Netflix,  YouTube reduce resolution as virus hits web

AFP | Published: 22:39, Mar 20,2020


Netflix and YouTube will reduce the default image quality of streaming video in Europe to ease pressure on the internet, the firms said on Friday, as demand soars with millions confined to their homes over coronavirus fears. 

EU commissioner for the digital economy Thierry Breton urged internet giants to switch from high definition to the former standard definition to reduce file sizes while stranded householders seek entertainment as well as news about the epidemic.

Late on Thursday, entertainment platform Netflix agreed, and on Friday Google’s video-sharing service YouTube said that it would follow suit, although videos viewed on the site from a European connection on Friday by AFP were still defaulting to high definition mode.

‘While we have seen only a few usage peaks, we have measures in place to automatically adjust our system to use less network capacity,’ a Google spokesperson said.

‘Following the discussion between Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki and commissioner Thierry Breton we are making a commitment to temporarily switch all traffic in the EU to Standard Definition by default.’

Separately, Netflix will ‘begin reducing bit rates across all our streams in Europe for 30 days,’ a spokesperson for the streaming giant said in a statement.

‘We estimate that this will reduce Netflix traffic on European networks by around 25 per cent while also ensuring a good quality service for our members,’ the statement added.

With wide-ranging lockdowns and quarantines, schools, shops and borders closed and gatherings banned, people across Europe are increasingly turning to the internet to stave off boredom.

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