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Netflix Downgrading Video Quality Across Europe Due To Coronavirus Pandemic

After a request from the European Union, Netflix is reducing its streaming bit rates in Europe for a month, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.


As the situation surrounding the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic continues to evolve, many around the world are now spending much more time at home whether they're working or simply self-distancing from others. As such, lots of users are streaming video from home to pass the time.

That much streaming video could, potentially, overload internet bandwidth. In an attempt to curb that before it becomes an issue, the European Union commissioner for internal market Thierry Breton revealed he spoke with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, asking for the streaming to downgrade video quality to standard definition when "HD is not necessary."

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In a tweet, Breton wrote, "Important phone conversation with [Reed Hastings], CEO of [Netflix.] To beat [COVID-19], we [stay at home.] Teleworking & 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."

According to CNN, Netflix confirmed the conversation between Hastings and Breton. In a statement, the company said, "Commissioner Breton is right to highlight the importance of ensuring that the internet continues to run smoothly during this critical time. We've been focused on network efficiency for many years, including providing our open connect service for free to telecommunications companies."

The company then announced it would, in fact, reduce its streaming bit rates across Europe for the next 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 company said in a statement, according to an Associated Foreign Press correspondent.

While Netflix is still the industry leader in terms of streaming video, other services are stepping up their content offerings during the ongoing pandemic. Disney added Frozen II to Disney+ early, while movies like Trolls Word Tour will debut on-demand on the same day as the theatrical release, while others like Bloodshot and The Invisible Man to debut digitally shortly after their big-screen debut.

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