Apple TV (2nd and 3rd generation): Troubleshooting playback performance

You can troubleshoot these symptoms and other playback issues in content that you rent or purchase on Apple TV:

  • Abnormal wait times when you try to purchase or rent content
  • Movies or TV shows that you rent take longer than normal to start

Test your broadband Internet connection

For the best viewing experience for iTunes content on Apple TV, you need a broadband Internet connection. We recommend these connection speeds for viewing content:

  • 8-Mbit/s or faster for 1080p high-definition movies and TV shows
  • 6-Mbit/s or faster for 720p content
  • 2.5-Mbit/s or faster for standard-definition content

Internet connection speeds vary depending on your Internet service provider (ISP) and other factors. To see what your Internet speed is, ask your ISP or use an online bandwidth test on a computer on the same network as your Apple TV.

If you experience playback performance issues and you have a high-speed, broadband Internet connection, follow the steps below.

Check your home network

Along with a broadband Internet connection, your Apple TV relies on a high-speed local network to play content quickly and reliably.

If you use a wireless connection, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure your wireless router or Base Station is 802.11 a, b, g, or n compatible for streaming video. See the technical specifications for your Apple TV (3rd generation) or Apple TV (2nd generation).
  2. Check the strength of the wireless connection on your Apple TV. Go to Settings > General > About from the main menu.

    signal strength graphic

  3. Make sure your Apple TV is within range of your base station or router and in an environment with minimal wireless interference.
  4. If you still experience slow playback when you view movies and TV shows, connect your Apple TV to your local network via a wired (Ethernet) connection. If the performance improves noticeably, then consider updating or troubleshooting your Wi-Fi base station or router.

If you use an Ethernet connection, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure you're using a 10/100BASE-T or faster Ethernet network. See the technical specifications for your Apple TV (3rd generation) or Apple TV (2nd generation).
  2. If you still see slow playback while connected to your local network via a wired (Ethernet) connection, you might want to contact your Internet service provider (ISP) to increase the speed of your connection. You can also reduce the video resolution of the iTunes Store content as described below.

Switch between High Definition and Standard Definition

If your Internet connection is slow or High Definition movies or TV shows take longer than normal to start, try changing your Video Resolution to Standard Definition. From the main iTunes menu, choose Settings > iTunes Store and switch 1080p HD or 720p HD to Standard Definition. Your Movie and TV show purchases and rentals will now be in Standard Definition.

ITunes Store Settings showing Video Resolution set to Standard Definition

Note: 1080p HD content is available on Apple TV (3rd generation) only.

Update your Apple TV software

It's always a good idea to update your software. Software updates can include feature changes and fixes that might enhance your viewing experience.

Verify DNS and network settings

If you're experiencing abnormal wait times when you try to purchase or rent content on your Apple TV, see if your network settings changed (such as the DNS address on your Apple TV and router or base station). You should use the default DNS entry supplied by your ISP on your Apple TV and router. Changing the DNS entry might increase the time before playback begins. Also, you should configure your Apple TV to use DHCP for the network setup, unless you have a custom network with specifically-assigned IP addresses.

To configure your Apple TV to use DHCP, follow these steps:

  1. From the main menu, go to Settings > General > Network > Configure TCP/IP.
  2. In the Network Setup page, select Automatically.

    Network Setup page showing Configure IP set to Automatically

  3. Confirm that your Apple TV and router or base station are using DHCP without a custom DNS entry.
  4. Restart your Apple TV, router or base station, and broadband Internet modem.

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