Streaming entertainment has become a core part of our daily lives. Our television habits have shifted away from free-to-air and pay-TV, and instead we are increasingly turning on Netflix, Stan, and other streaming services.
We also stream other forms of entertainment (music, for example) but of all the forms of streaming, video, television and film is the most demanding on the internet. For some people, their only interest in the internet is for the purposes of streaming entertainment, so it's important to find an internet plan that can comfortably handle streaming services for the whole family in order to avoid frustrations and a potentially bad experience.
Most people will want to stream their Netflix on a 'Medium' or 'High' setting. Netflix's Low' setting is very easy on data use at just 0.3 GB per hour per device streaming, but it's also going to produce a grainy, unattractive experience that will be all but unwatchable on a bigger screen (where the distortions will be larger and more prominent).
Standard definition will look a little fuzzy, but 'Medium' is a good compromise for saving data and will only use 0.7 GB per hour per device. 'High' quality is going to be the desired default of anyone with a decent TV, despite burning through 3 GB per hour per device.
Finally, there is an Ultra HD Option for people who have a high-end 4K TV. The picture quality is spectacular, but Netflix charges a premium for that service, and you'll chew through data like there's no tomorrow - expect 7 GB per hour on average.
The data consumption is cumulative, so if three people in the household are each using devices on High setting, then the household will be consuming around 9 GB of data per hour.
The data consumption can rapidly tally up, so most people who use Netflix daily do look for unlimited data plans, so that they don't need to monitor their usage.
Data's the big one, but there are two other considerations to keep in mind:
Speed - Netflix is pretty demanding on internet speeds too. On standard definition ("Medium"), you'll want 3 Mbps per device. On HD ('High'), the recommended speed jumps to 5 Mbps, and on Ultra HD it leaps to 25 Mbps. Again, this is cumulative if there are multiple devices streaming at once.
For most households, a 'Standard 25' SpinTel nbn™ plan is ideal for one or two simultaneous users on normal or HD settings. 'Plus 50' is ideal for a household of up to five users, and if you are going to use Ultra HD, you're probably best opting for the Premium 100 nbn™ plan.
Reliability - The downside to streaming services is that if the internet goes out, that means no entertainment that night. If you're planning on being a heavy user of Netflix, you'll want an ISP with a proven track record in uptime and a minimum number of disruptions to normal service.
Before you decide what nbn™ plan you require for your Netflix experience, you first need to work out just how much streaming you're going to do. Tally up the number of hours you would spend on YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Apple Movies, Stan, Kayo and any other streaming services. It will probably surprise you just how much you spend there! If you aren't yet streaming, figure out how much time you spend watching free-to-air TV, and assume an approximate equivalence for streaming services.
It's worth considering that on average through quarantine, Netflix users watched an average of 3.2 hours of content per day. That's a useful guide to just how much Netflix can hook you in with its movies and TV series.
Then, count the number of devices that will be streaming entertainment. Not everyone has the same interests in Netflix, and it's not unusual for one person in the family to be watching on TV, while another relaxes on their bed with Netflix on a tablet device.
From there, it's easy to figure out how much data is involved. For example, two devices, each using the average 3.2 hours of data per day, on a high quality setting, will result in 576 GB of data consumed over the course of a month. If they restrict themselves to standard definition, it's 134.4 GB instead.
Then, calculate the total necessary Mbps speed for all the devices connected at once (two devices at HD would be 10 Mbps), and remember to leave a gap between the needed speed and the typical evening speed of your plan, just to leave a 'safety' of bandwidth.
Once you've done that, then you'll know exactly what kind of internet plan you'll need for an uninterrupted, comfortable Netflix viewing experience!