Netflix and YouTube reducing video quality in Europe while COVID-19 keeps people home

By Sam Quirke,
Netflix has opted to reduce bitrate on all of its streams in the European region, after EU officials urged the streaming giant to help an overwhelming demand for streaming and internet access. Since European countries began urging populations to work from home or self-isolate, there has been an unprecedented pressure on social networks and streaming services. Google have also committed to reducing video quality on YouTube, though they were less specific about the method.

Image credit: Netflix

The news comes via CNN, who report that EU Commissioner Thierry Breton appealed to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to reduce pressure on networks. Though there was speculation that this might lead to restrictions on streaming in HD and 4K, Netflix opted instead for reducing bit-rate across the board. The company warns that this may result in some reduction in visible quality. Netflix claims that this will reduce its bandwidth usage by 12%.

A 2019 report cited by CNN claims that video accounts for 60% of all data delivered to internet consumers. Netflix and Google each account for 12% of traffic.

Various internet service providers in Europe have said that they are continuing to operate as normal, though Verizon in the US has seen unusual spikes in certain types of traffic. Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg told CNN's Richard Quest that there has been a 75% jump in gaming traffic on the network.

Although we haven't seen any major gaming companies declare wide-spread issues or take similar actions, it's not outside of the realm of possibility. Xbox Support has reported several issues in just a few days, retweeting server maintenance issues from Fortnite, Smite and more. Xbox itself has been hit with several issues, including downloading new content from the store, using codes and achievements not unlocking. Though the latter problem has been fixed, there has yet to be a resolution for players who met achievement requirements during the outage but did not pop the achievement. We're continuing to push for a response on this issue, and you can keep track of official Xbox Live Service issues with us.
Sam Quirke
Written by Sam Quirke
Sam has been a Newshound since 2016. He loves gaming on all devices and in all genres. He remains a stubborn Assassin's Creed and Pokémon fan.