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Netflix is cutting video quality by 25% to keep European internet afloat

Netflix is cutting European traffic capacity by a quarter for the next month, following talks with EU officials. Essentially, it means the quality of streaming video might not be what we’ve become accustomed to for the immediate future. 

With millions of housebound people turning to their streaming library to pass the time during this time of social distancing, Netflix acknowledges its subscribers could put a strain on ISP capacity across the continent. The European Union had urged Netflix to revert to standard definition streaming to avoid overwhelming internet networks earlier this week.

It doesn’t appear is if Netflix is completely complying with that request, but it is lowering bitrates by 25%. It does mean it may be more difficult for subscribers of the Ultra tier to access the bandwidth guzzling 4K HDR content, but for most users, it probably won’t make much of a difference.

“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,” Netflix said.

Related: Bored with Netflix? Catch up on retro British game shows

The statement continued: “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.”

Because we’re in the post-Brexit transition period it’s likely the restrictions will apply to Netflix streamers in the United Kingdom too. The decision comes after a plea from Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner for internal market, who spoke with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings earlier this week.

In a tweet, he explained that teleworking and streaming will assist with the efforts to efforts to stay within the confines of the home, but will cause additional strains on networks. He said that to ensure internet access for everyone, a switch to standard-def by streaming giants might be necessary.

Would you be fine with switching to SD to ensure everyone could watch Netflix during the crisis? If the answer is no, you should probably have a word with yourselves, like.

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