What Do Video Bandwidth Overages Really Mean?

In an ideal world, we'd all proactively track our videos to see if they're succeeding. But sometimes, instead, we're caught by surprise by a "metric" that's rarely seen as a metric at all: bandwidth usage.

Learning that you exceeded your bandwidth limit might seem worrisome at first glance, but it's actually a good thing. More bandwidth used means more people have been watching your videos.

What is bandwidth, anyway?


The briefest explanation is that bandwidth is the data that gets passed to a viewer when they watch a video. For a Wistia-hosted video, that means the data is being passed from Wistia's servers to the viewer's browser.

Bandwidth doesn't just include pressing play. It can also include other things being passed from Wistia to your viewers, like the player and thumbnail image loading, the video being loaded and played by you internally, and the video being downloaded.

How is bandwidth calculated?

Wistia creates multiple video derivatives to ensure smooth video playback across browsers and devices, and the bandwidth used will vary depending on the derivative served. For example, a high-quality video at an HD resolution will be a larger file, so it will use more bandwidth, while a lower-resolution render will use less bandwidth.

You can read more about how Wistia bandwidth and related pricing works in our Help Center.

Beyond bandwidth: measuring success with analytics

While bandwidth usage is a metric of sorts, we wouldn't recommend using bandwidth as your sole measure of video success. Instead, you might want to dig deeper into other video metrics, such as:

  • Play count: How many people did your video reach? Is your video driving awareness?
  • Video engagement: Are people watching most of your video, or do they drop off at a specific point?
  • Play rate: How many people who landed on your page also played your video? Does your video work in context?
  • Leads collected: Did your video drive signups through a Turnstile or on-page form?
  • Time on page: Are people staying on your page longer as a result of including video?
  • Bounce rate: Does video make visitors more likely to navigate to other pages on your site?

For a deeper dive on video metrics and measuring success, our Guide to Video Metrics is a good resource!

Preventing bandwidth overages

Even though bandwidth overages are technically a sign of success, it's still unpleasant to be caught by surprise with an overage you didn't plan for. While there's always the possibility of an unanticipated runaway success, you can use our handy bandwidth predictor tool to estimate your monthly usage based on your average video length and plays.

You can trim bandwidth by taking some of the measures listed in our Help Center:

  • Change your default video quality. In your Account Settings, while logged in as an Account Owner, change your "Video Quality" from "Auto" to "360p". You can always undo this change later!
  • Break longer videos up into shorter chunks. This way, viewers who just want to watch part of a video won't end up downloading a larger file than necessary.
  • Minimize your own views. Internal views also count towards bandwidth, so if you're scrambling to cut down bandwidth usage, cutting down internal views might help.
  • Cut down on autoplay. Autoplaying videos automatically start using bandwidth, while other videos start downloading when a viewer presses play.
  • Update the "videoQuality" embed option for a single video. If one video is the culprit, rather than your entire account, you can change the videoQuality embed option for that video instead of changing your account default.

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