How does Netflix stream videos?

Netflix uses the internet to stream movies and TV shows from our servers to your screens, but we can't do it alone. From our servers to the world wide web to your ISP's (Internet Service Provider) network, our content travels across multiple touch points to get to your screen.

It starts when you hit ‘Play.’

First, Netflix has to decide where to send your TV show or movie from. Netflix has servers all over the world, and will send your video stream from as close to you as possible. The shorter the route, the higher the video quality.

When you hit play, Netflix uses the most efficient path possible to carry the video through our system to your ISP. Much like when traveling on a highway, Netflix tries to route your video around any traffic, accidents, or construction on the way.


We can’t do it without help.

When Netflix hands off your video to your ISP, they must carry it through their network to your home. If their network has slowdowns or capacity problems, your Netflix experience will suffer.

If there are no major roadblocks, your ISP will deliver the video right to your screen. Your ISP’s connection to your home, your modem or router, the number of connected devices in your household, and other activity on your internet connection can all impact the quality of the video you receive.


Connection problems have solutions.

Congestion on any part of the connection between Netflix and your screen will affect your video streaming quality and can cause many different streaming problems. Thankfully, our Help Center has suggestions to help you troubleshoot and resolve these problems.

Some internet connection problems can result in error codes. If you're experiencing an error code, please search for it on our Help Center. Other connectivity issues do not have an error code, but will result in a poor streaming experience. Below are some of the problems you might experience if your internet connection is weak or congested.

If your problem isn't listed here, search our Help Center for the problem you're experiencing.