Netflix and YouTube have agreed to downgrade their video streaming quality in order to ease pressures on European network capacity.
Netflix issued a statement saying: "Netflix has decided to begin reducing bit rates across all our streams in Europe for 30 days.”
Thierry Breton, the European Union’s Internal Market and Services Commissioner has called on streaming services to take steps to ease the strain on networks in the wake of the coronavirus, by downgrading from HD quality to a standard quality.
Speaking to content providers such as Netflix and YouTube, Breton expressed his concern that such streaming service would have on communications networks given the increase in people working from home due to the virus.
Netflix issued a statement saying: “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.”
“We estimate that this will reduce Netflix traffic on European networks by around 25% while also ensuring a good quality service for our members.”
In response to Netflix’s quick decision to oblige, Breton said: “I welcome the very prompt action that Netflix has taken to preserve the smooth functioning of the internet during the Covid-19 crisis while maintaining a good experience for users.
“Mr Hastings has demonstrated a strong sense of responsibility and solidarity. We’ll keep closely in touch to follow the evolution of the situation together.”
A spokesperson for YouTube said: “We are making a commitment to temporarily switch all traffic in the EU to standard definition by default.
“While we have seen only a few usage peaks, we have measures in place to automatically adjust our system to use less network capacity.”
“We will continue working with [EU] member state governments and network operators to minimize stress on the system, while also delivering a good user experience.”
Breton again expressed his gratitude, saying: “I warmly welcome the initiative that Google has taken to preserve the smooth functioning of the internet during the COVID-19 crisis by having YouTube switch all EU traffic to standard definition by default.
“Streaming platforms, telecom operators and users, we all have a joint responsibility to take steps to ensure the smooth functioning of the internet during the battle against the virus propagation,” said earlier this week.
While YouTube said: "We are making a commitment to temporarily switch all traffic in the EU to standard definition by default."