Streaming giant Netflix has announced that it will be taking action to reduce the bitrates of streams in Europe, freeing up bandwidth, following a conversation between the European Union Commissioner Thierry Breton and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.
The Verge reports that video streaming platform Netflix has announced that its taking new actions to reduce the bitrate of streams in Europe following a conversation between the European Union Commissioner Thierry Breton and CEO Reed Hastings. This will ease streaming video traffic on the E.U.’s overloaded Internet.
A spokesperson said in a statement to The Verge: “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 percent while also ensuring a good quality service for our members.”
The bitrate reduction comes on top of other methods used by Netflix since 2011 to keep streaming operational in low bandwidth areas. The platform already uses an adaptive streaming tool to automatically adjust video quality based on accessible bandwidth. Netflix partners with internet service providers worldwide on network management and will determine what quality of stream si best for the viewer in an effort to prevent video buffering.
“Important phone conversation with Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, today,” Breton tweeted on Wednesday. “To beat COVID-19, we stay at home. Teleworking and streaming help a lot but infrastructures might be in strain. To secure internet access for all, let’s switch to standard definition when HD is not necessary.”
Teleworking & streaming help a lot but infrastructures might be in strain.
To secure Internet access for all, let’s #SwitchToStandard definition when HD is not necessary.
— Thierry Breton (@ThierryBreton) March 18, 2020
The new measures by Netflix come as Nielsen estimates that people staying home due to the coronavirus outbreak “can lead to almost a 60 percent increase in the amount of content we watch in some cases and potentially more depending on the reasons.”
It’s also been reported that video games and Twitch gaming streams are testing the limits of internet networks. StreamElements, a live streaming research firm that conducts regular surveys of the industry, found that Twitch saw a 10 percent increase in viewership over the last week. Live-stream viewership in Italy, where the coronavirus has spread aggressively, saw an increase of more than 66 percent in live stream viewership figures.
Google-owned streaming service YouTube has also followed in Netflix’s footsteps and has promised to reduce the quality of all videos in Europe to reduce the strain on networks. The company said in a statement according to Reuters: “We are making a commitment to temporarily switch all traffic in the EU to standard definition by default.”