Netflix and others to cease HD streaming over virus

Coronavirus effect: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and others to cease HD content streaming

Since the Coronavirus outbreak in China early January 2020, the pandemic has spread to global regions, more so in Europe with Italy worst affected. Most of the affected areas across Europe with more than 450 million population are under lockdown and with restricted movements, people have been asked to work from home and others are binging on multi-media contents on streaming apps to kill the time.

This apparently has caused a heavy load on the cellular network across the European Union. To mitigate the further stress, Thierry Breton, commissioner of the European Union Internal Market, urged Netflix and other Over-The-Top (OTT) players to lower the video content quality from 1080p(High Definition) to 480p(Standard Definition) for a limited time.

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So far, Netflix has agreed to the commissioner's request and will be lowering the HD video streaming bitrate a period of 30 days. This initiative is expected to reduce internet traffic by 25-percent in Europe. [New update below]

[Note: To view HD content on Netflix, device's display should have minimum support of 720p. And on devices with full HD+ or greater resolution display, Netflix can switch the content quality from 720p to 1080p. Users also get Ultra HD (2160p) option, but only a few TV shows and movies available in this segment. Similarly, SD can range between 450p and 576p resolution depending on the device is a mobile phone or a television]

With this initiative, people will be able to get high-speed internet to gain access to information on coronavirus and also others can complete their official work online.

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An hour of HD content consumes 3GB and 7GB for Ultra HD, while the SD content requires 0.7GB per hour on Netflix.

Update: 18:25 pm IST(March 20)

Google's YouTube too, has announced to reduce the HD streaming to SD in Europe. This will further free up internet traffic stress on telecommunication networks.

Update: 1:00 pm IST (March 22)

After Netflix announced lowering the bitrate of the streaming, many consumers in the European Union were worried they would not be able to view high-quality videos on the app, but to allay fears the company has responded.

"This is a technical change that shouldn't affect the quality of the streaming – you will continue to see content in the quality of your plan (always depending on the connection and the device, as before), so your experience should be the same," Netflix UK& Ireland said on Twitter.

Other on-demand multimedia streaming services such as Amazon, Disney Plus and Hulu are also expected to follow suit.

There is no word on whether if the same measures will be taken in other parts of the world including India.

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