Looking to cut the cord on cable? Here are a few data-saving tips

What Viasat consumers should consider when it comes to cord-cutting and saving data while streaming

cord cutter illustration
Cutting the cord to your cable provider can save money, but there are data usage impacts to consider as well.

In the ever-changing landscape of entertainment, a digital trend is shaking up the way we watch our shows and movies. Cord-cutting is a movement by many consumers to opt out of their cable TV bills and still have plenty of options for entertainment.

This growing trend has taken the digital world by fire, so much so that services like Netflix and Hulu are becoming less known for streaming movies and more known for producing original content. Hit shows such as “Stranger Things,” “The Grand Tour” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” have garnered just as much buzz and award recognition as their traditional analog counterparts.

In addition, some networks like HBO, Starz and CBS are breaking the mold by offering platforms that don’t require a cable connection.

While cord-cutting seems like an exciting trend to cut costs, Viasat customers should check to make sure their viewing habits sync with their satellite internet data plans before taking the plunge.

A single HD-quality feature movie can consume 3-4 gigabytes of data while streaming, and an entire season of a show can consume much more.

Fortunately, some of Viasat’s unlimited data plans minimize the impact with capped resolution limits. They’re designed to save and stretch your available usage before reprioritization of traffic during peak hours for users that exceed their soft data caps. Your video streaming resolution may be set at 380p, 480p or 720p on the Bronze, Silver and Gold unlimited plans, respectively. Our Liberty plans have a built-in data extender that lowers streaming resolution, automatically stretching your data a bit further.

In addition to these Viasat-provided features, streaming devices have some additional settings that can help.

The Fire TV/Amazon Fire stick includes a data-monitoring feature. To access it:

  1. Select settings under the Fire TV menu
  2. Open preferences and then select data monitoring
  3. Press the Select button on your remote to toggle Data Monitoring ON

From here, you can also set data alerts triggered by a specified amount of GB, view your monthly data usage (on the device), and change your video quality.

Fire TV gives you tools to monitor your data usage.

Other streaming devices have a built-in resolution setting option. Here’s how to use them:

Apple TV

  1. From iTunes menu, select settings
  2. Select iTunes Store
  3. From this screen you can choose 1080p HD, 720p HD or Standard Definition. This will also determine the resolution of your rentals and purchases.

Roku Classic

  1. On the Home Screen, select Settings
  2. From here, you can select your display type, screensavers, and resolution for various apps.

Newer generations of Roku devices have a Hidden Menu (newer models may not apply to all Roku devices). Accessing it is a bit like using a video game cheat code:

  1. Press the home button 5 times
  2. Press the rewind button 3 times
  3. Press the fast forward button 2 times
  4. A menu should appear that will allow for you to change your settings.

Other streaming programs available feature app settings that can be activated to stretch your usage.

Sling TV, DirecTV NOW, and PlayStation Vue reportedly do not share their data usage per-hour statistics, but do provide options for lowering the resolution quality from the default higher resolution settings.

Netflix and Hulu have a default autoplay feature for TV shows. This is handy when you’re binge-watching shows, but can be problematic if you fall asleep and wake up five episodes later. This may be yet another place to consider when trying to manage your data usage. Netflix also allows you to change your streaming resolution pretty easily under the admin settings.

Hopefully these tips guide your decision to either dip your toe or dive headfirst into the world of cord-cutting.

 

Brad Bagby
About Brad Bagby 5 Articles
Brad Bagby is a member of Viasat’s Corporate Social Care team based in Denver. He focuses on helping Viasat's residential internet customers with quick responses on social media as well as the Viasat Internet Community. In addition to also penning freelance features for various blogs, he enjoys home-brewing and practicing the art of “dad reflexes.”