Netflix and YouTube downgrade due to COVID-19
Netflix and YouTube have agreed to downgrade their video streaming quality in order to ease pressures on European network capacity.
The news follows calls by Thierry Breton, the European Union’s Internal Market and Services Commissioner for streaming services to take steps to prevent an internet gridlock in the wake of the Coronavirus.
As people are increasing working from home, telcos have been experiencing outages due to the demands on the network. Breton suggested that OTTs transition its content from high definition to standard definition for an extended period.
Netflix issued a statement saying: “Following the discussions between commissioner Thierry Breton and Reed Hastings – and given the extraordinary challenges raised by the coronavirus – Netflix has decided to begin reducing bit rates across all our streams in Europe for 30 days.”
“We estimate that this will reduce Netflix traffic on European networks by around 25% while also ensuring a good quality service for our members.”
In response to Netflix’s quick decision to oblige, Breton said: “I welcome the very prompt action that Netflix has taken to preserve the smooth functioning of the internet during the Covid-19 crisis while maintaining a good experience for users.
“Mr Hastings has demonstrated a strong sense of responsibility and solidarity. We’ll keep closely in touch to follow the evolution of the situation together.”
While for its part a spokesperson for YouTube said: “We are making a commitment to temporarily switch all traffic in the EU to standard definition by default.
“While we have seen only a few usage peaks, we have measures in place to automatically adjust our system to use less network capacity.”
“We will continue working with [EU] member state governments and network operators to minimize stress on the system, while also delivering a good user experience,”
Breton again expressed his gratitude, saying: “I warmly welcome the initiative that Google has taken to preserve the smooth functioning of the internet during the COVID-19 crisis by having YouTube switch all EU traffic to standard definition by default.
“I appreciate the strong responsibility that Mr. Pichai and Mrs. Wojcicki have demonstrated.”