One of the consequences of coronavirus has been a lot more people staying at home and streaming Netflix and other platforms. On top of the large numbers of people using web meetings and other video and audio streaming tools, Netflix bingeing is putting a significant strain on the internet’s capacity to handle so much traffic. And to prevent further crashes and network overload, they’re being asked to slow down streaming to ease the burden on providers.
Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, announced yesterday on Twitter that he’s spoken to Netflix’s CEO about measures that could be put in place by streaming giants to avoid network issues, saying:
“Important phone conversation with Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix. To beat COVID-19, we stay at home. Teleworking and streaming help a lot but infrastructures might be in strain. To secure Internet access for all, let’s switch to Standard Definition when HD is not necessary.”
It’s difficult to tell whether this a specific request for Netflix to remove high-definition options from its services, or just to encourage more subscribers to use standard-definition. The same slow-down presumably applies to anyone using video conferencing calls in HD, or streaming over YouTube and other file-sharing sites. For now, we’d expect Netflix to find some sort of compromise for easing the strain on the internet without sacrificing the quality of its streaming to a great extent.
Whether or not these actions will extend to the US and other territories is unclear, although it makes sense that even small changes by Netflix and other streaming giants like Disney Plus or Amazon Prime will have a positive cumulative effect on internet traffic in general. However, those unable to go to the cinema, and now seeing premium theatrical movies arrive on streaming much earlier than anticipated, will most likely want the best viewing experience.
We’re intrigued to see what comes out of the next few weeks as lockdowns continue, and our current internet infrastructure has to take on a lot more streaming traffic. Of course, any outages would be a blow for those stuck at home and keeping themselves entertained with Netflix, although some analysts are suggesting that subscriptions to these services could actually drop if people have to budget for essentials. In the meantime, Netflix are adding more content to ensure that subscribers have plenty to keep up on, even if it might not be in the highest definition possible for a while.