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Say goodbye to HD streaming – Amazon Prime Video and YouTube join Netflix in lowering video quality

YouTube and Amazon Prime Video are following in Netflix’s footsteps, both streaming services will reduce the quality of their video output in Europe to ensure that broadband networks remain stable. 

The ongoing coronavirus outbreak has created unprecedented demand for video streaming platforms as many people across the world are forced to self-isolate or work from home. According to a new Guardian report streaming platforms are taking measures to ensure they do not have a negative effect on the reliability of broadband networks.

This follows yesterday’s news that European Commissioner, Thierry Breton, held an important meeting with Netflix regarding the stabilisation of broadband networks and the demands that streaming platforms could put on those networks.

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

Following an “important phone conversation” with Netflix CEO, Reed Hastings, the European Commissioner sent out the tweet below. He called on people to stay at home and for streaming platforms to switch to standard definition. Netflix obliged fairly quickly and have now inspired other providers to follow suit.

An Amazon spokesperson told The Guardian: “We support the need for careful management of telecom services to ensure they can handle the increased internet demand, with so many people now at home full-time due to Covid-19. Prime Video is working with local authorities and internet service providers where needed to help mitigate any network congestion, including in Europe, where we’ve already begun the effort to reduce streaming bitrates while maintaining a quality streaming experience for our customers.”

Related: The best VPNs for streaming

The report also suggests that the BBC is considering similar measures with its online content, via the BBC iPlayer platform. It’s likely that the broadcaster will soon also reduce all of its output to SD rather than HD.

YouTube said: “People are coming to YouTube to find authoritative news, learning content and make connections during these uncertain times… While we have seen only a few usage peaks, we have measures in place to automatically adjust our system to use less network capacity. We are in ongoing conversations with the regulators (including Ofcom), governments and network operators all over Europe, and are making a commitment to temporarily default all traffic in the UK and the EU to standard definition. We will continue our work to minimise stress on the system, while also delivering a good user experience.”

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