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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

Netflix has complied with a request from the European Union to lower its streaming video quality in Europe to ease network strain from the millions of people working from home.


According to the BBC, Netflix is reducing video quality in Europe for the next 30 days. Netflix says that the change will reduce data consumption by 25 percent, but that viewers will still be satisfied with picture quality.

To limit data use, Netflix is cutting streaming bitrates, which could cause videos to look a bit more pixelated.
"Following the discussions between Commissioner Thierry Breton and [Netflix chief executive] Reed Hastings, and given the extraordinary challenges raised by the coronavirus, Netflix has decided to begin reducing bitrates across all our streams in Europe for 30 days," the company said.
The European Union asked Netflix, YouTube, and other streaming services to consider temporary reductions in streaming quality due to the abnormally large number of people working from home and taking advantage of streaming services.

The EU wants streaming platforms to limit content to standard definition instead of high-definition, and it also wants individual users to pay attention to their data consumption rates.

Having a large number of people at home has led to worries that broadband connections, which are designed to cope with evening surges in traffic, may not be able to handle long days of adults engaging in video conferencing and children taking online classes or playing games. Italy, one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic, saw a 75 percent rise in home broadband and mobile network traffic over the weekend.

Netflix has not said whether the bitrate reduction will be implemented in other countries like the United States, but it does not appear that U.S. internet providers have called for such measures at this time. The United States Federal Communications Commission earlier this week permitted Verizon, T-Mobile, and US Cellular to temporarily use additional spectrum to meet increased demand for broadband access.

Article Link: Netflix Reduces Streaming Video Quality in Europe to Lower Data Usage and Ease Strain on Broadband Networks
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macrumors 6502a
Mar 5, 2014
The responsible choice. Well done Netflix.

Of course this shouldn’t let ISPs off the hook. Hopefully their inadequate performance during this crisis will further expose them for the lazy crooks they are and lead to a tipping point with respect to consumer choice.

... and yes, they should of course refund or comp service.
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macrumors 6502
Nov 11, 2010
they better not do that here or I shouldn't have to pay for the 4k plan
Take a deep breath...

Every ISP who has trouble handing this situation should be out of the marked rather now then later!
If people would reduce their porn habits, Netflix wouldn't have to reduce their quality


macrumors 68020
Dec 31, 2013
Oh the irony of this, coming from a resident of a country that has data caps on broad band and bandwidth throttling...

I have neither in the US. I have three competitive ISPs (fiber, cable, and DSL) and I'm not in a particularly high-end neighborhood. I get 400 Mbps over cable, which is being upgraded to 1 Gbps by the end of the year.

US 4G LTE penetration is far better than that in Europe as well. Our major carriers have full LTE coverage, and our number 1 carrier is shutting down their non-LTE networks.

Don't believe the trash that certain "technica" blogs publish who have an irrational hate of broadband providers and a certain political party.
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Mar 11, 2010
Chicago, IL
I'm not excusing ISPs, but this is pretty extenuating circumstances that even the smartest network management couldn't have predicted. Streaming movies will be the least of our worries if the situation gets worse, though, so any small thing we can all do to keep our infrastructure operational is welcome.

If you think this is going to make video "look terrible," test it yourself: in your Netflix account settings, you can already constrict your streaming quality to save bandwidth. I've reduced mine as rural Internet is not the best anyway.


macrumors 603
Mar 30, 2004
they better not do that here or I shouldn't have to pay for the 4k plan
Since the bandwidth is merely reduced by 25%, I am guessing Premium tier subscribers will still get 4K HDR, just at reduced quality due to 25% bandwidth reduction. Maybe downgraded to 1080p HDR?

The right thing for Netflix to do is serve all contents at SD while temporarily offering discount to Premium and Standard tier customers.
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macrumors regular
Jan 11, 2004
4K (or even 1080P) quality is unnecessary anyway. Not too long ago, the best quality movie you could rent or buy was on DVD and those are 720P. Nobody complained back then...
Weird that Netflix offers the option to pay for a totally unnecessary service, then.

Certainly this is the reasonable response given the situation (though I wouldn't give ISPs a pass on overselling their bandwidth to such an extent), but it's striking there's no mention of a similar reduction in Netflix bills given their reduction in service.


macrumors 603
Mar 30, 2004
4K (or even 1080P) quality is unnecessary anyway. Not too long ago, the best quality movie you could rent or buy was on DVD and those are 720P. Nobody complained back then...
That was then, and this is now.

While 4K may not look appreciably better than 1080p for most viewers, most of the 4K contents has the added benefit of HDR. HDR is a significant improvement over SDR.
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