Netflix has made it easier to stream video on your phone or tablet without exceeding your mobile plan’s data limit and incurring overage fees.
The company, which offers movies and TV shows, announced Thursday that it has added a new tool to its mobile app “to help you better control how much data you use when streaming on cellular networks.”
Eddy Wu, a director of product innovation at Netflix, writes in a blog post:
“Our goal is to give you more control and greater choice in managing your data usage whether you’re on an unlimited mobile plan or one that’s more restrictive.”
The Netflix app, available for Android and for Apple iOS mobile devices, is free. (Of course, Netflix is not a free service — it starts at $7.99 per month, though a free one-month trial is available.)
The app’s default setting allows users to stream about three hours of video per gigabyte of data, which amounts to about 600 kilobytes per second. Wu writes that Netflix’s testing found “this setting balances good video quality with lower data usage to help avoid exceeding data caps.”
App users with higher data caps or unlimited data plans can adjust the default setting to stream at a higher bitrate.
The streaming rates now available in the Netflix app are:
- Off (Wi-Fi only): Don’t use cellular data for playback
- Low: Watch about four hours per GB
- Medium: Watch about two hours per GB
- High: Watch about one hour per GB
- Unlimited: Not suggested without an unlimited data plan
To change the streaming rate from the default setting, Netflix says to follow these steps:
- Make sure you have updated your Netflix app to the most recent version.
- Select “App Settings” from the menu.
- Pick “Cellular Data Usage.”
- Switch off the automatic default.
- Select a higher or lower data usage setting that works with your mobile data plan.
If you’re looking to ditch your expensive cable or satellite TV carrier for cheaper internet video services like Netflix, check out “How to Choose the Right Cord-Cutting TV Service.”
For free alternatives to Netflix, check out “17 Places You Can (Legally) Download or Stream Free Movies and TV.”
How do you keep from exceeding your data cap? Do you think options like Netflix’s new app setting are helpful? Share your thoughts below or on Facebook.