete video when paused as shown on the screenshot from Galaxy S7 below. (Jio 4G Vs Airtel 4G Video)

YouTube App Video Playback Quality

Saving the Data Usage while Playing YouTube Videos: If you are looking to save data that in directly helps you in saving some money on the recharges, then its time to first control the video quality thats streaming on your phone or tablet. By default if you select “Auto” then the app will use the highest quality based on the player size that could need a lot of data. If you are just casually watching some random videos then its recommended to go for 480p, while if you are just listening to some audio tracks then the 360p is recommended. Unless you are going to play some very high quality slo-motion videos or videos that are primarily focused on quality viewable content, its not recommended to go above 720p.

If you are always on a slower connection or an unstable connection, then you should head over to the YouTube Settings Page, where you can find the option of “I have a slow connection. Never play higher-quality video”. Click on save and you are done. Now the application would automatically stream videos on lower quality that would improve the experience with less number of buffers. Alternatively if your ISP’s FUP has just been reset & if you wish to just enjoy videos in higher quality, go to the same settings page & save the option of “Always choose the best quality for my connection and player size”. Depending on your Internet Speed, you should take a decision on what option to be saved.

YouTube Smart Offline

Co-incidentally, YouTube has launched a new feature dubbed as Smart Offline, that lets you decide the time you wish to download the videos. Again this new feature is network carrier dependant & also on the offers they provide. There are a few networks that offer more data to use during the night hours & hence it makes sense if you wish to download your favorite videos during this time period. Practically its something that not many users would be using since most videos are generally around 5 minutes long & you would rarely find someone making a list of videos to watch later, but certainly a good step taken to improve the experience on the YouTube App. Currently this feature is available in India with Bharti Airtel & Telenor Networks & would slowly be available with others. We have a few reports that Reliance JIO is also going to offer this feature in the coming weeks.

Another data saving tip would be using the Opera Max feature that reportedly is expected to save upto 50% of the data when playing videos or even browsing the web. If you watch a lot of TV Shows then there are a few other applications like the JIO Apps Suite that offers the Jio-on-Demand feature giving you access to many shows, the same way as the Hotstar application. At this moment it looks like YouTube is still the best bet when the Data Consumed per Minute on YouTube vs HotStar vs Jio-on-Demand vs Netflix Videos was calculated. You can also make use of the YouTube Offline feature that saves the video on your phone in case if you want to replay the same videos like Kids Rhymes or Music videos that would not need to be re-downloaded every time accessed.


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