The number of Netflix subscribers who watch videos at home is surging as people stay indoors to avoid contracting coronavirus. While movies, TV series and other popular video content is serving to preoccupy people who are locked indoors, the increased demand for video streaming is straining internet service providers.
To avoid breaking the internet, Netflix will start cutting back its streaming bit rates in Europe for the next 30 days, a move that can significantly reduce the streaming service provider’s data consumption.
European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services Thierry Breton wants streaming habits to change promptly to prevent a full-blown infrastructure failure.
“Important phone conversation with Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix. To beat Covid 19, we stay at home. Teleworking and 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 no necessary.”
Bit rates affect the quality of videos, with higher rates gobbling up more data to enable clearer and better quality videos.
High definition videos, for instance, use about 3 gigabytes of data for an hour of streaming, while standard definition videos only consume about 1 gigabyte.
According to a Netflix spokesperson,
“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 percent while also ensuring a good quality service for our members.”
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