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Study highlights energy use of video streaming

Apr 14, 2024

August 31, 2023

A study from Accedo has found a high variation of energy consumption between various streaming devices, with TVs alone being the most efficient. The study, which looked at the energy usage of various streaming devices and a number of popular streaming applications, also found that autoplay content dramatically increases energy consumption.

Accedo tested various scenarios at application level, implementing changes around bitrate, resolution and dark mode versus light mode, to evaluate subsequent energy variations. The team also explored UI and UX techniques that can contribute to improved energy efficiency. This includes the recommendation of better UX guidelines to avoid unnecessary playback.

The study found that set-top-boxes only use a small amount of energy (Amazon Fire ~1.5W, Sky Puck ~3W, Youview ~10W), while gaming consoles use around 70 watts of energy. As both these types of devices need to be paired with a screen for playback, the overall energy consumption is higher than using a Smart TV alone. Smart TVs were found to use around 51W with energy saving enabled and screen backlight set to 20 per cent. With default backlight settings at 80 per cent, LG WebOS TV would use around 120W and Tizen 2016 would use around 130W during playback. Switching energy saving off increased these further to around 170W for LG TV and around 200W for Tizen.

Accedo also tested a number of the most popular streaming applications. In general, the variation among apps across different devices was minimal. On Smart TVs with lower screen brightness settings, the average power consumption across all tested apps was around 52W. Notably, Prime Video’s home view had lower idle power consumption than the other apps, with approximately 50 per cent less power used compared to Netflix at default brightness settings. This is likely due to the lack of autoplaying content and the use of darker colours on the home screen.

Accedo has highlighted a number of recommendations from its findings, including prompting consumers to switch devices and/or adjust backlight settings, as well as suggesting video providers consider using darker aesthetics, implement energy saving features such as ‘skip Intro’ or ‘are you still watching’ and a reduction in animated content.

François Polarczyk, Sustainability Director, Accedo, commented: “At Accedo, we are committed to helping reduce the carbon footprint of video streaming and contributing to a more sustainable future. Our research has identified several impactful changes that, when implemented during development, could reduce the energy consumption of video streaming devices without sacrificing performance or user experience. However, there is still more work to be done and we are actively looking at further investigations in this area, particularly from a user acceptance perspective.”

Accedo indicated that further research could focus on UX changes or improvements that will help with the sustainability of the application or device, or working with device manufacturers to create more energy-efficient hardware.

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Categories: Articles, OTT, Research

Tags: Accedo, netflix, Prime Video, streaming