Netflix and YouTube are reducing streaming quality in Europe to prevent the internet collapsing under the strain of usage due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Both companies said the measures will affect all video streams for 30 days. It comes as many parts of Europe are subject to lockdowns due to the virus.
“We estimate that this will reduce Netflix traffic on European networks by around 25% while also ensuring a good quality service for our members,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement.
A spokesperson for Google, which owns YouTube, said: “We will continue working with member state governments and network operators to minimize stress on the system, while also delivering a good user experience.”
The announcement followed appeals from EU officials for streaming services and individual users to ditch high definition video to prevent the internet from breaking.
With so many countries on forced lockdowns to fight the spread of the virus, hundreds of millions working from home and even more children out of school, the officials were concerned about the huge strain on the internet.
Netflix has said it will temporarily reduce the quality of videos on its platform to ease pressure on internet service providers during the coronavirus outbreak.
Netflix expects the move to cut its European traffic by about 25%, but assured users they will still be able to deliver a “good quality service”.
“Following the discussions between Commissioner Thierry Breton and Reed Hastings – and given the extraordinary challenges raised by the coronavirus – Netflix has decided to begin reducing bit rates across all our streams in Europe for 30 days,” a spokeswoman said.
“We estimate that this will reduce Netflix traffic on European networks by around 25% while also ensuring a good quality service for our members.”
Breton praised Netflix boss Reed Hastings for showing a “strong sense of responsibility and solidarity” on the issue.
“Social distancing measures to fight the Coronavirus lead to increased demand for internet capacity be it for teleworking, e-learning or entertainment purposes,” he said “I welcome the very prompt action that Netflix has taken to preserve the smooth functioning of the Internet during the Covid-19 crisis while maintaining a good experience for users.
“Mr Hastings has demonstrated a strong sense of responsibility and solidarity. “We’ll keep closely in touch to follow the evolution of the situation together.”