Netflix, Prime Video, and YouTube Limit Video Streaming Quality in EU Due to Coronavirus

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As the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic forces companies and governments all over the world to advise people to work from home, video streaming services like Netflix, Prime Video, and YouTube have started downgrading video quality in some regions. This is to help preserve the internet bandwidth for people working from home.

Yesterday, the European Commission had requested Netflix and other such video streaming services to dial back on video streaming quality. The company has now confirmed that it is indeed “making a commitment to temporarily switch all traffic in the EU to standard definition by default.” Standard definition essentially equates to DVD quality, and if you watch Netflix on a 4K TV or bigger screens on PCs and laptops, you will notice the dip in video quality.

Amazon’s Prime Video and YouTube are following the suit and reducing the video streaming quality on their platforms. YouTube said earlier today that it is dropping video quality in the EU to avoid straining the network so that millions of people working from home in the region can work without any problems. The move from YouTube was decided after EU industry chief Thierry Breton spoke to Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki.

Engadget is reporting that Amazon has decided to reduce video streaming quality as well. It is working with local authorities and internet service providers in Europe and other parts of the world. The company says that it is trying to reduce streaming bitrates without significantly affecting the viewing quality. Prime Video states that Good, Better, and Best options on its platform take 0.38GB, 1.4GB, and 6.84GB of data per hour, respectively.

Our Take

Although ISPs in the EU claim that they have enough internet bandwidth that taking a dip in video streaming quality won’t be needed, we still think this move from Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube, and other video streaming services will help. As people started working from home, it is being reported that Microsoft Teams saw 12 million new users in just one week, taking the service down for a few hours in the EU.

[Via Engadget, FT, Reuters]