Coronavirus: Top Streaming Sites, Social Networks Reduce Video Quality

Guy watching movie on iPad
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The streaming surge has forced top streaming services and social media apps including Netflix, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and more to reduce video quality in many parts of the world.

This comes as millions are told to stay indoors and cities go on complete lockdown to stop the spread of Coronavirus. The pandemic has claimed the lives of more than 13,000 people and infected over 304,500 globally.

In view of potential network congestion, a number of top video platforms have reduced the maximum video bitrate, moving from HD (High Definition) to SD (Standard Definition). The goal is to reduce strain on the networks as millions turn to video streaming services.

Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime, and Dinsey+

In a statement, Netflix has confirmed to reduce internet traffic in Europe and the UK. While the streaming platform plans to “maintain the full range of video resolution,” it will use lower bandwidth versions.

In Europe, for the next 30 days, within each category, we’ve simply removed the highest bandwidth streams…But you will still get the video quality you paid for.”

Netflix has also said that the network reduction will likely expand to Latin America and other parts of the world. Moroever, it is ready to degrade video streaming quality if ISP’s ask so.

YouTube, on the other hand, has put SD as the streaming default for users in Europe. However, users can manually change it to HD. Amazon Prime has also come forward to “mitigate any network congestion.”

Disney Plus, which will launch in the EU market tomorrow, has decided to reduce its “overall bandwidth utilization by at least 25 percent”. It has also delayed the platform’s launch in France to April 7.

While there is no official announcement from Apple, users in Europe are witnessing lower resolutions streaming in Apple TV+ as well.

Facebook and Instagram

Facebook and Instagram have also decided to downgrade video bitrates in Europe to “help alleviate any potential network congestion.”

We believe that more streaming and video platforms will announce plans to reduce video quality to align with bandwidth constraints in different countries.

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