What Is Video Bitrate and Why It Matters?

This post tells you about what bitrate is and don’t know what bitrate you can stream at.

Wednesday January 19, 2022 2:11 PM PDT by Karen Greene

Nowadays, video marketing is becoming the best tool to increase brand exposure. The reasons are simple – it gives good ROI and doubles website traffic. So, like any other content type, there is great emphasis on maintaining the video quality. That is where the term ‘bitrate’ strikes your mind.

Many individuals perceive video resolution as the only essential factor affecting video quality. Well, this statement may not be correct. Other elements, like video bitrate, have equal importance too.

So, what is the meaning of bitrate? Does it affect the overall video quality while streaming? Let’s find out!

Video Bitrate: What Is It?

So, what is video bitrate? It seems like a genuine query as most users don’t understand the technicalities involved in uploading or downloading videos.

Well, each video consists of a large amount of data. A simple one-minute video may store much more data than that of many high-quality photos.

Thus, video bitrate is nothing but the amount of data your video sends out per second. This data transfer can be between your device and an online platform. In technical terms, bitrate indicates the amount of data your encoder needs to transfer video in one second.

We can calculate bitrates in the following measures. Note that bits and bytes are both different. In simple terms, 8 bits equal 1 byte.

  • Bits per second (bps)
  • Kilobit per second (Kbps)
  • Megabit per second (Mbps)
  • Gigabit per second (Gbps)
  • Terabit per second (Tbps)

Now that you know what bitrate means, let’s find out how it affects video quality.

Does Bitrate Affect the Quality of Your Video?

Of course, video bitrate can have a direct impact on your video quality. The video quality will be lower if the bitrate is lower. With a higher bitrate, you can upload a large number of video bits per second. Thus, it results in a higher quality video.

Likewise, a higher bitrate will also increase the video file size. As a result, it will lead to slower export.

What’s more, make sure you use the correct amount of bitrates. That’s because high bitrate can sometimes affect the hardware and waste the bandwidth.

Now, you might be wondering – what bitrate should I stream at for better results? Worry not; we will address this query in the below section.

What Is an Ideal Video Bitrate for Streaming?

Live video streaming usually takes more bandwidth as compared to uploading an already recorded video. In both cases, the upload speed depends on many factors. It includes the frame rate, resolution, encoding, video host site, etc.

Let’s assume that you will stream videos on popular platforms like Twitch, Facebook, or YouTube. For steady and bufferless streaming, you should set video bitrates according to the video resolution.

Full HD Videos:

  • For full HD videos that have a high frame rate (1080p, 60fps) – Ideal bitrate 4,500 to 6,000 kbps
  • For full HD videos that have a standard frame rate (1080p, 30fps) – Ideal bitrate 3,500 to 5,000 kbps

Regular HD Videos:

  • For HD videos that have a high frame rate (720p, 60fps) – Ideal bitrate 3,500 to 5,000 kbps
  • For HD videos that have a standard frame rate (720p, 30fps) – Ideal bitrate 2,500 to 4,000 kbps

Tips for Selecting the Correct Bitrate for Your Streaming

You might be following many streamers across the world. If so, one thing you will notice is that each streamer’s video quality differs a lot.

In short, streamers who have killer setups always present higher-quality videos. Likewise, the video quality of others ranges from average to low.

1. Check Your Upload Speed

Before we discover your bitrate options, it’s better to check your internet speed. You will find many internet speed testing websites online. What’s more, these websites will show different results for both download and upload speeds.

So, take a quick speed test and check your internet speed, especially the uploading speed. With this, you can find out the most suitable bandwidth you can use for streaming.

2. Choose the Resolution

It’s better to set your stream’s resolution before uploading your video to the streaming platform. That’s because it helps you decide how much detail to encode. Most streamers go for either 720p or 1080p resolution.

HD Resolution (720p)

Nowadays, most new streamers prefer to use 720p (1280 x 720) resolution. It gives an excellent quality video. Moreover, this resolution is super easy to render.

Full HD Resolution (1080p)

If your quality requirements are higher, you can go for 1080p (1920 x 1080) resolution. Even though it offers full HD video quality, it needs more processing power. Thus, you have to dedicate a larger portion of your bitrate.

To conclude this section, we recommend you start with a 720p resolution.

3. Selecting the Frame Rate

Framerate determines how smooth your video appears. It’s an essential element as it works in conjunction with the bitrate. But to have a larger framerate, you may need to reduce the resolution. Nevertheless, setting 60 fps for 720p makes more sense.

4. Adhere to the Suitable Speed Limit

No matter how fast upload speed you have, make sure you work at an ideal bitrate (mentioned in the above section.) Even if your upload speed is more than 500Mbps, a higher bitrate might cause lagging issues on the viewer’s side.

In short, streaming 720p at 30fps will give a stable yet excellent video quality. It is far better than using a 1080p resolution at 60fps. Above all, don’t forget to keep your bitrate at 5000 kbps.

Final Thoughts!

So, bitrate indicates the amount of data encoded for a specific time unit. To get a clearer video image, you should stream at a higher bitrate. It explains why video bitrate matters a lot while streaming.

Simultaneously, it will help if you also consider other factors that might change after setting your bitrate to its higher. These factors include framerate, resolution, and internet (more specifically, upload) speed. Happy streaming!


Karen is a professional writer with a background in column writing who enjoys resolving complex topics and explaining them in interesting ways.

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