Netflix reduces streaming bitrate for 30 days
James R | On 21, Mar 2020
Netflix is reducing the streaming quality in Europe to help meet heightened demand for video streaming as more and more households stay at home during the coronavirus outbreak.
The pandemic has left many with symptoms self-isolating to avoid spreading the virus, while most others have been asked to work from home to minimise contagion. As a result, large parts of Europe are now at home and looking for things to watch, placing a strain on internet service providers.
Netflix has therefore taken the step to reduce its bitrate to ease data consumption by 25 per cent. The change, which will apply to the UK as well as other European countries, means that the rate at which bits of data are being transferred to people’s devices will be lowered, with less data transmitted per second.
The resolution will be unaffected, with HD and 4K titles still available at those picture qualities, but the finer quality of videos may be impacted, with lower bitrate videos tending to look a little more blocky.
The move follows a call from EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton for streaming platforms and other communications companies to lower the bandwidth usage to ensure the smooth functioning of the internet.
“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,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement to Engadget.