Netflix is complying with a request from the European Union to reduce its streaming quality in Europe to ease the strain the increased streaming and millions of folks working from home have placed on European broadband networks during the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.
The BBC reports Netflix is reducing the quality of its video streams in Europe for the next 30 days. The streaming network says that the change will reduce data consumption by 25%, but that viewers will still be satisfied with the quality of the streams.
The company will cut its streaming bitrates, which influence how clear and smooth videos look when streamed online.
Videos with a higher bitrate tend to look less “blocky” or pixelated, but use more data.
The announcement came after a phone call with European officials.
Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, had earlier said people should “switch to standard definition when HD [high-definition] is not necessary”.
An hour of standard definition video uses about 1GB of data, while HD can use up to 3GB an hour.
The EU had asked Netflix, YouTube, and other streaming services to temporarily reduce their streaming quality due to the unusually large number of people working from home and also bingeing on video streams as they’re sheltered in place.
The EU wants the streaming services to limit their content streams to standard definition instead. of the usual high-def streams they provide, and it is also hoping viewers will also work to reduce their data consumption.
Telecom giant Vodafone reported a 50% rise in internet use in Europe earlier this week. Meanwhile, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said on Wednesday that the platform was seeing “big surges” as users tried to stay connected with their friends and family.
Netflix has not indicated whether it will implement bitrate reductions in other countries, but U.S. internet providers haven’t as yet requested such a reduction.