European officials have asked streaming services operating in Europe to reduce the bit-rate of their video streams to reduce the amount of bandwidth they use to reduce the strain on provider networks. Usage of streaming services has increased substantially in Europe in recent weeks, due to the COVID-19 coronavirus stay-at-home lockdowns in the region.
All Apple TV+ content is normally available in HD and 4K formats. However, for the foreseeable future, the service’s viewing experience will be severely reduced. 9to5Mac reports the service appears to be serving video streams with resolutions as low as 670 pixels tall. The streams also appear to be heavily compressed with visible artifacts.
In addition to Apple TV+, European viewers are seeing reduced streaming quality from other streaming services, including YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and others. The 9to5Mac report indicates that while Amazon Prime and Netflix’s streams are still approaching HD quality, Apple’s streams resemble something you’d expect on your phone while connected to a 3G network.
At least Apple TV+ viewers aren’t currently paying a 4K price for SD streams, as the service’s subscription price is a set price for any quality. Some Netflix customers are complaining that they are paying for the service’s 4K plan and are receiving SD streams, and are calling for the service to temporarily reduce prices until they can return to delivering full-quality streams.