Netflix reduces streaming quality in Europe, ponders the need in other markets

The move was requested by a EU commissioner to reduce congestion in broadband networks during the coronavirus outbreak

Netflix is banned from Disney TV channels
According to a report, Netflix streams make up about 13% of overall internet traffic in 2019. Photo: Shutterstock
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  • Netflix Brazil says the company works with ISPs and regulators and will “apply these changes as needed elsewhere”;
  • Amazon and Google will also reduce bit rates in European networks for Prime Video and Youtube;
  • Video calls and streaming services are seeing a huge spike in usage as people stay indoors during the outbreak.

Netflix is reducing its streaming quality in Europe so its service uses less bandwidth during the coronavirus outbreak. The company is complying with a request made by European Union Commissioner Thierry Breton, who pointed out that broadband networks are becoming more strained as people turn to streaming and videoconference platforms for in-home entertainment and work.

The streaming firm is still pondering the necessity of reducing bit rates in other markets such as Latin America, but does not comment on the higher demand felt in these places during recent weeks.

“We started [reducing bit rates] in Europe, given the concerns reported by the Commissioner about European networks. We will continue to work with Internet service providers and governments around the world and will apply these changes as needed elsewhere.”

Netflix Brazil, in a statement sent to LABS


Business Insider reported that the decision will last in Europe for 30 days, “given the extraordinary challenges raised by the coronavirus”. Netflix estimates that this will reduce its traffic on European networks by around 25% “while also ensuring a good quality service for our members.”

Later, Amazon and Google confirmed that they will also comply with the request made by the European commissioner, reducing streaming bit rates in the continent for their Prime Video and YouTube platforms as a way to ease pressure on network congestion.

According to TechCrunch, Netflix traffic has long accounted for a significant portion of the world’s bandwidth usage. The tech news outlet cites a report at the end of 2019 which said that Netflix streams made up about 13% of overall internet traffic. 

As the coronavirus continues to spread worldwide, people are increasingly using video call and streaming platforms to stay connected. As a result, broadband service providers, cloud storage and management services, as well as organizational and communication tools are seeing their usage and the number of new customers growing impressively.

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