When it comes to streaming, no one platform is bigger and more popular than Twitch. It’s the home for YouTubers and streamers alike, drawing in massive crowds to do nothing else but watch someone play video games. As silly as that may sound on paper, in practice Twitch.tv went on to be bought by none other than Amazon—yes, that Amazon—for more than $1.1 billion. That’s with a “B.”
Streaming Twitch is really easy, and it has to be with the kind of traffic it brings in. You can watch Twitch streams on your phone, computer, tablet—all the major devices. Of course, you would eventually ask: how much data does Twitch use?
How Much Data Does Twitch Use?
Unfortunately, there doesn’t exist a measuring stick to determine the amount of data used when you watch a streamer on Twitch; in fact, it comes down to quality.
A better answer to that question is determined by the bitrate. Twitch can support up to 6000 kbps—that’s 6000 kilobytes per second, or 6MB per second. If you’re part of the audience, you’d be using 6MB of data per second, right? Right!
Luckily for you, Twitch streamers tend to find a sweet spot around 720p to ensure they grab as many viewers as possible. Obviously it’s not as good as 1080p, but 1080p can tank your data plan fast, consuming between 4.5MB per second to 6MB every second. As for 720p, it’s a comfortable average of 2MB per second and quality is still good enough.
But what about streamers? Let’s say you’re a Twitch streamer, and you have an internet plan with a data cap (god help you). What kind of data are you going to eat up? The same as the viewer, however, you’re uploading information rather than downloading. If you upload a 10MB file, then you’ve used 10MB.
How To Save Data Using Twitch
When your income is on the line, the obvious step to keeping it healthy is by practicing better streaming habits.
1. As a Streamer
So, you’re a Twitch streamer and you want to reduce the amount of data that you use, as well as your streamers. Streaming in 1080p isn’t bad, but believe it or not, it can limit your viewer count. Remember: people are watching on every major device—phones, in particular, have data plans attached to them. If your channel is streaming too high of video quality, people will eventually leave to conserve their data.
What do you do? You find the sweet spot. Streaming in 720p will do you just fine. It’s still great quality, it will only run, on average, 2MB per second, and you can reach a much larger audience.
2. As a Viewer
You, as the audience, what can you do to reduce data usage? You have a few more options available than a streamer. While a streamer is always streaming at the highest quality they’ve limited themselves to, as a viewer you can reduce the quality of the video. How? Like YouTube: you click on the little gear icon and lower the video quality.
Of course, this only applies to you. Don’t think you’re reducing the quality for everyone watching—you’re not. It’s just for you, and when it’s lowered, the quality will get worse but the amount of data is also lessened as a result.
3. Data Plans
Whether you’re streaming your Twitch channel or viewing a Twitch channel, a limited data plan isn’t the best setup. If you go cheap and buy a 2GB plan every month, you won’t be enjoying Twitch for long. It’s time to consider a new data plan.
Unlimited data plans might be the next best step. However, it should be noted that unlimited data plans can have their own pitfalls to worry about. Shopping around is the best remedy—compare prices, hidden fees and charges, and so on.
In conclusion, it’s safe to assume that using Twitch heavily, as part of the audience or streaming video games will quickly kill any data plan that has a cap. Sure, you can reduce that by lowering quality, but using Twitch too much can land you into the same problem.
In other words, use Twitch sparingly if you’re truly worried about hitting your data cap. Take advantage of Wi-Fi when you can and only tune in when absolutely necessary. Lastly, if you can afford it, shoot for an unlimited data plan.