Thursday 19 March 2020 6:08 pm

Coronavirus: Netflix downgrades streaming quality after EU plea

Netflix has said it will downgrade video streaming qualities on its platform in a bid to save network space.

The US streaming giant said it will cut bitrates in Europe for 30 days, which is expected to reduce traffic by 25 per cent.

Read more: Coronavirus: BBC overhauls broadcast plans to tackle outbreak

It comes after the EU asked Netflix to restrict high definition (HD) streaming on its platform amid fears the coronavirus outbreak will lead to overloaded broadband networks.

Thierry Breton, EU commissioner for internal market and services, said he had spoken to Netflix boss Reed Hastings about limiting the amount of data used for film and TV viewing.

“To beat #Covid-19, we #StayAtHome. Teleworking & streaming help a lot but infrastructures might be in strain,” Breton wrote in a tweet.

“To secure internet access for all, let’s #SwitchToStandard definition when HD is not necessary.”

Watching high definition films and shows on Netflix uses roughly 3GB of data per hour — three times more than standard definition.

The streaming service allows users to manually choose their data settings from one of four settings: low, medium, high or auto.

However, the move means video quality will be limited automatically for all users.

It comes as people in the UK and across the EU have been told to stay at home in a bid to contain the spread of the virus.

Read more: Government set to use mobile signals to monitor virus outbreak

Telecoms networks are facing a huge surge in demand as a result of the measures, as more people use voice calls and home broadband while working from home.

All four UK mobile operators have suffered outages in recent days, while Vodafone has reported a 50 per cent increase in mobile data usage in some European countries as a result of the pandemic.

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